January 12, 2006

Three Questions with Andi Buchanan (and SEVERAL Contest Results)

LiteraryMama.com is a website that is practically synonymous with "Smart writing about all facets of motherhood." Now its creators have edited an anthology of LM's best writing. I sat down with co-editor Andi Buchanan to talk about all the irons she has heating in her fire...


JJ: What is the relationship between writing and motherhood? (I mean this in a personal way -- for you. Does one feed the other, are they similar for you, does doing one make doing the other harder --- or easier or...

AB: For me, becoming a mother helped me become a real writer -- before I had my first child, I was writing, and had been working as an editor for eight years, but I was terrified of sending my own stuff out and facing rejection. But after having my daughter, I realized the pain of a possible rejection letter was nothing compared to the pain of giving birth without an epidural, so I got over myself. (Also, once my daughter was born, I had something very compelling to write about: the huge identity shift that happens when a woman becomes a mother.)

JJ: Where did the idea for Literary Mama (the website) come from and how did you develop it from an idea into the kind of website that can spawn a published book?

AB: Amy Hudock, who's Literary Mama's editor-in-chief, ran a real-time writing group for women writing about motherhood in California. She and I met after the publication of my first book, "Mother Shock," in 2003, and she was interested in trying to get published a collection of the work these women were doing in her group. However, it seemed like a collection of that nature would need a bigger framework -- not just women from the Bay Area writing about motherhood, but women all over writing about motherhood. Literary Mama emerged from that notion. We launched the site in November 2003, and in January 2005 I pitched the idea of an anthology featuring the best stuff from the site to my editor at Seal. She went for it, we worked with the 20-plus editors all over the country to choose the pieces we felt best exemplified the magazine, and just a little over two years after launching, we have our first collection -- "Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined."

JJ: What's up next for you?

AB: In April, the companion book to my anthology that came out last December, "It's a Boy," is due out: "It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters," featuring essays by Joyce Maynard, Katharine Weber, and other fantastic writers. It's an intense collection, and I'm excited for it to be published, especially because I think it makes such a nice set with the "Boy" book. I'm also working on a novel, and working with writer Miriam Peskowitz on "Mother Talk," which is a series of literary salons organized around mother-writers (both visiting and local) taking place all across the country. (We've had them in Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Charleston, SC; Portland, Ashland, and Bend, OR; Seattle, WA; and Los Angeles, CA.) I'm in Seattle right now on a book tour, and I'll be doing a Mother Talk here, one in San Francisco, and one in Sacramento.


THANKS ANDI! By the way, the contributor list for It's a Girl is awesome, including Amy Bloom, Joyce Maynard, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Katharine Weber....Can't wait.

And now some quick contest results...

I think the serious crazies where you are a danger to oneself and others begins at around 75, and I peaked out at about 70 that day, but that was around noon.... BUT THEN! My friend Karen drove all the way out here from the city to little kudzu coated my house, and she brought me smoked salmon salad from Whole Foods and sat on the sofa with me and looked at my wedding album and SHE IS PRETTY. SO, yeah, while, while I peaked at 70, when the cable repairman arrived, my MI# was a relatively collected 33, and I was only sniffly and puling, not foaming. There was no way to predict, of course, that Karen would be so lovely, but there it is. 33 is the answer.

WINNERS: Ailema, who guessed 33 right on the button, and then EVERYONE else was over except Cele, who guessed 5, but since this is Price is Right style scoring where you have to come closest without going over, Cele takes the silver. Could you two please e-mail me snail addies and I will get your SEKRUT PRIZES out to you, probably at the end of next week in the Great Mailing. If you lost, FEAR NOT! I have a few more of these SEKRUT PRIZES that will be up for grabs in later contests, and by THEN I may even be able to tell you what the prize IS!

I will have B4B Finalists list up TOMORROW. Pinky swear.

Posted by joshilyn at January 12, 2006 10:14 AM

33? You are a paragon of serenity...an island of calm...in short, a completely reasonable person! I? Would never have found out what was wrong with the cable...because I would have eaten the repairman's head the moment he appeared on my doorstep. I am so proud of you! ;)

Posted by: Amy-GO at January 12, 2006 11:10 AM

Sounds awesome. I want a t-shirt. Literary Mama. Neat.

Posted by: Heather at January 12, 2006 11:14 AM

Cele -PPPPPphhhhhhttttpppptttt
Teachers pet.

Posted by: Angela at January 12, 2006 11:16 AM

I don't deserve silver. I really don't because I did the calculation completely wrong....buttttttt

Thank you :) a lot

Posted by: Cele at January 12, 2006 12:03 PM

I loved AB's first book, Mothershock, it really helped me get though the postpartum funk.

Since I am having baby number 2 in April, I guess I'll keep reading...

Keep up the good work.


Posted by: Karen at January 12, 2006 2:25 PM

I may have to read that book!

BTW, I bought a copy of gods to give to my best friend from high school for her birthday. We're both "southern gothic literature" chicks, so I know she'll love it!

Posted by: CMJennKirby at January 12, 2006 2:36 PM

But you are purdy, too, m'dear--especially with that pearl-encrusted spider-webby thing on your wedding dress and virginal hairpiece.

I'm glad you're sane again!

Posted by: Karen Abbott at January 12, 2006 3:15 PM

Loved It's a Boy! Thank you Andi!

Posted by: MoMMY at January 12, 2006 4:45 PM