Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Interview with Mandy Behbehani
I think part of its genus was seeing myself aging and not liking it one bit! And discovering that on the march toward fifty and beyond, with their physical and sexual appeal waning, women often begin to feel invisible. And in this youth-obsessed culture they often are. As a result, women’s options often diminish a bit: no one will hire them, and their husbands often leave them for no other reason than that they are middle aged, and the husbands want someone younger and firmer. And at the very moment these women should be able to sit back, relax and enjoy life a little— their child-rearing years almost behind them— boom, everything is turned upside down and they have to play the romance game all over again, doing at fifty, what they did so much better at twenty-five. And no one warns you about this eventuality, either. They always tell you not to drink, or smoke or do drugs or tan or overeat. But they never tell you not to get old. I was just writing the novel I wanted to read, a book showing how there are a million Maddys out there struggling away, their looks fading, their choices dwindling, and yet they should take heart in the knowledge that they don’t have to write an unhappy ending. They should know that just because bad things happen, it doesn’t mean good things won’t. There are so many novels out there for young, hip women, I discovered: for Bridget Jones and her ilk, but so few for the women they become, their older, (better?!) selves.
Q. Do you have a writing ritual?
I don’t. But I do tend to write in the morning because I get up very early and by mid-afternoon I’m usually beat. I wish I could write every day but I can’t, and my efforts at writing a certain number of words or pages a day were sadly unsuccessful! If I connect with what I am writing, I can write. But if I don’t, I can’t. And there’s the rub.
Q. Would you say that you and Maddy Nelson is alike or completely different?
I would say Maddy and I are very alike except she’s a much better cook than I am.
Q. Is writing something you've always wanted to pursue?
There was never a deeply rooted desire in me to write. Growing up, all I wanted to do was read. That’s it. That’s all I wanted to do; besides finding myself a boyfriend, of course. Sometimes, however, on the path of life, you are sent in a certain direction. I had my first short story published when I was 12 and it never occurred to me I was a good writer. After journalism school and many years on a daily newspaper, it suddenly occurred to me that writing is something I can do. And do well. (At least I hope so!)
Q. What is your favorite snack to munch on while writing?
I chew all the different flavors of Trident gum, which I shouldn’t because of my problem with TMJ, and then sometimes I will have walnuts. But mostly I don’t eat when I write. I have to save all my focus and energy for that blank screen.
Q. What book(s) are you currently reading?
I love history so right now I am reading a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln. Before that I read about ten books about the assassination of President Lincoln and the hunt for and trial of the conspirators, all of them fascinating. I tend to read literary novels, the classic ones, mostly, though I love some of the modern writers.
Q. What is the hardest lesson you've had to learn as a writer?
That I might not get where I want to go.
Q. What are your writing goals for 2013?
To write another novel.
Q. What can your fans expect next?
I’m not sure. I have lots of ideas but I can’t fasten on any one of them!
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I’m afraid I don’t have any. Before epublishing, I would have said be patient, stay the course, keep writing, and that advice might have landed the writer somewhere. But today, it’s all one big crapshoot. I would say, however, that writers write, so if you think you’re a writer, write.