October 17, 2017

Book & Author Spotlight: SQUALOR, NEW MEXICO by Lisette Brodey

It’s my pleasure to introduce my blog readers to a wonderful author, Ms. Lisette Brodey. Lisette and I connected on Twitter and quickly realized we share a love of reading, writing, and supporting fellow authors. First I’d like you to get to know her better through a brief Q&A session. Then I’d love for you to read the excerpt from one of her popular novels called Squalor, New Mexico. You’ll find lots to love about this amazing writer!

Please read on and and show some comment love…

About the Author:

Lisette Brodey is originally from Philadelphia and moved to New York after high school. It’s a really long story, but she is now residing in Los Angeles. She’s published three novels, Crooked Moon, Squalor, New Mexico, and Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! Her fourth novel, in the YA paranormal genre, is due out this summer.

Now tell us something about you that your bio doesn’t include. Feel free to make us laugh!

As a lifelong writer, you’d think I’d be a member of a writer’s group or two. But I like to be different, so I’m a member of SAG-AFTRA. I lurk in the background of TV shows and movies once in a while. Oh, and I really despise beets.

Tell us about some of the unique elements in your book. What inspired you to write them?

I don’t know that my style of writing is unique to the world of writing, but that said, every author’s product is uniquely theirs.

I write character-driven novels with multilayered plots. Even if there are one or two main characters, my books will always contain several characters who have their own story arcs. And I love secrets and revelations, so there are always plenty of those. I’m inspired by people and by ideas that stick in my head and stubbornly refuse to leave.

Who is (or has been) your favorite character to write and why?

That’s always a tough question. It’s hard to choose just one. In Crooked Moon, I most enjoyed writing one of the two main characters, Frankie, and her mother, Ruby. Both women were in such deep pain, but they were funny, vulnerable, and most of the time, each woman expressed herself without reservation.

With Squalor, New Mexico, a coming-of-age story that spans seven years, I really loved writing the main character, Darla McKendrick, who doggedly pursues the truth about her mysterious aunt Rebecca while growing into her teen years. This book was special to me because Darla grew up before computers and cell phones were a part of our world, so her sleuthing and her mystery solving were done without the aid of technology.

With Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!, Molly and her coworker Randy were just a delight to write. I had so much fun with them both.

In my YA paranormal (title yet to be released), there is a young teenage boy who really makes me laugh. He’s out there somewhere, and I’ve just channeled him.

What is something you think people should know about your book before they start reading?

I spent a lot of time writing and editing whatever book you are reading. To answer a FAQ, none of the characters are me, but there are certainly bits and pieces of me in many of them. I cannot write any story without humor in it. As you read this book, I’m somewhere working hard on the next one.

When you have time to read, who are some of the authors whose books you have to have on-hand?

My reading time is limited, so when I do find time, I’m almost always reading books by indie author friends who have supported me. I don’t like to name them only because there are far too many, and I would hate to leave anyone off the list.

If I had a lot of reading time, I’d like to read many books by classic authors, especially Charles Dickens, Sinclair Lewis, and Wilkie Collins.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received regarding your writing/books?

I appreciate all of the many kind words that have been said, but here is part of a review of Crooked Moon by author Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick that truly honored me:

Crooked Moon remains intimate, by showing us people who want to cry—and we want to cry with them—because sometimes a weary heart cannot help it. Ms. Brodey’s wonderful story remains intimate, by giving us such very small joys, which nonetheless make us rejoice when we find them. From such writing we celebrate characters for our lifetime, characters like Willy Loman, Tom Joad, Martha Hill, and Melanie Hamilton. Crooked Moon’s Frankie Cavalese—Mary Frances to her brother—is one such unforgettable character. She breaks our hearts as she succumbs to the weariness in her soul. Lisette Brodey lets us put our arms around this character, to embrace her and help her find strength again.

Okay…quick response time. What is your fave:

Food? – Thin crust pizza

Guilty pleasure? – Going to the movies every weekend

TV show? – Scandal

Beverage? – A fine cognac accompanied by some dark chocolate

Place to be? – Anywhere I can be with the people I love. And if those people are in cool, exotic places—all the better!

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?

There are a lot of wonderful books out there to read, and I appreciate each and every reader who chooses to read one of mine. I hope you enjoy my novels and the characters. Thank you very much.

Where can we stalk find you?

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website for Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page

EXCERPT FROM Squalor, New Mexico

(To see the first part of this excerpt, visit my post on The Writer’s Voice)

Today, with my youth far behind me, I realize that my childhood perceptions, though surprisingly accurate at times, were also severely hampered by my limited time on earth. Observing my father’s quintessentially dad-like behavior back then (because of the profound effect it had on me), I assumed that God had repeatedly pressed his dad mold into a giant slab of dough, thus creating an abundance of men just like my father and dispersing them at random throughout the world. Like a baker who has baked too many cookies, God had made too many dads just like mine. They were everywhere: my friends had them for fathers, they appeared on television sitcoms, and they modeled men’s clothing in Spiegel catalogs.

My father was a complex man who hid behind a stereotype well into his forties. And even after that, he never really let go of it. For a long time, I was too young to understand the pain that he carried in his baggage. Deathly afraid of confronting his past, he clung tightly to society’s perceived notions of fatherhood and husbandhood, obfuscating reality as if doing so would somehow ensure an error-free existence. He seemed content to exclude spontaneity and risk-taking from his life, thereby eliminating a great deal of the reward that can come from living each day like a new adventure. Don’t misunderstand me: our home was not without mirth or joy, but most of it was like prescribed medicine, safe if taken in controlled doses. And sadly, my father’s fears and regrets were echoed by my mother, only she had the added burden of trying to keep all of our lives free of malice and discontent: as if anyone, no matter how smart or skilled, could really accomplish that.

