August 31, 2006



This is a pretty cool three questions, because first we have the fancy new LOGO, courtesy of Noah, and the author wrote the very book I plan to buy today. It's called Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA. I'm going to be reading/signing at the Borders in Athens, and the drive TO Athens ought to finish off the 11 CD unabridged HEAVY HANDED hyperdramatic boring miserable murder-and-angst filled CRAPPY audiobook I have been listening to for about 100 years. Which, I KNOW, right -- I should just throw it out. But I paid full retail for the dern thing (I bought it on the road instead of AUDIBLE-ing), so I am listening to EVERY FREAKIN WORD and wringing every possible drop of pleasure from it. It has provided I think 3 drops so far...

I expect MUCH better from this one, which will be my NEW audiobook---I always have one going. I am REALLY looking forward to it because the book sounds hilarious --- Intrigue and Machivellian schemes tear up the PTA when Applewood's elementary school gets the nod to be the location for George Clooney's next movie---and after 11 CDs of overwrought ponderous prose I am SO ready to be charmed. As a bonus, Lisa Kudrow read the audio version. Whee!

ALSO -- you have to love the Comic Book Art inspired cover:


PS Secreted in this interview is a link to a GREAT George Clooney story. Run and find out, oh my Rikki Tikkis....

JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in Long Island influence your work?

EM: First off, us Long Islanders suffer from a prepositional handicap. We don't say we grew up in Long Island, we say we grew up on Long Island. Why is that? People don't say they were born on Jamaica or that they grew up on Manhattan. I don't know where this oddity comes from, but it messes with our heads.

If that wasn't bad enough, we don't stand in line like everyone else. We stand on line. So when we tell someone to get on line and buy tickets for Snakes on a Plane, we're not talking about Fandango.

But prepositions aside, Long Island is unique in that it's a vast suburb with a more complicated caste system than anywhere in India (on India?). Indeed, there are class distinctions within class distinctions here, and people from, for instance, upper lower middle class will feel significantly superior to those from middle lower middle class. So growing up here made me acutely aware of ways in which people cling to status symbols to define their place in the community. It always felt like so much nonsense to me, and yet the sting of being judged for not wearing the right shoes or carrying the right handbag still smarts. I think that shows up in all of my fiction.

JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?

EM: SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA started out with the title GEORGE CLOONEY IS COMING TO APPLEWOOD, which everyone loved. Everyone, that is, except the legal department at HarperCollins, which insisted I change the title, unless I could get George Clooney's permission within the next forty-eight hours. I couldn't understand why my innocuous title was verboten, while Al Franken could call his book RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT. (Friends have suggested it's because Al Franken's title is factual, while mine is fictional.)

I don't think the lawyers expected me to actually try to obtain the permission, but I gave it my best shot. If anyone's interested in the chain of phone calls and disappointments this entailed, I blogged about it.

The upshot, of course, was that I didn't get permission, and so had to come up with a title that pleased both me and my editor. I was after something that would be obvious in its irony, and finally came up with SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA, suggesting Lichtenstein-esque cover art to drive the point home.

JJ: Tell us about your own experiences with the PTA and how they relate to writing SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA.

EM: I am, of course, a member of the PTA and have been for a number of years. Thus, people often assume I lifted experiences from my own life for the book. I didn't. However, I did try to capture some of the emotional essence of the experience. Understand that the book was conceived long before Desperate Housewives was on the air, and the myth of the perfect (and wholesome) suburban housewife was stubbornly prevalent. As an imperfect suburban housewife myself, I was eager to crack the veneer and show the heartache, pain and joy hidden beneath. It was a liberating experience.

Posted by joshilyn at August 31, 2006 12:36 PM

Congrats to Noah, the 3-Q's winner!! It really IS nice!! Also, kudo's to all the 4 designers, whom entered!! NOthing like a little aspiration, to bring out one's "talents."

Great interview.. and I agree the comic-book book-cover was wonderfully brilliant and fresh!!


Posted by: North at August 31, 2006 2:53 PM

Congrats Noah!

I will now break silence and admit I did the first design, but I can't be too disappointed it didn't win since I already have a fox doll.

Cool 3Q session. I'll be on the lookout for the book.

Posted by: DebR at August 31, 2006 5:37 PM

Woooo hoooooo! I didn't make anything, but that's why God made husbands (Noah is mine). All the congrats go to him, but of course I keep the prizes, which is all I really care about in life anyway.

Posted by: carolie at August 31, 2006 8:07 PM

Would like to add; that the news is saying a nasty storm is enroute to some places down south there in the USA.

Please know, many of us here in Canada.. are thinking of ya'll with prayers and hopes, it will subside.

May the universe provide safety for everyone in this storms path...


Posted by: North at August 31, 2006 10:56 PM

Thanks, North.
It's hitting my best friend at Camp Lejeune right now, and will hit here (in VA) tomorrow. She actually asked me to drive down there for a hurricane party. I had to remind her we weren't 20 anymore!!
WTG, Noah's wife, for finding such a fab husband that won you great prizes. That's just really cool!!
This books sounds pretty cool. I'll put it on my list and look for it next time I'm in the book store...

Posted by: dee at August 31, 2006 11:21 PM

gosh Dee, that's pretty scary; and If'n I were 20 again, I mighta bit on that invite too.. wild! Knowing me at 20--I would have been playing "Riders on the Storm."

Continuing prayers for ya'll... gosh almighty, I think M.O.(MotherNature) is in early stages of menopause?

Ok, I only mentioned way too early I did #3, b/c getting only 3 votes was giggable...and I'm a giggle-girl from a-way-back.

I really do have some class; I just forgot where I left it... : )


Posted by: North at September 1, 2006 2:40 AM

I too am addicted to the audiobooks. Even the incredibly crappy ones. Normally my book choices are at least a little snobby, but somehow I just can't throw out an audiobook. Instead I have to suffer through it and regularly tell it just how annoying it is. Glad I'm not alone, I guess.

Posted by: Jessica at September 1, 2006 8:56 AM

This is definitely a book I need to check out.

Oh, and DebR? I voted for your design! I like Noah's too, but I loved the ASL 'Q' and yours was my favorite.

Posted by: Aimee at September 1, 2006 10:50 AM

Nice interview. Too bad she couldn't use his name (I don't think the publicist really told him)

Wishing you a glorious Labor Day weekend!

Posted by: Marti at September 2, 2006 2:08 PM

Read gods in Alabama this weekend. . .twice. I am one who tends to read the first chapter of a book, the the last chapter, then everything in the middle. This drives my husband slap crazy, but it keeps me sane. And I normally read books--that is really GOOD books--no less than twice. I run through the first reading and savor the second. I tend to get REALLY involved in a book. . .I ponder it for days after, studying every little detail. And I gotta say, you did a fine job--'cause even though I THOUGHT I knew what was going on, I did NOT until the end.

Amazing, amazing job. What a gift you have. Now, I'm off to tell all my bloggity friends to read it too.

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