Our interview today is with Denise Malloy author of A Real Mother: Stumbling Through Motherhood (4.5 stars, 26 reviews). Before the interview a brief book description: Columnist, Denise Malloy, is A Real Mother. It took her three months to figure out she was pregnant and not suffering from chronic food poisoning. She’s been parentally challenged ever since.
For the last six years, Malloy has been amusing readers with tales of motherhood, relationships and mid-life. She waxes profound, and occasionally profane, on issues that touch every Real Mother’s life – from diapers to dating. Malloy recounts her wild ride through the Stream of Consciousness Zone of Parenting to getting caught by her teens and, quite possibly, Scarring Them for Life. Denise Malloy inhabits a world that most parents will recognize, but few have described quite so honestly, or hilariously.
Author Interview with Denise Malloy
Tell us a bit about how you got started writing. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I believe Flannery O’Conner’s theory about writers – if you survive childhood, you have enough material to write the rest of your life.
When you’re on the outside looking in, writing is so shrouded in mystery. I used to think all great writers sat down at the keyboard, cracked their knuckles and just before writing pages of perfect literary copy.
Not so. All writers write crap and lots of it. You have to. It’s part of the process. You have no idea how much crap was written in the process of writing A Real Mother: stumbling through motherhood.
I would also tell them to be fearless. Don’t be afraid to ask – like when I asked if I could write a column for a local magazine. I’m proud of that set of cojones. Don’t be afraid of rejection – it won’t kill you. It will piss you off. But who cares? Go for it.
You’re a columnist too. What’s the process of writing a column like for you? Is it different from writing a book?
The way I write a column has evolved. I used to spend the hours fretting over what I was going to write about (and then fret about not having it written it already). I started keeping a list of stuff that makes me laugh or say WTF? I trust the process more now and let it flow more than trying to control it. It’s a lot more fun that way. Sometimes the process itself surprises me and the writing takes me in a direction I didn’t expect, which I absolutely love.
Writing A Real Mother was definitely different. My columns are short, 600 words, so I can knock one out quickly. But putting A Real Mother together was quite a process and time commitment. I’m glad I did it and will save a lot of time in writing the next book from all the things I learned not to do.
You write a humor column – does that ever feel like a lot of pressure?
I’m always worried about whether it’s funny or not. Especially when a column gets a big response, I worry about the next one. I guess worry a lot for someone who is supposed to be funny.
You’ve recently hit the big 5-0. Has that had any impact on your writing? What is one goal you’ve set for yourself this year?
I had to combine these two because for me, they go together. I’d say 50 is great because it’s motivating as hell. Approaching the half-century mark is monumental – it’s a reminder that time is limited. And it forces you to make an honest assessment of your goals. One of mine for as long as I can remember was to write a book. So this seemed like the year to quit making excuses and do it.
One part of 50-thang is not so amusing. When did the Andy Rooney eyebrows and a soul patch turn up on the peri-menopausal menu?
Are there some things you’ve learned about publishing a book that you didn’t know before?
That whether you do it through a traditional publisher or on your own – you basically do everything yourself anyway. In 2007, a publisher approached me about doing a Bozeman history book. I thought it would be a great learning experience and loved the chance to hang out at the museum and look through old pictures and documents. The publishers said they’d take care of all the details, marketing and advertising. While I’m proud of that book, I ended up doing a lot more than just the writing. So I guess I could chalk it up to that learning experience I was looking for.
When it was in the planning stages, I shopped around for publishers for A Real Mother trying to figure it all out. After doing months of research, I decided to start my own publishing company, One Red Dog Press and go with a Print-on-Demand company. So from start to finish, every aspect of A Real Mother was a true do-it-yourself project. I learned everything from formatting and cover design to marketing and advertising.
I also learned if I had to sell stuff for a living, I’d starve to death. I really hate that part.
Writing A Real Mother was a lot like pregnancy – both lasted about 9 months and made me crazy in the process. It’s all you think about and talk about. It makes you stress eat a lot. And when you finally show it to the world, you hope the world loves it as much as you do. Which is why I nearly had a stroke when I saw the first shipment of my new baby – the baby on the cover of A Real Mother looked like Gorbachev with big purple splotches all over it – all 500 copies. Once I regained consciousness, customer service took care of it.
A Real Mother is about life with your boys, your husband and your family. Have they ever been mad at you about something you’ve written?
First of all, I’m a firm believer in the motto: if you can’t make fun of yourself, don’t even think of making fun of anyone else. So a lot of what I write is actually making fun of myself and my ineptness at motherhood. If I write about someone, I always give them the chance to read it before it goes to press in my column. I also let them A Real Mother before it was released. My kids have never objected to a column (they are called Older Boy and Younger Boy in it). They often roll their eyes but they’ve never said don’t run it. My husband (who is called The Husband in my column) also has never objected but he insists I’m a fiction writer when it’s about him). However, my friends have developed the habit of prefacing our conversations with “You’re not going to write about this, are you?”
Who is the audience for A Real Mother?
Anyone who is currently in the trenches of motherhood and made it out alive will relate to it. Grandmothers love it, probably because they survived. People tell me it’s a great baby shower gift. I think it’s going to be a big hit with all the new moms-to-be from the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy – they say there will be lots of Greybies born next spring because it made women a little frisky. But now instead of being tied up, they’ll be tied down with their new young ‘uns and I suspect they’ll need some funny reading material.
What’s your desk look like?
I wish I had a desk. I write at the kitchen table. But that’s okay, it’s close to the fridge.
What are you working on?
They say write what you know and I’m now officially middle-aged. So I’m working on the next in the Real Mother series: A Real Mother: the mid-life smackdown.
Amazon link: A Real Mother: Stumbling Through Motherhood
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Denise-Glaser-Malloy/e/B001JCI5TQ
ForeWord Clarion review: https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/a-real-mother/
Author website/blog: http://denisemalloy.com/