Molly Jong-Fast is Glamwire’s Author of the Month for May.
She spoke to Glamwire about her novel “The Social Climbers Handbook” released on April 26.
Stephanie: Hi Molly!!! Thank you SO much for speaking to me!
Molly Jong-Fast: Oh, of course!
Stephanie: I LOVED your new book, “The Social Climber’s Handbook.” I couldn’t put it down.
Stephanie: So, I first became familiar with your family because your mother, Erica Jong’s book, “Fear of Flying” was one of my mother’s favorite books! My older sister just reminded me of this when I was telling her about your book (She pre-ordered it on Amazon). I will always remember that book on the shelf, right next to, what is it, “Are you Ok, I am Ok” or something like that?
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah, “I’m Ok, You’re Ok!”
Stephanie: Hahahha Right!! And then there was your mother’s classic, “Fear of Flying,” And so even though I myself had a fear flying which manifested in a fear of reading “Fear of Flying,” one day, I just went for it, and I laughed through the whole book. Maybe it actually cured of me of my fear of flying!
Molly Jong-Fast: Hahahaha.
Stephanie: So anyway, I was really excited to see that you had become a writer yourself.
Molly Jong-Fast: Awwww.
Stephanie: I just really have to hand it to you because you are REALLY GOOD. I’m not a critic or anything, but let’s face it; it could have gone either way. You know what I mean?
Molly Jong-Fast: Without question.
Stephanie: Ok, so let’s talk about “Girl Maladjusted.”
Molly Jong-Fast: Okay.
Stephanie: That was a hilarious memoir. It was pretty much a bunch of essays.
Molly Jong-Fast: Yes. Essays about growing up.
Stephanie: Those stories about your grandmothers were hilarious! The first book you wrote was “Normal Girl.”
Molly Jong-Fast: Yes.
Stephanie: Can you tell our readers a little bit about that?
Molly Jong-Fast: I think that that book was very auto biographical. I was really young, and I didn’t want to go back to college, so I decided that if I wrote a book, my mom and my dad wouldn’t make me go back to college. Cuz I had dropped out of college. And I didn’t want to have to go back.
Stephanie: That is SO FUNNY! Was this Bennington?
Molly Jong-Fast: No. It was Barnard.
Stephanie: Oh wow!
Molly Jong-Fast: So I dropped out, and then that’s what happened.
Stephanie: So how did that go over with your parents?
Molly Jong-Fast: They were happy that I did it. I think they were happy that I did it, and also that I wasn’t going to totally just be a drop-out.
Stephanie: So that is how that came about. And you ACTUALLY went and wrote a VERY GOOD BOOK!
Molly Jong-Fast: Oh, well, thank you!
Stephanie: You’re welcome! I guess, thank your parents! So, I wonder what that says about the circumstances, which forced you to be able to write that first book? Do you think that you would have become a writer eventually, or do you think that the process of having had that pressure on you to produce it, to get everyone off your back, kind of made that decision for you or did you always WANT to be a writer?
Molly Jong-Fast: I think that you don’t assume that you can be a writer until you’ve seen people do it. You know?
Stephanie: Yeah! And are you referring to you mother when you say, “…seen people do it?”
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah! When you are raised with it, you see that that is something you could actually do. You see that it’s an actual career path, which you don’t see. Also it has to be something that you’re interested in, that you’re passionate about. I’m not sure that I was either at first. I just needed to do something, and since I’d seen a lot of people do this, I thought that it would be something easy to do. It turns out that it’s NOT! I absolutely could not have been more wrong. It’s really hard. I didn’t know that. You know?
Stephanie: Absolutely, and maybe that is what is needed for people to get over their writers’ blocks; you don’t think about whether you are passionate or motivated and you just write it.
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah, well that’s certainly true.
Stephanie: Well that is what you did, and guess what? You’re good! To be a writer means to actually have the talent, which you do, AND to be able to live that life and to have the discipline required to really do it. Okay, so moving on, your second book was “Girl Maladjusted.”
