I earned my MFA from the University of Iowa in 2002 and published my first novel, A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards, in 2005. It was one those "just-missed" books: just missed being Scribner's lead debut of fall; just missed getting a NYT review; was optioned by a television network and just missed getting made... Still, it was a pretty fabulous experience. The reviews were good; I went on an extensive reading tour. I was working on a second book for Scribner.
Then the downturn of 2008 happened.
Things fell apart on both ends: the publisher's and mine. They started looking for flashier authors with better name recognition who could sell a book out of the gate. I took a write-for-hire job with a Minneapolis chef who'd gotten quite a bit of national press. Together, we wrote Damn Good Food — a memoir, tell-all and cookbook — that remains to this day my top-selling work. (Wouldn't you know? That one got into the Times.)
My second novel was a long time coming and a tough sell, but it is by far my favorite of my books. The Forever Marriage came out in 2012 with a small but esteemed publisher called Overlook. They also optioned my next book, Forgiveness 4 You, which came out in 2015.
I cannot say if I would have quit writing novels after F4Y under other circumstances...It was certainly becoming a tedious mostly-marketing slog. But before I had the opportunity to figure out my next move, I was stopped by a catastrophe so large I did nothing and spoke to no one but my inner circle for more than a year.
In November 2016, my oldest child - age 28 - was found dead in his apartment. I got the news from my husband on a sunny Friday morning. No cause of death was ever determined.
Nothing about publishing....or really, anything....compelled me after this event. I did not return to work until late '17 and even then at half capacity (in every sense of the phrase). Nothing made life better, but I found a few things that made it bearable. Walks, coffee, dogs, movies and plays. I'd always loved the first four but my interest in theater just grew and grew. I had time to fill and I wanted real, meaningful drama and ideas. So I began going to every play I could find. Large, small, U.S., London-based. I also read plays: everything from Edward Albee to Paula Vogel and new stuff by Prince Gomolvilas and Yasmina Reza.
Eventually, when I began writing again earlier this year, I produced a story memo that slowly began turning into a two-act play. I finished it earlier this month. So here I am, actually creating again. Mostly inexperienced in this medium but ready to learn.
Angela is tied forever to her 29-year-old mentally disabled son and desperate to maintain a bond with her beautiful, successful 25-year-old daughter, Cherry. But Cherry wants nothing more than to escape the fear and chaos of her brother's condition. When she begins dating a man from a perfect all-American family, they give Cherry the opening she needs to escape. Angela goes to battle for the daughter she sees as "hers," but the consequences are dark and unforeseen. Bound deals with clashes of culture, politics, values and asks the question: Who must stay?