I’m Not Marta

The Bellevue Barnes & Noble Launch Party on Thursday night for Odd Mom Out wasn’t just successful–with over 100 guests–we also sold out.  150 copies sold and we were short about 20.  Fortunately a shipment of 40 arrived Friday noon.  I dropped by the bookstore to sign their stock and by this morning they only had sixteen left.

Odd Mom Out is a hot ticket in Bellevue.  It’s also put me in the hot seat.  More than one woman took time to tell me that my neighbors in Yarrow Point were upset with me, or that I’d offended someone else with my portrayal of the Bellevue mom.  I heard some of this Sunday night two weeks ago at the Medina Book Club Party, too. 

When asked in an interview Thursday afternoon why I lived in a place I disliked so much I looked at the interviewer and shook my head.  “I’m not Marta.”

I chose to live here.  I like living here.  I totally take advantage of all the creature comforts I write about in Odd Mom Out and again in May 2008’s Alpha Mom.   The schools are tremendous.  The libraries state of the art.  The public parks plentiful and gorgeous.  The shopping outstanding.  Hair salons plentiful.  Starbucks and nail salons on every corner.  Trust me,  I’m a happy camper.

But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a little bit unreal.  Remember, I grew up in California’s Central Valley.  Our biggest claim to fame was being America’s Bread Basket.  Bellevue is no bread basket.  It’s more like Barbie’s Dream Castle—pretty and manicured and sparkly and expensive.  Heck, even Neiman Marcus is opening a huge store in downtown Bellevue in 2009. 

I don’t mind controversy over the book.  Not every reader is going to adore prickly, fierce, passionate Marta’s approach to life.  But what a shame if I only wrote one kind of heroine, and our society approved one kind of woman. 

My neighbors don’t need to be upset or offended.  It’s a fictional novel.  I made up the characters and created interesting conflicts to intrigue women all over the world.   

During the interview in my living room Thursday the reporter asked me if I had a motorcyle.  I shook my head.  He asked if I wanted one.  I shook my head.  He asked if I wore combat boots.  No.  Camo pants?  No.  Do I have local friends?  Yes. 

“I just can’t believe you’re not Marta,” he repeated.  “You made the character so believable.  She seemed so real.  I was sure she was you.”

I thanked him.  I mean, he was paying me quite a compliment.  Marta should feel real.  She’s out of my imagination but she does live in my world.  She’s as close to me as Jackie and Kai, Holly, and Taylor who gets her own book in May.

My characters need to live and breathe in the story.  I’m a writer.  My job is to write well.

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