I was recently tagged for this interview by Kim Fay, author of The Map of Lost Memories, a lush, beautifully written and wildly entertaining novel that goes deep into the heart of 1920s Cambodia. Kim is a gifted writer and a warm, generous person who gives so much back to the writing community and I’m thrilled to be part of her Next Big Thing interview:
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I spent my early twenties working as a flight attendant and found the airline subculture to be so fascinating and unique that I knew I would eventually write about it. Flying all over the world, staying in a new hotel every night, meeting hundreds of new people every day…it was so intoxicating and difficult, intimate and lonely all at the same time.
What genre does your book fall under?
The topic is obviously very commercial, but I believe the writing skews a bit literary and covers deeper topics than what might be called “chick lit.”
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I would love to see Kirsten Dunst as Emily, the shy 23 year-old who finds both her awakening and her undoing up there in the sky. Dunst played a flight attendant superbly in the movie Elizabethtown. Although it wasn’t a movie about flight attendants, I think it captured the essence of that job and lifestyle better than any movie I’ve seen.
I fear it would be a challenge to cast Tien, the married man who throws Emily’s life into a tailspin. Hollywood isn’t known for embracing Asian males as romantic leads (I could devote an entire post to that prejudice). There is an actor named Vic Chao who might be perfect, though. Like Tien, he seems to exude this mix of gentleness and strength, sexiness and steadfastness.
Adrianne Palicki was flawless as Tyra from Friday Night Lights, and I think she would really showcase the various sides of KC, a twenty-year-old party girl who is looking for the father who abandoned her as a child. Like Tyra, she wasn’t given a lot of opportunities as a child, but she is willing to fight for a better life…if she isn’t sidetracked by her need for male attention.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A darkly funny, coming-of-age novel about two young flight attendants escaping troubled pasts.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published May 7 by St. Martin’s Press.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I think I spent about a decade writing it in my head, but as far as actual words to page, the first draft took about a year. Then after querying agents and working with a not-so-great one, ultimately, it went into the garbage. Then while I was in an MFA program, I spent about six months on a whole new first draft, which I revised for about a year before it sold.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I love books that combine women’s fiction with thoughtful and literary writing. Some of my favorites are Some Girls by Jillian Lauren, Still Life With Husband by Lauren Fox, and Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
All of the irresistible flight attendants I worked with. I love them and miss them and am thrilled that the old days will live on inside the pages of this book.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The ”inside baseball” details about the airline world – from swiping tiny bottles of liquor to smoking in the lavatory by way of a carefully timed flush, from the hazing of rookie flight attendants to the code of male flight attendant sexual orientation (red ties and lace-up shoes mean gay, blue ties and buckles mean straight).
I look forward to reading interviews with some of my favorite author friends next week:
Susan Segal – Susan and I were editors at Coast magazine together, and after successful hardcover and paperback runs, her moving and stunningly well-written novel, Aria, has just become available as an e-book. I highly recommend it.
Andee Reilly – Andee was the first person I met at grad school orientation and we have been writing and reading and editing and commiserating and dreaming together ever since. She is a creative writing instructor at Cal State Channel Island, and her novel, Satisfaction, is currently on submission with publishers. Ginny, her main character is compelling, funny, and endearingly obsessed with the Rolling Stones. I can’t wait to see it in print!
Jennifer Brody – I’m part of an online writer’s group led by Jen, and she is one of the most enthusiastic and supportive, not to mention prolific, writers around. Her debut novel about celebrity rehab is currently on submission.
Natashia Deon – Although Natashia and I haven’t met “in real life” we share an agent and a grad school. What I’ve read of her sweeping historical novel about three women on the eve of the Civil War absolutely blew me away. I am dying to read the rest when it inevitably gets published.