Amy Bloom, Susan Gilman, Lian Moriarty, and Randy Meyers tackle ups and downs of women's fiction
Taking the stage at the 2014 BookExpo America booksellers trade show as moderator of a panel of four award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors of contemporary women's fiction, Elin Hildebrand, herself a bestselling author of the summer beach book hit The Matchmaker (Little, Brown and Company; June, 2014), set on Nantucket with a protagonist whose last name is Beech, introduced Australian author Lian Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies (Putnam; July, 2014); former bartender Randy Susan Meyers, author of the forthcoming Accidents of Marriage (Atria Books; September, 2014); practicing psychotherapist and Yale University professor Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us (Random House; July, 2014); and native New York writer of three previous non-fiction books Susan Jane Gilman Susan, whose first novel is titled The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street (Grand Central Publishing; June, 2014). Hildebrand began by asking each panelist to reveal their career low points, which elicited stories of writer's block, an embarrassing Skype interview,and awkward experiences with fans and former psychotherapy patients. Going 'juicy early,' as Hildebrand put it, she proceeded to ask the authors to admit if they had ever been jealous of another writer, which they had, of course, and what their ideal alternative career paths would have been, yielding a range of answers from delusional rock star and hugging guru to playing the part of a TV doctor and being a Lady of Downton Abbey or a monarch of a fantasy nation. Speaking to a question about books that made them cry, Amy Bloom and Susan Jane Gilman gave a shout out to Carol Shields before the panelists detailed the processes behind how their stories take shape. Hildebrand wrapped the event with a question about their career high points, prompting Gilman to recall how she learned that her second non-fiction book, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, was debuting on the New York Times bestseller list, whereupon she called her high school English teacher, who was none other than the late, great author Frank McCourt. The authors then took questions from the audience on their experiences in publishing their first books, resulting in tales of shock, overly high expectations and taming the 'monster within;'whether women's fiction is a genre with boundaries; what the new trends in contemporary women's fiction were, to which Bloom replied bluntly that aspiring writers should forget about trends; and what advice they had for women fiction writers to which the authors responded that one has to have 'ass-in-the-chair' discipline and write the truth.
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