What inspired Trauma Queen?
I’ve noticed that when girls hit their tween/young teen years, they often feel embarrassed by their moms, even when they love their moms very much. Moms often feel as if their daughters are pulling away, and they’re not sure exactly why. It can be such a tricky time for both moms and daughters that I thought it would be fascinating to explore this theme in a book!
I loved Marigold, and her mother is such a great character! How do you come up with the characters for your books?
Thanks, Sammee! Mostly I just use my imagination, but I’m also always observing. New York is such a great town for people-watching and eavesdropping—wherever you go, you can notice someone quirky! I keep a little notebook in my pocket so I can jot down snatches of conversation, weird outfits, etc. So far, I haven’t been caught.
Is there a scene in the book which really stands out for you?
I don’t want to give out any spoilers, so all I’ll say is that I’m proud of the climax of the novel. As I was typing it, I was smiling and crying at the same time!
If you could cast a TV or film version of Trauma Queen who would be your ideal cast?
What a fun question! Hmm. Well as long as I could have absolutely any actor on the planet (because of course we’d have an unlimited budget!!!) for Becca I’d want someone fearless and vanity-free, like Kate Winslet, Toni Colette or Laura Linney. Marigold would be trickier to cast—she has to be just as intense as Becca, but in a quieter way. The actress who was so good in the Coen brothers’ True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld, could be perfect, or (in another year or so) Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men. For Gram, I think I’d want someone earthy and tough, like Melissa Leo. And now we have to find a role for George Clooney. Let’s make him Dad, or maybe the principal, okay?
When I was a kid, I read constantly. Two books that had an especially strong impact on me were Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Jo March made me want to become an “authoress,” and I found Francie Nolan fascinating—an ordinary girl who was so sensitive and complex. When you read characters like these (over and over!), your brain naturally starts creating characters on its own.
What is your favourite aspect of being a writer? And the most challenging? The best thing about being a writer is… writing! Yes, it’s often agonizing, but when it’s going well, there’s nothing better than thinking about characters and words all day long. The second best thing is hearing from readers. I feel as if I have friends all over the world! As for the most challenging thing—well, I’m not the most patient person, so it’s hard for me to wait eighteen months or so to see a manuscript become a book. Once I’ve written something, I just want to share it right away!
What is a typical writing day like for you? Are there any ‘must-haves’ you need before you sit down to write?
I get the kids off to school, exercise on the treadmill and get to work until they come home. When I’m writing I confess I chew a lot of sugarless gum and drink gallons of herbal tea. I’m trying my best to drink green tea these days, but what I really like is Chamomile Mango, because it’s sweet. And if I get writer’s block, I’m allowed to have chocolate. Unlike Becca, I’ve never declared a Chocolate Day—but it’s tempting!
Thanks Barbara! And yes, I agree, there should be a role for George Clooney! In fact, there should always be a role for George Clooney lol
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