May 20, 2005

GCC: Three Questions with Marianne Mancusi (and some PS-es)

Marianne Mancusi's first novel, A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court (May 2005, Dorchester) is getting some great press. Publisher's Weekly calls it, "a sparkling debut," and Kristin Harmel (who does The Daily Buzz on the WB Morning Show) says, "once you pick it up, you won't be able to put A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court down."

Here's the Skinny: Connecticut Fashionista features an outspoken fashion editor named Kat, who’s certainly not your typical damsel in distress. But when a gypsy curse sends her back in time to the days of King Arthur, she’ll need every ounce of her 21st century wits (and pop culture references) to navigate the legend. After all, surviving a magical plot, an evil prince, and a case of mistaken identity--all without changing history or scuffing your Manolos--takes some doing!

I sat down over a computer screen and a bucket of absinthe and had a little chat with Marianne:

Me: You are young, you are pretty, you have a hip job in TV, you have an EXCELLENT haircut and you know your shoes. AND YET, I smell secret geek all over you, my friend. Come on, 'fess up---what's your poison---Video games? Sci-Fi movies? I can recite the dialogue from every episode of classic Trek, AND I've been to GEN CON, so you are among friends... What geeky vice did you pick up that got you interested in writing a time travel story?

MM: Ha! Okay, okay, you got me. :-) Though it's not exactly the best image to project, most likely, when selling Chick Lit, I'm a geek to the core. I'm a huge gamer, currently addicted to a massive multiplayer online role playing game called World of Warcraft. I play almost every night. (My husband plays as well.)

Love Sci-fi and fantasy - whether movies, tv, or books. I've never been to GEN CON, but it's not for lack of wanting to. I really wish I was at E3 this week, but alas I have to work.
Anyway - I was always a huge King Arthur fan. Read all the books growing up. So it was a natural fit to do a King Arthur time travel. Also, book 3 in the series will be a futuristic! Can't wait to write that one.

JJ: If YOU could travel back in time and mack on some historically delicious chunk of man, when and who would you go and do? And what shoes would you wear?

MM: Actually, I'd love to go back in time and hook up with King Arthur. Comfort him over the whole Lancelot/Guenevere thing. I always thought he was a way better guy than Lancelot and never really understood why Guenevere chose Lance over her dashing, brave, England uniting husband. As for shoes, I'd probably go with something comfortable over classy. After all, the roads could get a bit muddy!

JJ: I was very surprised to read on your blog that you DID NOT read all of Twain's book before writing a book that riffs on it. Can you talk a little about how and why you made that choice?

MM: I didn't read Twain's book intentionally. Well, I read a couple chapters, then decided I didn't want to be accidentally influenced by another comedy time travel. I also didn't watch Martin Lawrence's Black Knight movie for the same reason. Didn't want to unintentionally steal the jokes. Besides, neither of those stories follow the original legend very closely, which is what I wanted to do. So instead, I read plenty of traditional Arthurian books and borrowed quite heavily from them.. It was actually a lot of fun, because every version of the legend is a bit different so I cherry picked my favorite parts from each one and created something all my own.


MM: Put down the bucket and back slowly away from the absinthe...

Okay, I made that last part up.

PS I think "SITH HAPPENS" is the STUPIDEST ad campaign EVER. It's not just's downright PRECIOUS. *spits*

PPS While I was on the road, my hard-fought JENNY CRAIG FOR CATS campaign FAILED as my parents and children loaded Schubert/Waffles' plate up with butter and creamed herring ANY TIME HE PEEPED at them. He was NOT indicating hunger, just announcing that he had burped, and therefore he MIGHT have a sliver of belly room and was willing to try to pack something else in there. He is ONCE AGAIN too fat to groom his back half, and has the BIG DANDERY BUTT to prove it, and my vet is going to YELL AT ME.

PPPS I had my first ever book club bookings yesterday---one over the phone with a pack of wild high school persons (TEENAGERS! WHO READ!!! I felt I should dart them and tag their ears while they were down so we could make sure they survive once they were released from bookclub back into their own habitat. Did you catch the IMPORT of what i just said??? I spoke to REAL, ACTUAL, ALIVE, READING TEENAGERS!!! Praise the Lord and pass the chips. THEY ARE NOT A MYTH! A neat bunch of smarties they were, too.

Then the second was local so I got to actualy GO---it was a bunch of women around my age who had the good sense to 1) be funny and smart and 2)hold their book club meetings at a WINE AND DESSERT BAR. I am going to go now and write more books real quick so I can go BACK.

Posted by joshilyn at May 20, 2005 8:05 AM

Dernit! Now I gotta go buy another book! (Yeah, as if this book-a-holic needed encouraging.)
Darting and tagging teens? *chuffle snork* Wow! Why didn't somebody think of that before?
P.S. You are pretty!

Posted by: David at May 20, 2005 10:29 AM

Finally! Someone who sees us as we really are! Thanks for coming to the club and we will keep an eye on the stalker. And, of course, you have a standing invitation and we do hope to see you again (Ellen might say "expect")

Posted by: Chris at May 20, 2005 10:48 AM

You left out the part where you and Marianne talked for hours about World of Warcraft, because I KNOW YOU DID. Fess up!

Posted by: Mir at May 20, 2005 11:20 AM

Sassy writer grrls who play WoW?

Man! I'm hanging out on the wrong blogs apparently. Jeez.

Posted by: Peter B. at May 20, 2005 11:20 AM

OMG I think you're wonderful anyway and now you tell me you've been to GENCON. As the saying goes these days, I heart you :)

Wookie and I do GENCON Europe (UK) almost every year they hold it and we were hoping to get to the Indy one this year, but the flights in August are EEK! so maybe next year, or the year after...

Posted by: Kitty at May 20, 2005 12:07 PM

I know teens who read. But, um, I won't lend them your book. I loved it, but I ain't handing them that much sex and language just yet. Their parents may come after me and I AM the minister's wife. But they all SAW my autographed copy and if they JUST HAPPEN to get it themselves and read it, it just ain't my fault. ;)

Posted by: Heather at May 20, 2005 12:17 PM

Hi, I've decided to de-lurk after many many months of reading your blog (discovered it by accident when I googled "virtue cookies" of all things). I've enjoyed your writing like gangbusters, so much so that I also bought gods in Alabama as soon as I could, and I just finished it today and --- WOW. WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW. I'm gonna spread your novel around like a virus, and I'm looking forward to the next one!

Congrats on a kickass first novel!

Posted by: Ms. Rufel from TX at May 20, 2005 8:59 PM

Well, I'll bet MY teenager was the first to read your book, Jos, since it arrived April 12 and she read it on the 14th. So neener. She loved it and has passed it to Molly, 16, Anya, 17, Amy, Heather, Lacy, Sabrina, Lena and it currently resides with Amanda. It really IS amazing how many teens read voraciously, and it's a wonderful thing to remember on those days when you break the strap on your favorite green shoes...... Jilly

Posted by: Jilly at May 20, 2005 9:14 PM