Q: After an Amazon bestseller in urban fantasy, you’re changing directions with your fiction, right? Tell me as much as you want to share about THE FAMILY WARR, the novel you’re working on now.
A:My favorite kinds of books encapsulate the twists and turns of human experience. Whether they accomplish that through an urban fantasy with paranormal elements or the tale of a damaged family, such as the one portrayed in THE FAMILY WARR, is almost irrelevant.
Even though THE FAMILY WARR is more literary than Losing Beauty, I think the cohesive element in all my books is a fascination and exploration of how we experience lives set in the technological noise of our twenty-first century culture.
Q: You gave up your position with a New York law firm to raise your children. As a stay-at-home mom, did you feel you were treated differently by the outside world than you had been as a full-time lawyer?
A: The answer seems like it should be yes, but I can’t think of any concrete examples where that was the case. Most of the women I know who stay home with their kids are well-educated; doctors, other lawyers, graduates of Stanford and Wharton business schools. I think the choice made by those women to stay home speaks more about the state of childcare in our country than it does about the individual.
Q: In the excerpt of THE FAMILY WARR that you shared with me, I noticed the protagonist’s mother saying, “I’ve always been a conscientious objector to the kitchen and its use as a tool of the patriarchy, distracting women from finding their true purpose in life.” In my 1/20/14 interview here with Garry Craig Powell, Stoning the Devil, he said, “For the first time in history in a developed society, women have control over their reproductive rights, and if not full economic equality, at least the means to financial independence, so in theory they are not subject to control by men. But as yet, we have not come to a modus vivendi. The rules of engagement are still being negotiated. It’s very difficult for women, who often struggle to be both perfect traditional role models, wives and mothers, and at the same time liberated modern ones…” As a novelist, lawyer, mother of two children, and wife, how do you handle all of your roles or how do you blend them into one?
A: Garry Craig Powell is correct. We haven’t come up with a modus vivendi. Every three years there’s a controversial new bestseller about what women should be doing. We should stay home with the kids. We should go back to work. We should lean-in. Maybe, what economic parity means, is women get to choose whichever of those options makes us the happiest. We can’t have it all, but we can have what we want.
Q: On 1/20/14 Powell continued to say, “But it’s also hard for men. In the past a man knew where he stood and how he was supposed to behave. Nowadays men are confused. On the one hand they’re told that women want them to be sensitive, to help with the housework, child-rearing and so on; on the other, the images of men promoted in the media are still of muscle-bound action heroes.” I won’t ask you to speak for your husband or for other men, but what, if any, “confusion” in modern men do you see and perhaps build into your fiction characters?
A:In THE VIRTUAL LIFE OF MAISEY PARKER, which is currently out on submission, I address men’s increasingly blurred roles in an acquisitive society on overdrive. Men are told to be supportive, emotionally, financially and around the house. They should know how to locate a woman’s G spot, cook dinner and change both tires and diapers. The mandate for men to do it all is no less overwhelming than the one women face. As a society, I think it’s wonderful we’re no longer bound by traditional roles. It’s unprecedented freedom for everyone and, ironically, it seems many of us are searching for rules to help structure and negotiate all that freedom.
Q: Readers like to know what authors read. What are a few of your all-time favorite books? What are a few of your recent favorite books?
A: I have so many favorite books that I think I should probably limit myself to my favorite books read this year. I can’t stop raving about Donna Tartt’s book, The Goldfinch. Tenth of December by George Saunders was also amazing. May We Be Forgiven, introduced me to A.M. Homes and I was very grateful for the introduction. Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Brunt Rifka was poetic and haunting. And Neil Gaiman’s, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is one I’m certain I’ll read again and again.