Any chance I get, I'll tout from the rooftops the books of my pals. It's an honor to do so for Margo Candela, an award-winning novelist whose latest book, Good-bye to All
(Touchstone/Simon & Schuster; July 13, 2010; $14/paper;
1-4165-7135-3), is a must-read those of us who love the combination of sharp wit and heartfelt pathos in contemporary women’s fiction.
After reading an advance copy of the book, I realized how much in awe I am of Margo, and asked her to share her process with me (and you). I also dared her to answer something truthfully, befitting my latest effort: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives: "What is the one lie you've told — or one secret you've kept — from your husband?"
I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I have,
1. Why did you just have to write Goodbye to All
I work from home and have no one to boss around,
or annoy but myself. As a consequence, I’ve developed a thing for office
life. I’m fascinated by it and can listen for hours when friends talk
about their lives at the office. When I started to think about writing
book, I knew I wanted it to be about working in an office for a big
how a character lets her life be taken over by her job.
2. What writers inspire you?
I have writer crushes on Anne Tyler and Delia
Ephron. I read
Anne Tyler’s books when I was a teenager and had no idea that I could or
would ever do any sort of writing in my life. She’s just a wonderful
story teller who makes quirky people the center of her books. Delia
such a tidy and funny writer. Being funny isn’t easy and she does it
such grace. If I could become a writer of tidy, funny novels featuring
people, I’d be very happy.
3. Explain your process as a writer.
I treat what I do as a job. Even when I’m not
I’m on the clock. I set goals and expect myself to meet if not exceed
them. I mark my productivity by how many words I write and spend plenty
shuffling around numbers to make sure I’m where I’m supposed to be
by the end of the day, week and month. The closer I get to the magic end
number, the better I feel. I guess it’s kind of like running a marathon
and at some point you just feel no pain. You know you’re going to finish
one way or another and that’s what keeps you going.
Another big part of my process is outlining. I
start a book without one and they’re not much more elaborate than what I
was taught in 8th grade English. In fact they might be even
pared down now as I’ve found what works for me. After I get the outline
squared away, it’s just a matter of sitting down to do the work. If I
don’t put in the time and the effort, nothing will get done. And,
I’ve found, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a
manuscript to its completion. It’s such a relief to have something come
together after months of work. And I live for the moment when I can say
“I’m done” and I really am.
4. If you could give an aspiring writer just one
advice, what would it be?
I still consider myself an aspiring writer because
Word document I open, I want to be better a writer and for the process
smoother than the last time. Really, it’s all about doing the work and
knowing what you want to and can write. I’d never attempt science
even though I read it, because I know I wouldn’t do a good job. I write
to my strengths, accept my weakness and always strive to be a better
5. What is the one lie you've told – and the one
secret you've kept from — the man in your life?
I’m married so I lie a lot by just not saying
things. If I can’t keep something to myself, I just come out and say
I’m doing or have done. Because I’m so open about it, my husband
assumes I’m joking. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. It keeps him
off balance. Poor guy doesn’t know what to believe anymore, but it works
If I do have to fess up to something, I’ll finally
admit that I’m really not some super freak genius at the Weekend Edition
Sunday Puzzle with Will Shortz on NPR. What I do is wake up early and
it when it’s first run during the 6 a.m. hour and get back into bed.
the clock radio goes off later that morning at 8, I know all the
Sorry, honey, your wife is more crafty than smart. Wow, that’s a weight
off my shoulders. Now I can finally start sleeping in on Sundays.
About Good-bye To All That:
"Margo Candela combines a cunning wit with a deep
understanding of the office politics specific to the entertainment
create a frantic atmosphere and a near breathless momentum as the story
toward an ending that's anything but your focus grouped happy
fade-out." –Publishers Weekly
Raquel Azorian, 25, has worked her way from temp to
executive assistant and is this close to a promotion to junior marketing
at Belmore Corporation, the media behemoth she’s devoted herself to.
She’s learned to play the Hollywood game while still keeping her skirt
length to her knees and her pantyhose run free. All she needs is for her
a venerable marketing legend, to sign her promotion memo. Instead of
pen to paper, he suffers a very public meltdown that puts not only his
at Belmore, but also Raquel’s on the line.
It’s not just Raquel’s professional life
that’s a mess, her whole family is in turmoil and Raquel is forced to
become the intermediary between her father and mother and her brother
wife while trying to figure out how to save her job and not derail her
romance with the man of her dreams. A chance encounter in bookstore café
with a toothsome star in the making provides Raquel with the perfect
to climb the next rung on the Belmore ladder. Unfortunately for her, the
clashing of her personal and professional life is making that rung hard
When the chaos of juggling so many lives reaches a
point, Raquel realizes she’s going to have to choose—success at
work or happiness at home. Whatever choice she makes, Raquel knows it
cost her, but part of her is still pulling for her very own Hollywood
SingleMindedWomen.com is running an excerpt of GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT. To read it, click here…