A real dilemma for Mom was when someone unwittingly asked her a question (especially when Dad was around) that required her to take a stand. No matter how Mom chose to handle the situation, her answers were always very calculated and clichéd, leaving little room for spontaneity or originality. Often afraid of expressing herself, or of discussing matters with me that Dad might not approve of, Mom would preface her remarks with “Between you, me, and the lamppost, Darla,” a temporary absolution that would then allow her to proceed with whatever “secret” was on her mind.

Aunt Didi, on the other hand, didn’t mind being outspoken or controversial at all, but like Mom and Dad, she didn’t reveal a lot about herself or the family.

One night, a few weeks after that day when I had heard Mom and Aunt Didi discussing Aunt Rebecca, my curiosity got the better of me, as it often did. It was a Saturday night, and Aunt Didi and Uncle George had come over for dinner with their three girls. Aunt Didi was in the kitchen helping Mom prepare dinner, and I sat in the living room with Dad, Uncle George, and my cousins. Suddenly, I just had to know, so I said to my father, “How far are we from Squalor, Dad?”

“Just a hop, skip, and a jump if we’re not careful, Darla.” He laughed. “What kind of thing is that to ask?”

“No really, Dad,” I pressed. “How far are we from Squalor?”

“I really don’t understand your question, sweetie,” he replied in all sincerity.

I was getting frustrated. My voice got louder. “Come on, Dad. How far are we from Squalor? You know, where Aunt Rebecca lives?”

Dad and Uncle George turned quickly to look at each other. And as she seemed to do on so many occasions, Aunt Didi burst forth from the darkness, a virtual Johnny-on-the-trouble spot, to diffuse an unpleasant situation before it got out of control.

“I’ve explained this to you before, Darla,” Aunt Didi said, wiping her hands on her apron. “Squalor is in New Mexico and that’s very far away from here.”

“Is that why Aunt Rebecca never visits?” I asked. “And how come we never visit her?”

“She lives very far away,” she repeated, looking angry and uncomfortable. “Why don’t you just forget about Rebecca?”

“But why?” I persisted. “And how come we never talk to her on the phone?”

“Darla,” she said impatiently, “there are far more important things for you to concern yourself with than Rebecca.”

“Like what?”

Aunt Didi looked despairingly at my father.

“Like…the tickle monster!” Dad shouted as he lurched toward me with his rapidly moving fingers. “The tickle monster is going to get you…and your cousins, too!”

The four of us reacted appropriately and ran screaming out of the room. Dad’s quick thinking was an effective, albeit temporary, solution to the problem. But I’ve always been persistent when I want to know something. An hour later at the dinner table, I had not forgotten my original curiosity.

“I don’t understand why Aunt Rebecca can’t come visit us,” I blurted out.

Uncle George, who had been quiet on the matter up to this point, looked extremely agitated. He was a far less patient man than my father, and when the going got tough for Uncle George, the tickle monster never came to save the day.

“Darla, listen to me,” Uncle George barked. “We don’t see your aunt Rebecca because, well, as your aunt Didi says, she lives in Squalor, and knowing Rebecca, you can be damn sure there’s no way she’ll ever get out. That’s it now!”

“She could screw her way out!” I said helpfully.

My cousins giggled and covered their mouths.

“Jesus! What’s going on here, Maggs?” Dad asked my mother.

“What the hell did you tell this kid?” Uncle George asked Aunt Didi.

“Darla, a lady doesn’t use those words,” Dad admonished me.

“But Aunt Didi—”

“I knew it,” Uncle George said, nervously rattling the ice cubes in his glass.

Aunt Didi remained uncharacteristically quiet.

“Jesus, Maggs,” Dad said again.

“Won’t everybody please calm down?” Mom asked sweetly.

Aunt Didi rolled her eyes and stuck her chin in the palm of her hand.

“Darla,” Mom began, “we all feel very bad that Aunt Rebecca lives so far away—in New Mexico—and it’s very upsetting to talk about it, for many reasons. So please, dear, let’s forget about it until—”

“Until I’m older?”

“Well, yes,” she said, breathing a little easier. “Until you’re older.”

“Much older,” Uncle George mumbled under his breath.

“Okay,” I said. “Could you pass the butter, Dad?”

Comments

  1. Each time I have the pleasure of reading anything by or about Lisette Brodey I feel as if I have had a new ands glorious piece of her soul shown to me.

    I love her books.

  2. Simon Hay says:

    Hi Raine :)

    Lisette., wonderful to learn more about you. I was already a fan :)

  3. I cannot wait to read Squalor!

  4. PA says:

    I so enjoyed this! Thank you for interviewing Ms. Brodey! I’ve learned so much more about her, and gained an even deeper understanding/insight of her excellent novels. I’ve read all three of them, and have thoroughly enjoyed each one! Can’t wait for the next one!

    While reading each novel, I felt like I was right there with all of the characters, completely absorbed in them all!!

    I highly recommend reading ALL of Ms. Brodey’s books. But the most recent one I read was SQUALOR, NEW MEXICO. I was hooked immediately, and each day couldn’t wait to get home to read more!! The only part I didn’t like was that it came to an end. But then I got to re-read it!! So it all works out!!

    Thank you for this awesome interview. Looking forward to more novels from Ms. Brodey soon!!

  5. Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters. Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Molly and why?