January 7, 2010

Three Questions with Leila Meacham (Yes, Virginia, It has a Prize Drawing. Phear the RNG...)

I am still working on my New Year’s Resolutions, mostly by reading yours and trying to picture myself taking them on. I wish more of you had resolved to eat whole crowds of HoHos. I am trying to detox and therefore off all processed foods, white flour, sugar, and alcohol, and the one that is REALLY bothering me is the SUGAR. A good way to commit a foolproof murder would be to talk your intended victim into dipping their head in a vat of melted dark chocolate with candied orange rind and then send them to waft fragrantly back and forth in front of my house. I’d have that head off and gobbled by the third pass.

So far all I have resolved is to think about this crap earlier next year, as it will be JUNE before I decide what vast soul-landscape improvements to rigorously fail at accomplishing this year. I have been READING a lot recently, mostly thanks to my friend Miriam at Hachette who sent me a box of tasty ARCS. (Her take on resolutions? “I think [they] are silly and generally resolve to do things like ‘be a better liar...’” She is my hero.)

One of the books she sent me was Roses which Library Journal endorses, saying,” Readers who like an old-fashioned saga will devour this sprawling novel of passion and revenge. Highly recommended.” Publishers Weekly calls Roses an “enthralling stunner, a good old-fashioned read.”

I agree with them. I ate this multigenerational tale of two families warring it up across Texas history with the same alacrity with which I would gobble the chocolate coated candy head of your most mortal enemy. It reminded me strongly of being twelve and stealing my mother’s copy of The Thorn Birds and reading it while nomming a heap of equally illicit Carob chips pilfered from the baking cabinet. I got righteously high on lice and forbidden passions and faux chocolate. (I don’t mean I had lice. I mean the lice incident in Thorn Birds, remember?) That’s how I felt reading this book, too, but alas, alas, without the candy.

If sprawling family sagas are your cup of tea, Miriam is providing two hardback, first edition copies as prizes. You knowThe Rules, stolen shamelessly from my OTHER friend Mir’s bargain-hunter-shopping blog, Want Not. The basic version, you leave a comment here before midnight, EST on SUNDAY, JANUARY 10TH, and then we let the ice-cold cruelty of the Random Number Generator love as it wishes.

And now, Three Questions with Leila Meacham:

JJ: How did you find an agent?

LM: This is one of those It’s Who You Know (which doesn’t work as often as the adage would imply). One Saturday night at a dinner party, the guest seated next to me asked if I’d finished the book I was writing. I told her that I had. Monday morning she called to say something like: “Leila, I hope you won’t be mad at me, but I called my niece who is married to David McCormick, a literary agent in New York, and I told her that David should read your book. My niece told me that you should e-mail him.”

I was aghast. First, I had no idea that Louise even knew a literary agent, let alone was related to him. Second, I’d read that David McCormick does not like to be approached by e-mail in regard to manuscripts. Third, e-mail him? What was I to say? I hadn’t even composed a synopsis of my nearly 700 page novel! How would I introduce myself? And why would he care that a friend of his wife’s aunt had written a novel. Didn’t everybody?

But, I was between a rock and a hard place. I’d offend Louise if I didn’t do something, and I might offend her niece if, by chance (a big if) David McCormick should be looking to hear from me. So, I sent up a quick prayer to ask for guidance in writing the synopsis and not long afterwards, I fired it off to the e-mail address Louise had given me and wrote something like: “Tell me to go away if you do not wish to be approached in this manner.”

He did not tell me to go away. Instead he e-mailed me back that the novel “sounds intriguing” and asked me to send him the manuscript. That was around Christmas time, 2008. In the second week of the New Year, after reading the full text, he accepted the book for representation.

JJ: What do you think of the cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when writing the book?


LM: I think the cover is beautiful, probably the most tactile cover I’ve ever seen. When Deb Futter, editor-in-chief, introduced herself to me over the telephone after the book had been accepted for publication, one of the first things she said was, “The cover of this book deserves to be one of the most knock-down-dead covers ever seen in the publishing world.” I couldn’t imagine it, frankly. I could see the title for some reason, but not the artwork. We had to do a little jinking to get the colors of the petals just right, but the artist succeeded, and it has garnered much praise. I’m enormously pleased.

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

LM: Long ago and far away, it seems now, I had another title in mind. It was appropriate to the story and summed it up nicely, I believed. However, the more the symbolic significance of the rose was woven into the novel—what it represented to the families—I could see the title only and simply as ROSES.

Posted by joshilyn at January 7, 2010 7:50 AM

I want this book!

