It is my distinct pleasure to interview fellow Deb Amy Poeppel for this week’s post. I was lucky to be able to meet Amy early on in our journey for the Debutante Ball. We instantly clicked over dinner and cocktails, talking about everything under the sun–our books, the publishing process, our families and so much more. I walked out of the restaurant that night thinking that she is someone that I want to know for a very long time. She is funny, self-deprecating in all the right ways, clever, and as we Bostonians would say, “wicked smaht.” I knew all this about her before I began reading SMALL ADMISSIONS so when I saw so much of that same wit on the page it was no surprise. I adored her novel and will think about those characters for a long while to come.
For a small sample, check out the video trailer!
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) December 31, 2016
Or you can also share the post on Facebook. We will select and contact the very lucky winner on Friday, January 6th at noon (US Only).
When ambitious grad student Kate Pearson’s handsome French “almost fiancé” ditches her, she definitely does not roll with the punches, despite the best efforts of family and friends. It seems that nothing will get Kate out of pajamas and back into the world.
Miraculously, one cringe-worthy job interview leads to a position in the admissions department at the revered Hudson Day School. Kate’s instantly thrown into a highly competitive and occasionally absurd culture, where she interviews all types of children: suitable, wildly unsuitable, charming, loathsome, ingratiating, or spoiled beyond all measure. And then there are the Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.
As Kate begins to learn there’s no room for self-pity or nonsense during the height of admissions season or life itself, her sister and friends find themselves keeping secrets, dropping bombshells, and arguing with each other about how to keep Kate on her feet. Meanwhile, Kate seems to be doing very nicely, thank you, and is even beginning to find out that her broken heart is very much on the mend. Welcome to the world of SMALL ADMISSIONS.
What is the strangest job you’ve ever had?
One summer, my sister and I were asked to be the judges of a sailing race series on a lake in Vermont. A regatta, I suppose it’s called. I didn’t (and still don’t) know anything about sailing or boats or races of any kind, but my sister and I figured, How hard can it be? As it turned out it’s very hard, and we made no friends on our first (and what turned out to be our last) day on the job. The boats all came in at basically, pretty much-ish the same time and, frankly, we weren’t really paying all that much attention anyway because we were literally lying down on the job to sunbathe on the float they’d stuck us on in the middle of the lake. A loud flurry of sails went past us in a rush, and we sat up and looked looked at each other. And then we assigned winners and losers based on our feelings about the order that the boats might have come in had we been watching, which we hadn’t. We just guessed. We guessed wrong, and the sailers all started yelling at us. They had to cancel the results due to our incompetence. I sincerely apologize. (That was over thirty years ago, just fyi.)
My most challenging job was being a check-out person at a small grocery store in Maine. I wasn’t very good at that either. This was the pre-barcode/scanner era, and many of the items had no price stickers on them at all. So I would simply look at the item and make what I felt was a fair and educated guestimate of how much one thing or another ought to cost. I would ask myself, What would these eggs be worth to me? I got political when the mood struck: 20 cents for a large box of tampons seemed about right. $8.00 for Cheez Whiz because it’s not even cheese. I got fired.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
- Hire someone, specifically a professional editor, to be unbelievably hard on you. That is hands-down, the best thing I ever did and the best advice I have. I don’t mean your friend the English major or a family member who thinks you have potential. I mean a stranger who does this for a living, comes recommended by someone who is published, and does not care about you personally, meaning he/she doesn’t mind hurting your feelings. Pay this person real money to read your work and tear it apart.
- When the notes/comments come back, get angry and very deeply insulted. Sulk about it, if you like. Under the covers is a good place to do this. Crying is optional. Get good and mad at being so thoroughly misunderstood.
- Wallow in your resentment for a few days. This editor doesn’t understand you or your writing or “where you’re coming from.”
- Now, get the fuck up. Take a walk. Realize that the mean editor has a point. Has several, in fact. Realize that the mean editor is totally right about, like, half of what he/she said.
- Get over yourself: He/she was right about all of it, and you know it. Take a deep breath while that sinks in.
- Sit down, and start a MAJOR revision.
- Edit for the next six to ten months.
That’s my advice. It’s expensive, and it hurts (sorry), but it’s what works for me.
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
Jill Kargman. It’s rather embarrassing. I was at home in writing mode (read: unwashed hair, dirty jeans, and sneakers) when I saw on Facebook that Jill Kargman, my idol, the author of SPRINKLE GLITTER ON MY GRAVE, as well as the producer of the best show ever ODD MOM OUT, was doing a book signing that would be starting in, like, twenty minutes. I ran out the door, forgetting that I looked like complete shit. I got to the reading, which happened to be at the shoe department of Saks Fifth Avenue. It was fancy. This was a champagne event with lovely ladies all dressed up, and believe me, I did not fit in. I bought two books and stood in line to wait for Jill to sign them. A man came down the row, asking us each for the name we wanted Jill to sign in our books and putting a sticky note on the title page. He got to me. He took a moment to study my messy hair and my scruffy jeans, and he asked me for proof that I had paid for the books. I was the only one he asked; I guess I looked to him like someone who’d stolen them. So I went through my bag and presented my receipt. Mortifying. But Jill, in spite of how unkempt I looked, was lovely! She is even more wonderful in person, and her book is hilarious!
This is a true story. (Note: no make-up, dirty hair, and sweater strategically tied to hide red wine stain on thigh.)
What’s your next big thing?
I am hard at work on my new novel LIMELIGHT, a book that takes a fun look at motherhood, Broadway, and pop-star fame. Stay tuned!
Quick Fire Answers:
One thing that’s making you happy right now: Avocado toast with a poached egg and chili oil.
Best perk of your job: Sweatpants, all day long.
Something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh: My dog in a costume.
A talent you wish you had: Singing and dancing. Preferably at the same time. Without hurting myself or others.
Your regular first reader: David, my smart, funny, supportive, but critical husband.
Amy Poeppel is the author of the forthcoming novel SMALL ADMISSIONS. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she graduated from Wellesley College and worked as an actress in the Boston area, appearing in a corporate industrial for Polaroid, a commercial for Brooks Pharmacy, and a truly terrible episode of America’s Most Wanted. She now lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she workshopped a theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit.