Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Take Him, Why Dontcha?

I know a teacher who was jilted at the altar. It scarred him permanently. He spent the rest of his life torturing his students and making them cry -- a living example of Melody Beattie's adage, Hurt People Hurt People. I could definitely imagine my former teacher committing crimes due to what happened to him.

Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat wondering if you would experience the same fate? Well, that's just what a fascinating new comic novel explores. Today I have the privilege of hosting the lovely Valerie Frankel, author of the previous hit Hex and the Single Girl, and the brand new novel I Take This Man. Welcome, Valerie!


Valerie Frankel has finally created a website for herself. She certainly took her time about it, but now proudly displays her thoughts, reviews and pictures at Besides writing and getting good use out of her new digital camera, Frankel plays Snood, stares at the wall, goes running and prepares healthy yet satisfying meals for the whole family. She has eight novels to her credit (including Smart vs. Pretty, The Accidental Virgin, and The Not-So-Perfect Man), and four non-fiction books, including 2004's co-authored sex guide, The Best You'll Ever Have: What Every Woman Should Know for Getting and Giving Knock-Your-Socks-Off Sex. Her magazine articles appear in O, Parenting, Self, Glamour, Allure and the New York Times, among others. She continues to live in Brooklyn with her two daughters and two cats, and was recently married to devilishly handsome opera singer Stephen Quint.


Here comes the bride . . . there goes the groom.

Penny Bracket waited two years to marry dream man Bram Shiraz. Then on the morning of the Big Day, while she's trying on her veil, Penny receives the worst two-line letter of her life: "Penny, I can't go through with it. Sorry, Bram."

Penny's hurt and upset. But Esther, Penny's divorced mom, wants Bram's head on a platter. So Mom ambushes the cold-footed coward before he hot-foots it out of town, bonks him on the head with a champagne bottle, and spirits him away to a hidden room in her gargantuan mansion in Short Hares, New Jersey. Esther doesn't want much. All Bram has to do is write personal, heartfelt apologies to each of the two hundred disappointed wedding guests . . . and eat every mouthful of the very expensive gourmet wedding feast that has gone to waste. Then he'll be free to leave.

Penny doesn't want Bram tortured. She just wants answers to "why" . . . and maybe a little revenge. Will she discover her runaway groom is locked away in the attic? Will Bram's widowed father—handsome tough-guy Keith Shiraz—be able to locate his missing son . . . and maybe seduce Esther Bracket in the bargain? Will Bram be able to maintain his athletic figure after consuming two hundred entrées and thousands of baby quiches? Read on!

"Quite simply, Frankel makes reading a blast. No premise is too outlandish and no character is without a set a flaws. The plot is cleverly kooky and not one many authors could realistically pull off. Frankel has an endless bag of tricks that seems to get deeper—and more hilarious—with every novel."—Lauren Spielberg, Romantic Times

"I TAKE THIS MAN is an entertaining portrait of relationship hang-ups, vengeance and one missing groom. Valerie Frankel scores again with a humorous story that had me laughing until my sides hurt. Penny and Bram are a misguided couple that need help in finding their true feelings for one another. Keith and Ester search together to find Bram, even when Ester knows where Bram is hidden. The skewed relationships of all the main characters, Penny, Bram, Ester and Keith are so immensely appealing in depth and characterization. I absolutely adored the antics in this story. Frankel wonderfully explores family relationships with incredible insight, humor, and compassion. Readers will find this a zinger of a story that is a pleasure to read."—Romance Junkies


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

The basic idea for I Take This Man was cranked out on a typical day in the life of a working mother. My daughter came home from school, and announced that some little girl in her first grade class made her cry. A flash of anger flooded my brain. After a minute or two, I calmed myself down. Lucy and I discussed what had happened, and worked out an appropriate response. But that flash of maternal rage got my meat grinder going. Any intense emotion is a kick-start. It made me wonder: What offense against one of my daughters would actually move me to lash out with violence against another human being? I fixated on the question, lay awake in bed, wondering what indeed would make an otherwise controlled, rational woman thirsty for blood? I imagined being the mother of a jilted bride who, in a fit of vengeance, attacks the runaway groom. From there, I asked more questions: "Why did the groom cancel the wedding?" "What did the mother do with the groom after she bashed him?" "How would the bride find out what happened?" Five hours later, at three o'clock in the morning, I had the framework of a plot.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep moving forward. If you spend too much time backtracking and editing as you go, you might get lost in the middle, and never get to the end. I try to write a first draft, start to finish, and then devote as much energy and time to editing it later.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

I drop off my kids at school at 8:30, go to the gym, come home, eat breakfast, shower, write until pick up at 3. Very exciting, right? It's a very boring existence, but I couldn't do anything else. I write fiction as well as magazine articles. So, for me, organization is crucial to prioritize my workload. I divide time by the week. One whole week will be devoted to reporting and writing an article. The next week will be to tie loose ends and edit it before sending to my editor at the magazine. Then, I'll switch back to a novel, write that until revisions come in for something else.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?
The most exciting is having books out! Seeing your work on the shelf, or on the front table. Getting reviewed is fun (if the reviews are positive). I love it when someone tells me they saw one of my books in at far-flung airport, or on the hotel borrowing bookshelf at a hotel in Costa Rica. The most frustrating is feeling like a book doesn't reach the target audience despite the hard work or publicists and marketers at your publishing house.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
I Take This Man is a stand alone. I'm working on the third book in the Fringe Girl series for teens, as well as a memoir about body image. Also, I'm doing a lot of stuff for magazines, too.

Three questions of my own choosing below.
1. Would you prefer to lose ten pounds, or suddenly come into $10,000?
I'll take the money. If it were $5,000, I might take the weight loss.

2. How do you show your kids a good time over spring break?
Well, right now, while I work, the kids are doing the laundry. That's a rocking good time for them, I'm sure.

3. Obama or Clinton?
At this, I'm rooting for Hillary to make history, and to make me proud. Fingers crossed.

Thank you so much, Valerie! Valerie's book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the mostest bestest place, your local indie bookseller.