Molly Jong-Fast: Second books are very difficult.
Stephanie: I’ve heard that!!!
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah, because you are super self-conscious. You don’t have the confidence that goes along with having written many books. I didn’t take for grated that there would be another book, and I just felt so stifled by my first book. Also, there is a lot of pressure from publishers to publish ALL THE TIME, and I just don’t work that way. That is just not who I am so, I just don’t publish that often.
Stephanie: It’s almost like you have to practice restraint in this day and age. From my perspective it is almost a luxury to not need to publish frequently, kind of on par with how actors are able to pick and choose their roles. It was so refreshing to read “Girl Maladjusted” in relation to your first book. It was so hysterically funny! Can you tell us where you were when writing this, and how it evolved?
Molly Jong-Fast: My first book was really in some ways, a memoir, This one is very different. People didn’t really like it. I like it. It was supposed to be funny essays and I was happy to write it because it really was my dad’s idea, and it was really nice, like I felt like even though there were a lot of critical things about my family, I felt that for me, it was kind of like an homage to them.
Stephanie: I totally saw it as an homage! It was written with such love. I didn’t see it as being mean spirited at all. I absolutely loved it! I think you should re-release it. I just don’t think it got enough attention. That story about your grandfather marrying his secretary!? Too funny!
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah, that was really sad. I wish it wasn’t true…but it was
Stephanie: Well, this book seemed to pave the way for your third book, “The Social Climber’s Handbook,” which was not autobiographical.
Molly Jong-Fast: I was trying to get there…
Stephanie: It’s kind of the you exorcized all of the demons of childhood in “Normal Girl,” and then in “Girl Maladjusted” you showed a lot of growth because you were able to take the focus off of yourself and what was going on in your life, and place it onto hilarious loving descriptions and slices of others’ lives.
Molly Jong-Fast: Well I’m trying. That’s what I’m trying to do.
Stephanie: Well, Mission Accomplished!
Molly Jong-Fast: Thank you!
Stephanie: So now, I am so excited to move to your most recent novel, “The Social Climber’s Handbook” being released TODAY (April 26, 2011. Villard). So, this book is BRILLIANT! This book demonstrates, for me, that you REALLY ARE a writer. Did you feel that way?
Molly Jong-Fast: I just feel like. “I REALLY want it to sell enough copies so I can write another book! I have no pride in terms of the promotion of this book. I feel really invested in this one, and I am not too proud to say that I REALLY want people to read it and like it, so that I can write another book. I just want it to do. Well. That is ALL that I want.
Stephanie: Absolutely! I totally get that. You are saying that you want to be present and available for the marketing and promotion of this book wholeheartedly, recognizing that is a necessary evil. You are happy to do the work. You are not going to be “too cool for school” and risk the chance of no one knowing about it and buying it.
Molly Jong-Fast: Exactly.
Stephanie: This book stayed with me for a long time. Actually, I wanted to ask you, am I crazy, that I found Daisy Greenbaum to be somewhat likable???
Molly Jong-Fast: No, that’s good! That’s the goal. That’s what you want.
Our goal is for Daisy to be likable.
Stephanie: Ok, good! Because she was doing these unspeakable things, and yet, she seemed like a nice woman.
Molly Jong-Fast: Yes, it’s true.
Stephanie: I guess it was that the characters around her were all so corrupt that it almost made her seem quite sane, logical and productive. Why don’t you start by telling our readers a little bit about the plot?
Molly Jong-Fast: It’s a story of a woman whose husband works at a proprietary trading desk, and he discovers that what he does in his job is actually undermining the entire American economy. He decides to try to stop it and fix things, and instead ends up angering his boss, who in turn, goes ballistic threatens to fire him. When his wife, Daisy, finds out about this, she figures out that the only possible way to save him is to murder his boss, with whom she has had an ongoing liaison. This establishes a pattern of murdering people who threaten her family’s happiness and prosperity. It becomes her new way of solving problems.
