Like Look Again, Save Me is an emotional thriller that examines motherhood and the relationship between mother and child. Why did you return to this theme, and is this a new direction for you?
Although I love being a writer, my most important and cherished role in this life is being a mother. It always came naturally to me, even though it wasnt always easy, especially in the early days, when I was a broke, single mother. (Im still single but not broke.) Still, I felt I was born to be a mother, and my daughter, Francesca Serritella, and I are best friends and, now, writing partners in our nonfiction books! Being a mother is all about love, and Im a love monster. Bottom line, if I meet you, Im hugging you, case closed. Come to a signing and see.
And now that Im an empty nester, Ive had a lot of time to think about what it means to be a mother. Ive learned that motherhood has no expiration date. You never stop being a mother, and youll do everything you can for your child. Im fascinated by the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her child, and thats something I really wanted to explore. And also to turn that on its head and see where sometimes protection can hinder, or even smother. I dont think its all that new for me because relationships have always been the keystone of all my books, and Ive written about motherhood before, in Look Again and in Final Appeal, which won the Edgar Award for excellence in suspense writing. The most special relationship in life is that between a mother and her child, so its something I plan on continuing to write about, in books to come. .
What sparked the idea for Save Me?
Everyone asks, Where do you get your ideas? And you know what? I LOVE that question! Its one of the few I always have an answer to. Yay! The idea for this book came from a conversation I was having with my best friend, Laura. Shes a mom of two sons and somehow we got to talking about if she had one car seat and she had to pick up a friends child, which child would get the car seat her own child or her friends? We yapped about that on the phone for an hour. It was something we really had to think about and would struggle with. And I knew I had my next novel. My goal always is to write an entertaining book, but I love the idea of creating a realistic story that will spark conversation, and make people think about what they would do in a given situation. Having a child is such an extraordinary responsibility, and it made me think about what would happen if you were forced, maybe in an emergency, to choose between saving your own child or someone elses.
In Save Me, Rose was faced with making an instant decision of whether to save her daughter or her daughters bully, in a life-threatening situation. It could change her life forever, just like many situations we could face in our own lives. We really never know where life will lead us, do we? You tackle the hot-button issue of bullying from a very different angle in Save Me. Why was that important to you?
Many of us have been bullied as children, me included. I was called rat since there werent many Italian Americans kids in my neighborhood, and the other kids at school teased me that Italians lived in sewers, like rats. Not funny.
The columns have given voice to women everywhere, and have been collected in Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog; My Nest Isnt Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space; and Best Friends, Occasional Enemies.
All of your books have women as the star or main protagonists, even your nonfiction column books. Why is that?
When I first started writing, I noticed that in popular books and movies, women didnt get to be the star of the book. We were always the expendable girlfriend or sidekick.
And I missed Nancy Drew!
I wanted my books to feature ordinary, extraordinary women, like those in my life, such as my mother, daughter, and friends, and let them be the main protagonists. And a few years ago, I noticed that there werent enough female voices in the newspapers, and I began writing Chick Wit with my daughter, Francesca. Its a funny, witty look at life as a woman in todays society.
And I missed Erma Bombeck!
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
My favorite part of being a writer is connecting with people. While this may sound ironic, as writing is such a solitary profession, I see it completely differently. Books connect us, heart to heart, and thats why theyre so important. I always say that a book isnt completed until its read, and thats because a book means something different to each reader, depending on who they are and what theyve experienced. So, in effect, we write each book together, author and reader!
Nothing is more rewarding to me than getting out from behind the desk, and meeting, talking with, and hugging readers. I write for them, and they definitely help inform my writing. And I love feeling that I am tied to all of them, and everyone is tied one to the other. Thats what being fully human is all about, and my heart is full, with gratitude, to all of my readers, every day.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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