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Debra Hamel is the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

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BOOK REVIEWS: 624
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Updated 2-6-24. [Reviews are longer and have ratings. Notices do not have ratings.]

Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)





Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



Hauser, Melanie Lynne: Author interview

Melanie Lynne Hauser lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two teenage boys, who provide her with endless inspiration, and occasional frustration. Her first novel, Confessions of Super Mom (Dutton Books), will be released in August, with the sequel to follow in 2006. She's a contributor, along with Jodi Picoult, Jacqueline Mitchard and Jennifer Lauck, to the forthcoming anthology It's a Boy (October 2005, Seal Press.) Her stories have been published in The Adirondack Review, In Posse Review, and performed on Chicago's National Public Radio's "Stories on Stage" program.

Visit the author online at melanielynnehauser.com, or contact her at [email protected].

1. Tell us a little about Confessions of Super Mom and its sequel, which you're working away on even as I ask you this.

Confessions of Super Mom tells the origin story of Super Mom, aka Birdie Lee, mild-mannered grocery store cashier and divorced mother of two teenagers. After suffering a Horrible Swiffer Accident, Birdie discovers she has mysterious powers--the ability to read a child's mind, tell when a child is in danger, "hear" electronic devices (such as IM's and cell phone conversations), and of course, the ability to clean with the power of 10,000 Swiffers. With the help of her son she realizes she's really a superhero--a Super Mom. But while other superheroes get to zip around the globe in invisible planes, she still has to come home after a hard day's work and get supper on the table, deal with moody teenagers, and attend numerous PTA meetings. And still, she has to deal with the requisite Nefarious Villain. But by the end of the book, she's starting to figure out how to juggle all her identities--Super Mom, mom, woman, friend--and maybe lover.

The sequel? Aaah! Well, the sequel follows what happens next in the little town of Astro Park, Kansas. Birdie and her children are struggling to figure out boundaries--when is she Super Mom, and when is she just plain mom? Is it ethical to use her superpowers to make her children's lives conform to the way she thinks they should be? She and her nerdy scientist love interest, Carl, find their relationship heating up, so that they're faced with the task of blending their families--and finding that it's not at all like The Brady Bunch. And then her ex-husband tries to worm his way back into her life, with unexpected results. And of course, there will be yet another Nefarious Villain or two for her to deal with.

2. Super Mom fits neatly into the existing superhero universe: I mean, she's got her super attributes, her archnemesis, her interesting genesis, her kryptonite-like Achilles heel (to mix mythologies). So tell us: in researching your book, how many comic books did you wind up reading?

None! I had at my disposal some of the greatest comic book nerds out there--my brother, my husband, and my sons. Growing up in a house full of boys (I'm the only daughter), and then having only sons, I couldn't help but absorb a lot of the comic book culture. My two sons used to dress up as Batman and Robin all the time, when they were little! So really, if I didn't know something already, all I had to do was shout and somebody had an answer.

3. This is your first published novel, but you have a couple manuscripts hidden in your drawers, I believe. (I mean your desk drawers.) Have you any plan for remarketing those now that Confessions of Super Mom has hit print?

Thanks for clarifying in which drawers I'm apparently hiding things! Yes, I do have two previously-agented, submitted novels. Actually I think that what I said in the first novel I also was able to cover in Super Mom--different characters and plots, of course, but a lot of the same emotions, mainly centered around a mother trying to "find" herself, trying to step out from behind her family's shadow. The other book I still love a lot, and would definitely want to pull out and show to my editor at the right time. My agent and I have talked about this, actually! And I was also over 100 pages into a new novel when SUPER MOM sold, and I'd love to go back to it--it's a magical, almost supernatural concept, but still very much women's fiction, and I'm eager to revisit it.

4. If you could have any one of Super Mom's super powers, which one would it be, and why? (I'm assuming you don't currently have any super powers.)

Well, that's what I tell people..... If I could have any of her super powers, I think it would be the Merciless Gaze--the ability to make anyone tell the truth and feel guilty about trying to conceal it in the first place.

5. If you could have any one of Super Mom's super powers, which one would it be, and why? (I'm assuming you don't currently have any super powers.)

Well, that's what I tell people.... If I could have any of her super powers, I think it would be the Merciless Gaze--the ability to make anyone tell the truth and feel guilty about trying to conceal it in the first place.

6. You wrote on your blog a while back about your experience using a public toilet while dressed in a super hero costume. Can you elaborate here on your penchant for dressing superheroically in public? Have you had any further interesting incidents? And are there pictures?

Well, I did dress up as Supergirl one Halloween, and my husband suggested I keep the costume for further, um, use....

As far as the bathroom incident, I'm just going to have to ask Wonder Woman how she handles it.

7. You started your blog Refrigerator Door in May of 2005. How have you taken to blogging? Are you one of those people who love it--for whom life's events are either blogable or not-blogable--or is it more of a duty?

That's a good question! I've found blogging to be invaluable in cultivating an audience prior to the book launch--but it is time consuming. I don't find the writing part to be difficult, nor do I find that it "takes away" from my other writing--and honestly, I've never let the truth get in the way of a good story, if you know what I mean!  However, the other part--the visiting other blogs and leaving comments and gathering links--can really suck you in. While it's great fun and I'm reading terrific stories and learning about smart people, I've got to discipline myself with regard to the amount of time I spend. One blog leads to another blog leads to another.... That's the part I fear will somehow prevent me from getting my other writing done in time. But I'm still pretty new at this, so hopefully I'll figure out how to budget my time.

8. How did you go about plotting out your book? And what is your writing schedule like?

Plot? I don't need no stinkin' plot.... Actually, I never outline or plot, at least not formally. Once the idea of a book hits me, I spend a lot of time--weeks, maybe--just thinking about it. Eventually certain scenes will play themselves out like a movie, and when I finally sit down to write, I try to write toward these scenes. I usually have the starting scene and the ending scene fairly detailed in the beginning (although I won't write the ending scene until I get to it; I can't write out of order), and a vague idea of some of the main things I want to say, and then I let my characters take over as I write. I had to outline the plot for the sequel, since it's under contract, and I've already strayed very far from it. I knew I would; I told my editor I would, and she's very understanding of how I need to work. 

9. Where did the idea of Super Mom come from?

After a particularly heartbreaking round of rejections for that 2nd submitted book (an editor had called my agent up the day after getting the submission, very excited, practically making an offer--yet it didn't get past the committee stage at that house), I was really frustrated. This book was a lovely, quiet book, with real characters--and I kept hearing that publishers weren't buying lovely, quiet books from new authors. And my agent said, "Maybe readers today want their characters to be larger than life." And that stuck with me; I got really angry and said, "OK, you want larger than life? Then I'll write about a superhero!" And then I thought--"How brilliant is that? I'll still write about the issues that interest me, as a woman, a wife, a mother--only the main character will be a superhero!" At first the superhero part was really only a device, a hook, but eventually it took on a deeper meaning as a metaphor, a satire, and also just a fun subject to write about. 

10. Finally, what question *should* I be asking you?

Why aren't you writing the sequel? It's due to your editor in November!

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