Stephanie: As funny as the book was, and I laughed a LOT, It is also scary because it is not so far from reality at this point, with all of the crazy things going on in the world. In the newspapers today, it just seems that more and more people have lost all sense of boundaries when it comes to how they use violence to solve their problems; with the influx of news about serial killers, spouses/lovers killing each other, themselves, innocent people, etc. It’s actually a very subtle manifestation of that same climate.
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah, and also with all of the crazy stuff going on in the financial world, I really thought it was realistic.
Stephanie: The information about the fall of the economy, or this past recession is so accurate. You have an incredible grasp on the financial world and how it operates. It felt very authentic without being overbearing. I actually understand it all a lot more now! How did you manage that?
Molly Jong-Fast: Well, I am married to a man who works in finance, and I think I also just know a lot about that world. My feeling is that Daisy is doing what she feels she has to do to get by, which is what we are all doing, on some level.
Stephanie: Did you have particular people in mind, say for Dick and Daisy Greenbaums’ characters?
Molly Jong-Fast: I feel like I know so many people like them.
Stephanie: I like how it felt so current and the characters were so richly created that they felt real. It was the perfect combination of real facts and fictitious people and that you created and brought to life..
Molly Jong-Fast: Well, thank you; that’s the goal. That’s what you want to do. That’s what you want, you know?
Stephanie: I could really see this as a movie. This is a very exciting story. If you had to cast the part of Daisy, do you have anyone in mind?
Molly Jong-Fast: I would love to see this made into a movie. I think the actress I would pick for Daisy would be a lot more beautiful than what I actually had in mind.
Stephanie: Well that’s cool. So you are saying that you would cast someone more glamorous than what you were picturing while writing the book, to give it the Hollywood treatment.
Molly Jong-Fast: Exactly.
Stephanie: So, are you working on another book already?
Molly Jong-Fast: Well, I’m trying to figure out what to do. It’s in the very early stages. I have a bunch of ideas and I’m trying to figure out what to do.
Stephanie: Ok, so you’re in the really early stages.
Molly Jong-Fast: Yes. I would say, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY early stages.
Stephanie: I just have to say that I LOVED this book!
Molly Jong-Fast: Awww, thank you. That is so good to hear. I hope a lot of people read it!
Stephanie: What is you favorite music right now?
Molly Jong-Fast: I like Galaxy 500.
Stephanie: Cool! I’ll check that out. And you have three kids, right?
Molly Jong-Fast: Yes.
Stephanie: Amazing! You must be the BEST mom!
Molly Jong-Fast: No!
Stephanie: Oh everyone says that! You don’t HAVE to be THE BEST anyway! It’s all RELATIVE, no pun intended.
Molly Jong-Fast: I’m ok. I’m good.
Stephanie: Ok, wonderful! So, you’re not a vegetarian, are you?
Molly Jong-Fast: No! I eat meat. And I love sugar. I have a REAL sugar problem.
Stephanie: What’s your favorite candy? Do you like Reese’s peanut butter cups?
Molly Jong-Fast: Um, I don’t like peanut butter, but I LOVE Swedish Fish.
Stephanie: My sister loves those. Ok, I get it. So you like the gummy family.
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah. I love GUMMY anything. Anything gummy.
Stephanie: That’s fabulous! So isn’t that nice that your mom and dad are still alive, and you see them often…
Molly Jong-Fast: Yeah. I REALLY love my parents. They’re really cute. I love them.
Stephanie: That’s so sweet. And see, that is also why you are probably a fantastic mom; because you have seen good parenting and have very strong family bonds. I love that. So for how long have you been married?
Molly Jong-Fast: I’ve been married for almost ten years.
Stephanie: Wow! Excellent! Well, listen, you are just fantastic. I LOVED all of your books, especially the new novel, “The Social Climber’s handbook.” I LOVED IT!! I personally hope that a lot of people buy it, because we all at Glamwire want you to keep WRITING!!!! THANK YOU for being our Featured Novelist for May.
Molly Jong-Fast: Thank you!