It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's~
"Like its title character, this debut novel has a secret identity...it's unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch despite the cheery veneer... at the heart of this story is a narrative about a lonely, wronged woman who just wants to do right by her children and stand up to an uncontrollable world. Hauser slips in soliloquies on motherhood and womanhood that, though brief, are moving, showing us Birdie Lee's heart and in that, the wishes and dreams of super moms everywhere. "
- Publishers Weekly
"This silly but fun twist on the superhero tale comes packaged with a socially responsible message about consumerism, but it doesn't get in the way of the high jinks."
"Looking for something TOTALLY different than all the rest of the books on the shelves? This is the perfect escape using romance, laugh out loud moments, and super powers that every woman would secretly admit to wanting!"
- Madison McGraw, ChicksDigBooks.com
"Who needs the speeding bullets, locomotives, and tall buildings - with wit, humor and some sage motherly advice, Melanie Lynne Hauser finally gives readers a true hero for our time - Super Mom."
-Jennifer O'Connell, author of DRESS REHEARSAL and BACHELORETTE #1
"Confessions of Super Mom is a delightful read. Smart, zany, and touching, it is the perfect remedy for overwhelmed mothers everywhere."
-Karen Quinn, Author of The Ivy Chronicles
"Forget the laundry, forget the dishes. Escape into the world of Super Mom for a few hours...you'll be glad you did. Melanie Lynne Hauser's quirky characters sparkle brightly as a newly Swiffered floor, and her writing shines like freshly polished glass."
-Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and Every Boy's Got One
"Never has there been a more appealingly down-to-earth heroine or a superhero with more enviable powers. Moms everywhere will wish they could be like the Super Mom of Melanie Lynne Hauser's charming, funny, and heartfelt novel. . . .and will ultimately realize they already are."
-Pamela Redmond Satran, author of Babes in Captivity
For every harried mother who dreams of cleaning with the power of 10,000 Swiffers, putting her children into Super Time Outs with just a flick of her Merciless Gaze, and employing a little Super Eavesdropping when the occasion warrants, CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM is a must-read. Filled with romance, intrigue, humor and a colorful cast of characters, this delightful new novel introduces a superhero for the Swiffer generation.
Birdie Lee is an average hard-working single mother of two teenagers, PTA lackey, and mild-mannered grocery clerk at the local Marvel Fine Foods and Beverages. One morning, while getting ready for work, Birdie is sidetracked by a stubborn Stain of Unusual Origin on her bathroom floor. Unable to let the stain get the best of her, she tries to annihilate it with every household product she can find -to no avail. Angry, hot, light-headed (and forgetting to turn on the exhaust fan), she makes one final desperate attempt to eradicate this vile, dastardly stain: she loads her Swiffer Wet Jet with every household cleanser she owns, aims, and fires..
And passes out, overcome by the fumes. After regaining consciousness (and reminding herself to scrub the bottom of the toilet since from her perspective - flat on her back - it was looking a little dingy), Birdie realizes something's amiss. Her ears begin to buzz and her senses are aquiver. Eventually, aided by Martin, her geeky thirteen-year-old son and trusty sidekick, Birdie understands that she now possesses extraordinary powers - superpowers, to be exact. Birdie soon learns, however, that, to quote Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility and she finds herself struggling to balance a new onslaught of challenges, both at home and in her community. While trying to keep her distant 15-year-old daughter's heart from being broken (something not even a superhero can do), and dealing with her smug ex-husband and his over-achieving new wife, she must manage her job, PTA responsibilities and a budding romance- all the while trying to rescue her beloved town of Astro Park from an evil force that threatens its children.
So forget those chores- pick up CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM and relish in a much-deserved escape. This charming novel will keep readers glued to the page as they cheer for Super Mom to root out injustice and surrender herself to love. Readers everywhere will find themselves in its pages and rejoice in finding a book that celebrates their overlooked everyday acts of heroism.
Former member of the PTA, Melanie Lynne Hauser is a prototypical Super Mom. CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM is her first novel, and she is a contributor, along with Jodi Picoult, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jennifer Lauck and Marion Winik, to the forthcoming anthology It's a Boy (November 2005, Seal Press). She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two teenage sons.
MO'C: Melanie, will you share a little of the backstory behind the novel... how did it come to be?
MLH: Like many books, it was born of frustration. Frustration at having two previously agented, submitted novels not sell...so I decided to just go all out, do something big, different, really whacky, because I was tired of hearing my books labeled "quiet." (As if that's a bad thing. Which I guess it is sometimes, in publishing.) So I thought - why not a novel about a superhero? I would still write about the issues that were important to me as a woman, a mother - I'd just write about them from a superhero's perspective. Which changed to - I'd write about them from a woman-who-was-just-discovering-she's-a-superhero's perspective, which was more interesting.