Posted by: JJ at January 7, 2010 8:38 AM

I snitched a copy of Gone with the Wind the summer after 5th grade and read nonstop for three weeks, so I can relate to the Thorn Birds story. I would love to read this one.

Posted by: Alison at January 7, 2010 8:47 AM

I did the same thing with the Thornbirds, minus the carob chips. I would love to read this book.

Posted by: Michelle at January 7, 2010 8:50 AM

Oh mighty Random Number Generator, love me, love me!

Posted by: Sandi at January 7, 2010 9:31 AM

I was old enough I didn't have to sneak the Thornbirds - but I certainly gobbled in one greedy reading.

Posted by: Mit at January 7, 2010 9:35 AM

I never win, please pick me! I haven't read a really good saga in a long time. Mmmmm, saga, blue cheese. I resolve to eat only good, stinky cheese this year. No processed cheese for me.

Posted by: Jess H at January 7, 2010 9:35 AM

Pick me! Pick me!

Posted by: Nikki at January 7, 2010 9:57 AM

Ha! I remember illicitly reading The Thornbirds too--only w/o carob chips. YUCK! Those aren't candy. Dark chocolate with candied orange bits--that's more like it.
And the COVER! I love that cover! I want this book.

Posted by: edj at January 7, 2010 9:57 AM

The only thing better than a great novel is a great FREE novel.

Posted by: Laura F at January 7, 2010 10:10 AM

There is indeed a fabulous, almost 3-D quality to the cover art. The description of the book sounds enticing, and I would be proud to give it a good home and a good read. :)

Posted by: JMyersbook at January 7, 2010 10:21 AM

Ooh, I want this book. I loved the Thorn Birds too, though I don't remember reading it illicitly. My parents didn't pay much attention to what I read.

Posted by: Becky at January 7, 2010 10:23 AM

I can remember that feeling so well! Please, random generator god, please pick me.

Posted by: Kathy at January 7, 2010 10:29 AM

That book sounds awesome!

Posted by: Robin at January 7, 2010 10:42 AM

Ooh, I'd love to win it! My beloved grandmother gave me Thorn Birds to read and my mom was aghast, but didn't try to stop me.

Carob chips? Boooo

Posted by: Carrie (in MN) at January 7, 2010 10:45 AM

*crossing my fingers and hoping kind RNG will pick me*

Posted by: Erika at January 7, 2010 10:55 AM

I'm pretty sure that my mother handed me her copy of The Thorn Birds (after I had exhausted nearly every other literary possibility in the house) and told me to have at it. Of course, my dad also gave me The Shining to read in 6th grade, so clearly I've been scarred for life. Anyhoodles, I'd LOVE to win a new novel! Yay, new-book smell!

Posted by: ellbee at January 7, 2010 10:56 AM

Ooh, I love that cover! You can practically smell it.

I'd love to win the book, O Random Number Generator!

Posted by: Aimee at January 7, 2010 11:06 AM

I'll be praying to the All Powerful Random Number Generator God.

Posted by: heather at January 7, 2010 11:12 AM

Dear Random Number Generator,
Please pick me if for no other reason than because I live in a town rife with rumors of Thorn Birds.

Posted by: Kim at January 7, 2010 11:18 AM

I want that cover translated to fabric so I can make a quilt out of it...but then I'd probably never cut it up and just fondle it periodically. Pretty!

Makes me want to finally read The Thornbirds. (Don't hate me!)

Posted by: Jen at January 7, 2010 11:29 AM

Please please please pick me!!

Posted by: Katie at January 7, 2010 11:32 AM

That is amazing luck to have come across an agent that easily.

Posted by: Billie at January 7, 2010 11:40 AM

I was actually NAMED for Meg in the Thornbirds. Also? LOVE.

Posted by: Megan at January 7, 2010 11:44 AM

Sounds intriguing... and I LOVE that cover!

Posted by: Darla at January 7, 2010 11:55 AM

I'd love to win- Does RNG accept bribes?

Posted by: Emily at January 7, 2010 11:56 AM

Mmmm... fresh book! Please enter me!

Posted by: Kristin at January 7, 2010 11:59 AM

That is a gorgeous cover, and it sounds like a really interesting story!

Posted by: redzils at January 7, 2010 12:03 PM

Would love to read this book, it sounds scrumptious. And the cover is indeed, drop dead gorgeous.

Posted by: Rebecca at January 7, 2010 12:14 PM

I reread Thorn Birds every couple of years. Very bad for a former little Catholic School girl.

