Saturday, March 2, 2013
The Green Eyed Monster
This one was tougher. "Well, I asked, if there's no mystery to solve, what would the characters DO?"
SAMANTHA WILDE: One day I sat staring at a mostly blank page, some distance through a novel, and thought, what would a mystery author do? I grew up the daughter of a novelist. My mother, Nancy Thayer, saturated my childhood home with novels. What’s a room without a bookshelf or a stack of books? What’s a room without floor to ceiling bookshelves? And among those thousands of stories, some of her most favorite, most absorbing, most addictive reads, heaps upon heaps of them: the mysteries.
I can’t be the first person to write that no one can plot like a good crime writer. You pick up the novel, read the first line, and for the next twenty-four hours your children run around screaming and begging for food. When you remerge, it’s like you just got off a plane from a trip abroad. You take a big gulp of air and remember your actual life.
I try to engage that genius of plotting I learn from suspense, although when you’re dealing with cranky mothers and envious friends and you can’t kill someone because it’s not that kind of book, you sometimes wish for another genre. In my most recent novel I wrote about envy. This led me into some research on envy, one of the seven deadly sins. I won’t say that envy makes the world go round (it doesn’t sound very good, does it?), but what’s a good story without it?
I asked an artist friend of mine, Sara Prentice Manela, to draw a cartoon of the envious T-Rex to accompany some of my essays on envy; she drew him “losing his envy.” Self-love for dinosaurs!
In the end, the cure for envy lies in one’s willingness to learn, to appreciate, admire and be a beginner. Of course, I don’t read books to learn how to write. I read books because I love to read. But any good book I read, particularly when I recognize a gift in the author I feel is weaker in me, offers a good education. Which is why, as my mother knows and certainly taught by example, a good writer always reads. And reads. And reads.
Tell me what you envy. Have you ever read a book that awakened your green-eyed monster?
HANK: And Sam is offering a copy of her book (in the US. only, okay?). How about--what--if anything--are you envous about?
Samantha Wilde is the author of I'll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home (both from Bantam Books). Here's the trailer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2bJ-glbr0
The at-home mother of three young children, she moonlights as a minister and a yoga teacher. She's the graduate of Smith College and Yale Divinity School and lives in Western Massachusetts.
In I'll Take What She Has... Best friends since kindergarten, Nora, a reserved English teacher, and Annie, an out-spoken stay-at-home mother, wrestle with the green-eyed monster when the new history department hire at the suburban Boston prep school where they teacher, Cynthia Cypress, arrives on campus. A missing grandmother, depressed sex therapist, and a financial crises add to the comedy in a novel about imperfect friendships, mixed up families, messy motherhood, and the quest for the greenest grass.