Sunday, October 30, 2005

Interview With Melanie Lynne Hauser

So, after weeks of promising that I would interview Melanie Lynne Hauser, author of Confessions of Super Mom, the time has come! I posted my review of her book in a previous blog entry. But for those who are joining me for the very first time...what took you so long to find my blog? Uh, I mean, I know Melanie as a fellow writer from Backspace, the greatest website for authors in the world!

Anyhow...on to the interview...

RB: Confessions of Super Mom is your first published novel, and introduces us to a whole new kind of superhero. One who is human, who makes mistakes, and deals with the realities of life, including having to scrub the bathroom floors. Just how much of Birdie Lee (and her alter ego) was drawn from your own life?

MLH: She's like me only in the stage she's at in her life - children growing into adults, and not - on the surface - needing her quite so much. So she's wondering, "What's next? Who am I if I'm not The Mom?" I was in a similar place in my life when I decided to pursue writing; in her case, she really doesn't make the decision, at least not at first, to pursue something different. It's thrust upon her in the form of her newfound superpowers. But she does make the decision to embrace them fully.

I actually have to say that of all the books I've written, Birdie is the least like me. I'm not a fan of "writing what you know;" I found that only when I really let my imagination soar and take me places very different from my own little life, that that was when my fiction really took off.

RB: I see a strong similarity to Spiderman's Peter Parker, and Super Mom's Birdie Lee.

MLH: Yes, I do think that the Spiderman arc is the closest to Birdie's own. For a lot of reasons - Peter Parker was just a normal person before his accident, as Birdie Lee is before hers. I did want to write about the superhero story in a way that was familiar to readers, because this book - while containing that element - is still women's fiction. I didn't want to scare off readers of that genre by being too bold and weird with all the superhero stuff. I needed them to be able to understand it without too much trouble and so I needed to make her story similar to another well-known superhero's story. And I decided that it would be Spiderman.

RB: Diabetes plays a significant role in your story line. Specifically, the growing epidemic of Type 2 diabetes developing in children. What was it that caused you to tackle this issue in Super Mom?

MLH: Since she's Super Mom, her primary concern is always going to be children. I wanted there to be some significant social issues that she's tackling - albeit in a fictional, non-threatening way - and the growing epidemic of diabetes in this country seemed to fit in with all the other elements. (The subliminal messages in the video games, the sugary junk food). While I'm
not trying to make a statement, per se - it really is only a device for the story - I'm happy to be able to draw some attention to this problem.

RB: You introduced an oral insulin in your storyline, which is an area of on-going scientific research today. You even gave some technical details as to how such an insulin might work. How much research did you do for Super Mom on this subject?

MLH: Just what a person can do on the Internet! Actually, the oral insulin thing was a small problem. I wrote the book having done zero research, then sold it, then during the editorial phase I went back to make sure the medicine was somewhat believable. I had no idea, when writing, that there really was an oral insulin in development. During that editorial/research phase, I found out that there was, and had to scramble a bit in the story to make it
less the miraculous breakthrough that I had it originally, and more just a race to be the first to develop it.

RB: I loved all the references to superheroes we all know and love. Basically, were you already a fan of superheroes prior to Super Mom, or did you have to rely upon your children for that kind of information?

MLH: Since I'm a child of the Sixties and Seventies, I grew up watching The Wonder Twins on TV, Wonder Woman, the old Batman series...I think that really, the superhero mythology is a mythology of America, and you can't help but absorb part of it. But when things got technical, yes, I relied heavily upon my sons, my husband and my brother!

RB: As a male reader, I'll admit that those references really made your story real to me. Made Birdie really fit into the world of superheroes. I imagine that mothers are your target audience. After all, you elevate the role of being a mother to more than simply being mom to that of being a superhero itself. Yet, I can see anyone with an interest in superheroes...including men...really enjoying your book. Do you think more men are reading Super Mom than you had originally anticipated?

MLH: I really don't know. I don't think that Dutton [note from the editor: Dutton is Melanie's publisher] has positioned it as anything other than women's fiction. And certainly the authors who blurbed the book are well-known to female audiences, not male. But I have had a couple of men read it who expressed surprise - as you have - that they enjoyed it.

RB: Since you are working on a Super Mom sequel, I presume your first book is doing fairly well? Or is it still to early?

MLH: I think it's doing well!

RB: When will see Super Mom again?

MLH: In the sequel, titled SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD. I don't have a definite pub date yet, although I believe it will be in early 2007. The paperback of CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM, though, will be out in the summer of 2006.

RB: So what comes after Super Mom? I mean, after all the sequels? Movies? A stage play, perhaps? Or a Tony-award-winning musical?

MLH: The author's always the last person to know these things! It's in the hands of people who could do something with it in those areas; whether or not that actually happens is anybody's guess.

RB: I want to know...and perhaps you can spill the beans...will Super Mom ever learn to fly?

MLB: That will be answered in the sequel, so you'll just have to wait!

RB: I know in my own writing, that the support of others has been key to my ability to write. Who has been your source of inspiration?

MLH: Two people. My husband, whose belief in me is almost exhausting. He has such a positive outlook toward life in general, which spills over into my career, and it's kept me going when I think, honestly, I might have thrown in the towel if I hadn't had him in my life. And my agent, who always believed in my writing - not just a particular manuscript of mine. Which is
key. We had a book together that didn't sell, prior to CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM. But she didn't just believe in that book, but in my writing in general, and kept telling me that I would be published. Some agents, I think, tend to take a book-by-book view of an author's career. My agent didn't; she believes in me, and my writing - kind of the whole package, you know?

RB: Thanks, Melanie. I look forward to seeing more from Melanie Lynne Hauser in the future.

MLH: Thank you so much, Ryan!

So, get out there and buy Melanie's book, people! Or else...or else...well, I can't threaten with much of anything on a blog. So just do it!

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