THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA Launch Week – Deb Joanne’s Q&A with Molly

Guess what? It’s time for our third 2012 Deb Launch Week Extravaganza to celebrate THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA! You’re excited, right? SO ARE WE! In case you weren’t around for Erika’s and Rachel’s launch weeks, we like to mix things up and ask our Deb sisters questions about their books.

So here’s the question I posed to Deb Molly:

As a writer, one of the things I loved most about your book was how Paige found a true mentor in Mr. Tremont—he helped her change her world view and see that the world around her is a much bigger place than just her hometown and the people in it. Even her trip to France didn’t open her eyes up to the world the way he did. Being that you now teach writing and this was a big part of your book, I wondered if you had a strong mentor when you were in high school (or beyond) who helped shape you into the writer you are now, and if so, was your experience as life-changing and eye-opening as Paige’s? 

And Molly’s answer:

Thanks, Joanne! A reviewer (who just happened to be a former student) described the book as a love letter to writing, and I think it’s an apt description!

I had a number of great teachers in high school: Ms. Farrington, who let us meet in her classroom on Fridays after school to write poetry and drink coffee; Mrs. McConnell, who handed me books like Ethan Frome in addition to the regular English curriculum; Ms. Sanyer (the orchestra teacher), who agreed to be our faculty advisor when we wanted to start a literary journal, and Ms. Gregory, who introduced me to writers like Tillie Olsen, Gail Godwin, T.C. Boyle, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Flannery O’Conner, and James Joyce, who helped me fall in love with Hamlet (and always called Queen Gertrude “Gertie”), and who pushed me to take my poetry to a whole new level.

But Mr. Tremont was more directly influenced by writing teachers I had in college: Dan Beachy-Quick, who was still a graduate student at the Iowa Writers Workshop when he taught our poetry class; James Alan McPherson, who brought such a generous reading to each shitty college story we brought in, who first taught me what it really means to be a friend of the manuscript; and my fiction teacher Mark Baechtel, whose lessons I not only use in my writing but also my classroom — I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said something in one of my classes and mentally thanked Mark for the phrase.

And of course, being a fictional character and all, Mr. Tremont is a lot of me, as are all the characters in the book. Specifically, though, as a former middle school teacher & current writing teacher, I would say that at least half the things Mr. Tremont says are things I say all the time in the classroom. Mr. Tremont is definitely a pastiche of a number of great teachers, plus my good friend and fellow English teacher Cam (for whom Mr. Tremont is named), plus quite a bit of Molly.

Thanks, Molly! I do think that calling THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA a love letter to writing is apt as well–so much of it spoke to me as a writer and took me back to my early days of insecurity and just learning the very basics.

And now, to celebrate the week of your launch, my mom has baked you a celebratory kugel! Enjoy (and enjoy your launch – I hope you have the launch week of your dreams).



13 Replies to “THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA Launch Week – Deb Joanne’s Q&A with Molly”

  1. Oh my gosh! What a kick-off! This is sure to be a glorious week! I love this question, Joanne–and I loved THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA too (as my Q & A will reveal tomorrow!).

    My only question today is: Where’s my launch kugel from Deb Mom Marcia!! 😉

  2. Congrats to Deb Molly this week, I need J to download the book for me so I can enjoy also.

    Oh Erika, you made my day (Deb Mom Marcia, love it thanks so much) your kugel is awaiting you anytime your ready (one call and it is yours). I think we need an eat fest and Deb Mom Marcia will cook and all of you will eat, sounds good to me).

    J it is almost your turn (not to excited are we Marcia). Have a great week, and again Deb Molly all the best to you.

    See you all next week.

      1. This is adorable — I love that Joanne’s helping her mom download my book! I had to show my mom how to use punctuation in text messages, so this feels familiar. 🙂

        Thanks for the kugel, Marcia!

  3. Congrats, Molly! Hope you’re enjoying the heck out of your launch!

    Mr. Tremont was one of my favorite parts of THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA. I wish everyone could have a teacher like him.

    Joanne, tell you mom that kugel looks yummy!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I also wish everyone could have a Mr. Tremont. I was lucky to have about 20. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great question, Joanne!

    And don’t forget, everyone — we’ll be giving away a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter this week….!

  5. Honestly…wedding planning. I have an affinity for throwing yearly theme parties and this just seems like the biggest theme party of them all! I also, oddly, have found it to be a good stress reliever from launching/writing a book. Whenever I feel stuck or frustrated by those, I find myself looking at shoes, or veils, or music selections. I think it’s because this is one event I have control over and I can focus those neurotic energies on that rather than try to fathom the unpredictable world of book sales and marketing.

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