Posted by: Jo at January 7, 2010 12:29 PM

i need roses.....

Posted by: dramamama at January 7, 2010 12:39 PM

Pick me! please?

Posted by: Cristin at January 7, 2010 12:58 PM

Hey! I'm picking my resolutions the same way. I bet there are lots of us out there. Today, from some blog, I learned to call them "intents" not resolutions. I like that.

Posted by: pam at January 7, 2010 1:11 PM

I got Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin for Christmas..I need something LIGHT. Heh.

Posted by: tuney at January 7, 2010 1:33 PM

I was JUST looking at this book in a store the other day -- that gorgeous cover pulled me right over to it! I'd love to read it! (Perhaps I can resolve to win a contest this year, thereby empowering YOU to make my resolution to come true?!)

Posted by: Diane at January 7, 2010 1:35 PM

Multi-generational sagas were my first "grown-up" novels, Gone With The The Wind and The Thorn Birds being just two of the more well-known of those kind of books. I loved reading those novels, and I am thrilled that someone has written a new one. I just read about "Roses" today in the news and then I popped over her to your blog and there you have a 3Q with the author -- very cutting edge!

Posted by: Michelle at January 7, 2010 2:15 PM

This looks reeeally good!

Posted by: Jenn at January 7, 2010 2:24 PM

Sounds yummy! Please pick me...

Posted by: Kelly H. at January 7, 2010 2:25 PM

(wait, carob is candy?? oh noes!)

That book sounds lovely, and your agent story made me laugh. Best of luck, Leila!

Posted by: Jess at January 7, 2010 2:34 PM

Sounds great! I'm looking for something new to read.

Posted by: Katie B at January 7, 2010 2:34 PM

That's a to-be-coveted cover. Beautiful.

Posted by: Meg Moseley at January 7, 2010 2:54 PM

I don't really like new-years resolutions. Most of the time they're about hating yourself. The one good I've heard about was a friend who made a list of all the guys she liked but hadn't yet been with and resolved to hook up wih each and everyone. But she only got to the first one on the list, and years later she's still with him, so that's how that went.

Posted by: Åsa at January 7, 2010 4:26 PM

After the BUSY 3 weeks I've had, I need to sit with my nose in a good book for a while. Please, random number thingy....pick me!!!

Posted by: Denise at January 7, 2010 4:27 PM

I came, I saw, I'd like to read this...

Posted by: Bridget at January 7, 2010 4:38 PM

Sounds like a wonderful read. I love this type of book.

Posted by: Lynne at January 7, 2010 5:10 PM

Beautiful cover, indeed!

Posted by: Heather at January 7, 2010 5:38 PM

Me please!

Posted by: jean at January 7, 2010 5:39 PM

me me me!

Posted by: Dani at January 7, 2010 5:42 PM

"Sprawling novel of passion and revenge." Awesome.

Posted by: cheryl at January 7, 2010 5:48 PM

Absolutely dying to read this book! Perfect escape for a snowed-in weekend (like right now!)

Posted by: PattiH at January 7, 2010 6:53 PM

Wow, i totally want this book, too!

*dips Random Number Generator in dark chocolate and candied orange rind*

Posted by: Rachel at January 7, 2010 7:22 PM

not nearly as elegant, but i used to steal my mother's Sandra Brown books and hide them under my bed. I owe a great deal of my ::ahem:: education to Texas, Sage! --Anyhoo, turns out ...upteen years later, she always knew I snitched them and didn't do anything about it. Her words? "Ya gotta find out somehow."

By the way, many years ago, I resolved to make no more resolutions on December 31st. Never broke it. Strength of will and all.

Posted by: Suzanne at January 7, 2010 7:59 PM

Well, the orange rind would prevent me from eating the head of your mortal enemy. I prefer the purity of the dark chocolate on its own. Then said mortal enemy's head would be in serious danger.

Posted by: Catherine at January 7, 2010 8:05 PM

The cover is lovely.

Posted by: Olive Cooper at January 7, 2010 9:10 PM

The Thorn Birds is the only thing that kept me from running away from college. Not sure why I didn't think to just take the book with me?

Love the cover of Roses! It is glorious. I would love to win this book. But since it's Mir's rules and I never win hers stuff, I have faint hope (j/k, love Mir), still, count me in!

Posted by: Karen at January 7, 2010 9:13 PM

Sounds great!

Posted by: Darci at January 7, 2010 9:22 PM

Sounds like a fantastic read.

Posted by: Jennifer Morgan at January 7, 2010 10:04 PM

I think your RNG is The Prettiest RNG EVAH!!!! (Will that work?)

