Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Martha O'Connor

I gave myself yesterday off, but today I have to get back to work, since my editor's revisions on book 3 came by way of FedEx yesterday morning and I need to get book 4 to my agent this week. Plus, Mom and Dad are coming to visit tomorrow, which means frantic emergency house cleaning.

Fortunately, it's a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit day, so I can make someone else think of something clever to say. This is kind of a rerun, but my audience seems to have expanded a bit since then, so I decided not to subject the poor author to more inane questions from me. My guest this week is Martha O'Connor, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Bitch Posse, which is now out in paperback.

This book is the story of three young women, their passionate friendship, and the terrible secret that inextricably binds them together. O'Connor weaves past and present from the perspectives of three best friends, Rennie, Amy, and Cherry – as rebellious teens and then as grown women in their mid-30's coping with the repercussions of their actions. As high school seniors, the girls form a tight circle of friends – which they name the Bitch Posse – in order to lash out against tumultuous situations in their lives. But as steadfast as their friendship is, it's not enough to protect the girls from circumstances that cause all three of their lives to spiral out of control.

Flash-forward to the present, where one girl is now a wife and mother-to-be, trying to uphold a life of normalcy for herself and her family. One is a writer with a sexual addiction that sucks her into destructive relationships. And one is incarcerated in a mental hospital – and has been since one fateful night fifteen years ago, when a betrayal led them to commit a crime that profoundly changed their destinies.

What inspired you to write this book?
I think I was just ready to write this book. I sat down to distract myself from another novel that was making the submission rounds (and never did end up getting placed). I was so disgusted and disheartened at the entire publishing industry, and I was ANGRY. I figured no one would ever publish The Bitch Posse anyway, so the one and only person I was writing it for was... me. And that freed me to turn off all the censors, something I desperately needed to do in order to write honestly about these characters.. particularly Rennie, whose teenaged affair with her teacher is echoed by her sexual addiction 15 years later.

How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine(s)?
While I have not based any of the characters on myself or people I know, each one of the girls (and women) holds a little piece of me. Of course, I am a writer and used to be a teacher, like Rennie. Cherry feels the need to look after people, just as I do. And Amy's a mother -- and when you become a mother, the whole world changes in a very profound way. Instead of living only for yourself, you start living for someone else's sake as well. And I was able to access those emotions when writing about Amy's struggle with her premature baby, Lucky.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
The best thing that happened to me was chronic failure. I was sure no one was watching nor would they EVER watch, and that freed me to write my heart out.

For more information, visit Martha's website.

Speaking of success following failure (boy, can I identify), I got the great news yesterday that one of my writer friends got a great two-book deal after years of struggle. She has the same former publisher I had, and she'd faced similar problems with them, where they just didn't want anything else she sent them. Now she's finally found someone who recognizes her talent, and I'm so happy for her. Her e-mails are so lyrical, poignant and funny, full of warmth and humor, that I can't wait to read her novels. She's writing southern magical realism, and I think I'm going to offer to blurb her book so I can get a sneak peek. Don't worry, I'll be sure to blab all about her book as it nears publication. I think I was almost as happy to hear about her contract as I was to get my own comeback book deal. There was squealing and flappy hands of joy, which I don't recall doing for myself (I was too busy rushing out to buy shoes).

I think for the rest of the week I'll do a series of posts on chick lit, since that's what I've been saving up in Book Report content, and I have that Jane Austen stuff to talk about. Now, though, I have to get the house company clean, which may require unpacking and doing laundry.

1 comment:

Sarah Addison Allen said...

Shanna, you're so sweet. Thanks for the kind words!