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Interview with Family Plots Author Mary Patrick Kavanaugh

Mary Patrick KavanaughMary Patrick Kavanaugh recently launched her first novel, Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion, at an outrageous public funeral event. A writer since the age of eight, Mary’s award winning creative non-fiction has been published in Alligator Juniper, Room of One’s Own, San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her professional writing has appeared in numerous trade journals. She is the recipient of the nonfiction award from the Soul Making Literary Competition sponsored by the American Pen Women and was awarded writing fellowships at The David and Julia White Artist Colony, Hedgebrook: Women Authoring Change, and The Vermont Studio Center. She has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of San Francisco.

NOTE: Mary’s altar ego, “Cemetery Mary,” will be hosting a lively Funeral Event and Resurrection Workshop on December 31, 2009, and January 2, 2010. Participants will bury dead dreams, dashed hopes, old habits and grudges to make room for all the good that’s coming in 2010. For information about attending, please visit her blog at www.crapintocompost.com.

Watch the Book Trailer:

http://www.mydreamisdeadbutimnot.com/trailer/trailer.html

Book can be purchased at all the online booksellers, including Amazon.

Mary’s blog can be found at www.CrapIntoCompost.com

Follow her on Twitter @marypatrick

Watch her funeral, or bury your own dead dreams at www.MyDreamIsDeadButImNot.com

Family PlotsQ: Thank you for this interview, Mary. Can you tell us what your latest book, Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion, is all about?

A: My book is a work of Pulp Faction, a term I coined to best describe a fictional story based on fact. It is about a young single mother and private investigator who falls in love with a criminal attorney, who, it turns out, is committing a few crimes of his own. In an effort to find love and security, she falls into a world of pseudonyms and unexplained cash. Secrets and stashes are revealed as family members make their way to the cemetery, for a permanent place in this family plot.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A: Yes. This is my first novel.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

A: Giving birth to this creation was harder and maybe even more expensive than the one I raised and sent to college.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A: People have been wonderful, supportive, rude, fascinating, funny, and everything in between. My most unusal experience was looking up at a reading and seeing a colorful local personality who also turned out to be someone I’d based a character on. I was mortified when she bought a few copies of the book, and then invited me to speak to her writers group. She is a lively character and I knew there was no way she wouldn’t recognize herself in the story, so I raced home, went to each scene she was in, worrying what I’d written would be interpreted as mean or cartoonish. She had a great sense of humor about the matter, and even dressed up exactly like I’d described her character when I arrived to speak to her group. She turned into one of my greatest fans and supporters. I love life’s coincidences.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

A: Because I am not currently working on a book-length work, my routine is sporatic. I am writing articles and short pieces and do that in spurts. My greatest muse these days is named THE DEADLINE.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

A: When I’m into my computer addition, it can be Facebook, one of the most insidious time sucks ever invented. But as a result of a recent mid-life crisis, I’ve also recently installed a stripper pole in my workspace and while I don’t undress, I do spin around the pole a few times, working on my moves. I also like to stretch and eat chocolate.

Q: What book changed your life?

A: Catcher in the Rye and Gone With the Wind. The former because I understood that depressed wise-ass narrators could capture existential angst better than any philosopher, and the latter because I experienced complete absorption into another time and place through good old fashioned melodrama and storytelling.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

A: Turning Life’s Crap Into Compost, and I believe I’m writing that book now.

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: I love spaghetti and meatballs almost as much as life itself, but I feel terrible about the loss of life involved. This internal conflict dogs me…

Thank you for this interview, Mary. I wish you much success on your latest release, Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion.

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Book Excerpt: Family Plots by Mary Patrick Kavanaugh

Family Plots

Family Plots

Experts claim that the secret to a happy relationship isn’t sex, children, money or even love. It has much more to do with the power of self-deception—a belief that your spouse is wonderful, even when evidence starts pointing to the contrary. Of course, if you happen to learn that Mr. Wonderful is making extracurricular whoopee with a woman who is, say, thinner or more successful than you, you can’t pretend that your love life hasn’t just splattered in your face, like a bug on a windshield. But there are trickier, more elusive marriage malignancies—such as lies of omission, financial infidelity, or a dogged refusal to change anything, be it a behavior, an opinion, or even a zip code. These may be easier to ignore.

The story that follows involves marriage and money, death and deception.

There is also some messy business regarding an unresolved murder. It was the last decade of the twentieth century, when Big Brother wasn’t watching people so closely. I was a budding private investigator and young single mother in love with an attractive criminal attorney who, it turned out, was committing a few crimes of his own. Through much of our marriage, I managed to disregard my better instincts—even as I slid into a world of
pseudonyms, fake weddings, hidden bank accounts, and unexplained cash. It all made perfect sense to me at the time.

Looking back on the bizarre chain of events that changed the course of my life, I’ve concluded that there’s no blaming my husband for what happened.

He never forced me to lie or cheat or to commit ridiculous fiduciary crimes just to keep up with him. He certainly never asked me to stick my nose into the dark business of his past. Being immersed in this drama was like diving into an ice-cold lake—shocking and exciting at first, but then I became used to it. It never occurred to me that this could be dangerous—that hypothermia could lead to incoherent, irrational behavior.

But if happiness is the goal, perhaps denial is underrated. Especially so when you are trying to hang onto something you desperately desire. Though my former life is not one I would ever choose again, I’ll never regret how I let love pull me along the slippery path that eventually landed me a permanent place in this secretive family plot.

–Excerpt from Family Plots by Mary Patrick Kavanaugh.  You can visit Mary’s website at www.marypatrick.com or purchase her newest book, Family Plots, by visiting Amazon!

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