Posted by: Roxanne at January 7, 2010 11:09 PM

Yes please. I love contests. Even if the winner(s) are randomly selected.

Posted by: Emily at January 7, 2010 11:27 PM

Leila in person is more beautiful than the cover of ROSES. I would be honored to win her book because I know the years of hard work inside it.

Posted by: Donna at January 8, 2010 3:22 AM

Ooh, ooh, ooh...pick me, pick me.

Posted by: Jan in Norman, OK at January 8, 2010 9:17 AM

Sounds like the kind of book you might need to read as a book instead of on an electronic reader. Pick me!

Posted by: Catherine at January 8, 2010 9:58 AM

I didn't care much for the thorn birds, but ohdeargod I LOOOOOVED her Rome series.

I'm all up for a big fat juicy novel, so please add me to the list for the RNG.

Posted by: Phyllis at January 8, 2010 10:04 AM

OOOOOHHHHH!!! I just picked back up Gone with the Wind this year over Christmas. Haven't read it in AGES and would love, love, love my very own copy of Roses. By all that is holy and right, I don't want to go muli-gen sagaless again.

Oh, RANDOM GENERATING GODDESSES (cuz we all know who is the smartest and bestest and most hardworkingest), please, puh-lease pick lil' ol' me.

And I'm from Ft. Worth - the best city in our grand state. :-)

Posted by: Susan at January 8, 2010 11:40 AM

The library says that I owe them $37, so I can't go back there anytime soon. But a new book would be swell.

Posted by: emily jane at January 8, 2010 11:43 AM

I would love to win your contest for this beautifully-covered book. Thanks for this (and for your writing genius-ness).

Posted by: Joanna at January 8, 2010 12:37 PM

I need a good new read!

Posted by: GLory Words at January 8, 2010 2:28 PM

I'm thinking that I need to read the thorn birds. And this one too of course.

Just last week I turned in my request for Backseat Saints at the library.

Posted by: Linda J at January 8, 2010 5:24 PM

I would love to win this!! It sounds great and, either way, I'll be reading it soon. Thanks for this chance.

Posted by: Pamela L at January 8, 2010 5:32 PM

The cover is beautiful. I want this book!

Posted by: Michelle M. at January 8, 2010 5:42 PM

I've never read Thorn Birds! Totally not sure how I missed it. Emily jane, how did the $37 fine happen? We owed $26 last time we went, for several dvds. The policy had changed from one week to four days, and my darling genius husband TOTALLY overlooked that fact.

Posted by: elizabeth at January 8, 2010 5:54 PM

I am intrigued. Fingers crossed!


Posted by: Momsy at January 8, 2010 5:59 PM

The book sounds fantastic -- I want a copy! And the cover IS very beautiful.

Posted by: Theresa at January 8, 2010 9:16 PM

I would love to touch this cover to see if the petals are real!! I LOVE good covers, but only if they are surrounding wonderful stories. I'd love to win!

Posted by: Melody at January 9, 2010 9:19 AM

I would love to touch this cover to see if the petals are real!! I LOVE good covers, but only if they are surrounding wonderful stories. I'd love to win!

Posted by: MelodySmith at January 9, 2010 9:20 AM

Pretty! Hmm....does it 'smell' like roses??
Please consider me, RNG!

Posted by: Teri at January 9, 2010 9:30 AM

Damn, that sound's so easy if you think about it.

Posted by: Ruletní systémy at January 9, 2010 7:08 PM

Sounds awesome@

Posted by: Allison at January 9, 2010 8:12 PM

Beautiful cover! Would love to read it. I curse the RNG gods cause I will NEVER win - so I will look for it elsewhere. :) Thanks for the book hint.

Posted by: Les in AZ at January 9, 2010 9:46 PM

Sounds like a great book - I'd love to read it...!

Posted by: Liz at January 10, 2010 5:44 AM

I would absolutely love to read this.

Posted by: Isabel at January 10, 2010 9:16 AM

The book sounds great. Hope the RNG gods are on my side.

Posted by: Rita at January 10, 2010 11:45 AM

I cannot believe this will work!

Posted by: выиграть в рулет at January 10, 2010 1:31 PM

Gimmie da book, please. I want it I want it I want it. Thank you :-)

Posted by: Henry L Henley at January 10, 2010 7:11 PM

I am going to keep trying sort of like Susan Lucci....

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at January 10, 2010 8:55 PM

The cover is so beautiful. I would love to win this book!

Posted by: Sheri Dearden at January 11, 2010 12:37 AM