Monday, December 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Huge thanks to my dear and talented friend Myfanwy Collins for tagging me in this blog chain interview called The Next Big Thing. You can read Myf's interview here, and I hope you'll consider buying both her brilliant new short story collection, I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND, and her exquisite novel, ECHOLOCATION.

And now here's my interview ...

What is your working title of your book? 

The book's gone to press, so at this point it's safe to say it's an official (as opposed to working) title: Farewell, Dorothy Parker.

Where did the idea come from? 

On some level, I think I carried the idea around with me since I fell in love with Dorothy Parker back in high school, and never stopped imagining what she might say about my life or about this whole crazy modern world.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Good question. I suppose you could call it general fiction, since that's where you'll find it in the bookstore. Some might assume it's paranormal since the ghost of Dorothy Parker is a main character, but I prefer to think of it as magical realism, as it's mostly pretty grounded.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version? 

One of my favorite questions! For Violet, the timid movie critic, the divine Emma Stone. (Is that girl talented or what?) For Dorothy Parker, who else but Meryl Streep? She would inhabit the part and breathe extraordinary life into this extraordinary woman.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

A timid woman movie critic accidentally unleashes the ghost of Dorothy Parker, who becomes her mentor, tormentor and,with any luck, friend.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Not self-published--traditionally published. It's coming out in hardcover from Putnam on February 21, with simultaneous ebook release. It will also be an audiobook from AudioGo. There are ordering links on the right. I'm represented by the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

About a year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

I think it's a little bit like Julie and Julia, as there's a mentor relationship between a young woman and her hero. But in Farewell, Dorothy Parker the main character is face-to-face with her larger-than-life idol.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

The spark was lit when I looked at the long list of Jane Austen-inspired titles and thought, Someone should do that for Dorothy Parker. My next thought was, Oh, me! 

In the movie version of this answer, we'd cut from there to a scene of me sitting at my desk several months later, as I struggle with capturing the essence of the twentieth century's greatest American wit, and all I can type is:
What was I thinking?

Of course I kept at it and somehow managed to pull it all together. I'm awfully proud of the result.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I'll let Publishers Weekly tell you:

"Meister skillfully translates the rapier-like wit of the Algonquin Round Table to modern-day New York ... [with] pathos, nuanced characters, plenty of rapid-fire one-liners, and a heart-rending denouement."

Thanks so much for reading my interview. I'm thrilled to tag the following writer friends to post about their Next Big Thing: Mary Akers, T.J. Forrester, Dina Santorelli


Myfanwy Collins said...

This is wonderful, Ellen. The choice of Meryl Streep for Dorothy Parker is INSPIRED!

Mary Akers said...

I concur! Go Ellen, go Dorothy, and go Meryl! (And thanks for tagging me.) :)

Susan said...

The reader of Ellen Meister's FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER might expect the past to come to life through the ghost of the fork-tongued Mrs Parker, unintentionally released by movie critic, Violet Epps. A brilliant wit in print, the aptly named Violet suffers from social phobia. When her life teeters on disaster in all the ways that count, Mrs Parker gives her a shove.

The story is absorbing, with more than a few surprises. I want to fall into it all over again.