MO'C: How much of Birdie is Melanie?
MLH: Well, she's a superhero. And I'm not. (Or so I tell people....)
Seriously, she's less like me than any other protagonist I've written. That's what has tickled me so much about this book, because I really gave myself permission to dream big, make EVERYTHING up. There really is no character in that book who is based on someone I know in real life. However, I do think that Birdie and I share a certain contentment in raising our children, being domestic, making things run smoothly at home. And like her, I, too, had a point in my life when I could see my children were growing up and that there would be a time when they weren't in the house, and I wondered, "Well, what happens to me, then? Who am I if I'm not The Mom?" That was a catalyst for me in deciding to pursue a writing career; it's the catalyst for Birdie in embracing her superpowers, even if she received them by accident.
MO'C: Birdie has an intriguing name. Can you comment on the issue of naming characters in fiction? What's your suggestion for a name for the Tactical Tuesday mouse?
MLH: Well, I'm a huge believer in the subconscious. I honestly did not choose the name "Birdie" for any reason other than I thought it would be a funny anecdote - her mother, unlike every other young woman in the early 1960's, thought Jackie Kennedy was too snobby and liked Lady Bird Johnson instead. So that's Birdie's name - Lady Bird Lee, shortened to Birdie.
But as I wrote the book, and I decided not to give her the power of flight, even though it's the one power she really desires, I realized how HUGELY symbolic that name was. At first she's a caged bird - caged by her ex-husband's view of her, her children's demands. Then she's free, ready to fly - but she can't, not literally. Although metaphorically, yes, she does. So maybe my subconscious was telling me what to do from the beginning; I honestly did not give the name that much thought. I really don't do that as a rule. I just sit and think about what the character looks like until a name pops into my head and I use it. It's generally based on a physical idea of the character. I don't try to be too symbolic about stuff like that; I really don't think it's that important. Although obviously my subconscious was working overtime with Birdie's name!
I did, though, deliberately pay homage to comic books and superheroes with some of the names in this book. It's kind of an "in" joke.
And for your mouse, for some reason "Mousifer" comes to mind because he looks a little devilish!
MO'C: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing a new writer? How would you advise that writers address that challenge?
MLH: I don't know what the biggest challenge is. I think it's different for every writer, and it might be different in every genre. I think a new author's expectations can be very unrealistic, from the very beginning. Nobody understands how hard it is to get an agent. Then once you have an agent, nobody understands that that doesn't guarantee a sale. Then once you get a sale...well, there's the reality of what advances are, or how much publicity you might be expected to get (or do yourself), or how involved you might expect to be in the whole process...and then, too, not every book is going to be a bestseller. So understanding the realities of publishing is probably the biggest challenge. As to how to address that - well, just research the process as much as you can, be professional, and understand that every book, every author, is different. Listen to those willing to help and who have the experience to back it up - but in the end, make decisions that are right for you.
MO'C: What was the most difficult moment in the construction of the book and how did you work through it?
MLH: Strengthening the evil villain subplot. See, I was really doing something I hadn't read before - writing women's fiction with this comic book/superhero element. So I didn't know how far to go in either direction. It was tough to find the right balance. When I talked to my editor for the first time that was the main thing she wanted me to do, to work in the evil villain subplot more throughout the book, starting it earlier, right from the beginning. It wasn't hard to do once we'd brainstormed, and once I had the greenlight that it was OK to go further in this direction. But I really did need her insight for that, because I didn't know how over-the-top I could go with it. Since I hadn't read anything like it before.
MO'C: What's your super power?
MLH: I have an uncanny ability to pick the most expensive item in a store without even looking at the price tag. Super Shopping Sense, I guess!
MO'C: Did you have a particular message you wanted to convey with this book?
MLH: That raising your children, tending the home fires, is something to be proud of. That it's a source of amazing strength that can propel you into the future, leaping tall buildings in a single bound - as long as you don't look back and try to cling to the memories. You have to keep looking forward, because you never know what's going to happen next. Who knows what superpowers you might develop!
MO'C: What's next on the agenda for Melanie Lynne Hauser?
MLH: The sequel, which will be out next year. I'm really excited about it; characters we thought we knew in the first book, well, maybe we'll find out we didn't really know them that well, after all. We'll learn more about Birdie's first marriage. Her teenagers will continue to terrify and delight her (usually both in the same heartbeat). And of course, there will be an evil villain. Or two. Maybe three!
Thanks for visiting the blog, Melanie! And don't forget to visit Melanie's site, and to order her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or to pick it up at your local independent bookseller (always the best move). Melanie's own local indy is offering signed copies, so send them a note to find out how to order.