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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Filipacchi, Amanda: Author interview

Today I'm interviewing Amanda Filipacchi, who is the author of Love Creeps, newly out in paperback, as well as Vapor and Nude Men. I reviewed Love Creeps at book-blog.com and really enjoyed the premise and Filipacchi's breezy writing style:

"The phenomenon of stalking may not seem like particularly fertile ground for humor, but Filipacchi proves that weird obsession can be drop-dead funny. Her writing is breezy, her characters deliciously flawed. Readers may not long remember the specifics of this romantic comedy's twists and turns, but they're unlikely to forget the amusing image of a trio of love-sick stalkers pursuing one another openly through the streets, swimming pools, and beading classes of New York."

You can visit the author on the web at amandafilipacchi.com. Meanwhile, here's what she has to say:

1. Tell us a little bit about Love Creeps.

Love Creeps is about a woman, Lynn Gallagher, who one day realizes she has lost her desire for all things. She's 32, she's a successful Manhattan gallery owner, and she has everything in life to make her happy. But...and here I will quote the first page, because it describes her situation well: "she has never before wanted nothing, and she misses wanting. No one around her wants nothing. She becomes envious of everyone who wants--especially her stalker, Alan Morton, who wants her very badly. Because she envies Alan, Lynn decides to copy him." And that is why, thirty-seven minutes later, she starts stalking Roland Dupont, an attractive French lawyer.

2. So...stalking. I found the idea of stalking as a basis for humor immediately appealing because, to tell the truth, I've always harbored the idea that if life ever got really dull one could at least stalk someone to liven things up. Where did this story idea come from?

I don't know where it came from. It just came. I create my plots one event at a time. I'm very thorough, and for every aspect of the novel I make a list of every possibility I can think of, just to make sure that I haven't overlooked any that may be better than the first ones that come to mind (usually I have). And the topic of stalking creeped in. I've always been interested in the topics of obsessive love, and obsession in general, and addiction. I have never been seriously stalked. If I had been, I'm sure I couldn't have written this book. None of the characters experiences any fear about being stalked. I was able to see the humorous side, and to develop it into a comedy. I'm glad I didn't do any research beforehand, because I know that really being stalked is a frightening experience that can plague and damage your life, even when no actual physical harm is done to you. If I'd delved into the sinister side of stalking, I probably couldn't have produced one funny line.

3. One of my favorite Patricia Highsmith novels is A Suspension of Mercy, in which a mystery writer pretends to kill his wife so he'll have a better handle on the experience for his writing. He goes so far as to bury a rolled-up carpet in the woods, for example. You know where this is leading: did you do any hands-on research for Love Creeps, picking somebody out on the subway and following him home, that sort of thing?

I wish I could say yes, but I must say no. I have a wild imagination, that's all. The one thing I researched was 12-step groups. I went with a friend to a group of sex addicts one time. It was interesting. There were only men. The main thing I learned was that it's really inconvenient to have to masturbate 50 times a day. It interferes with things. It's hard to have a normal life.

4. Have you gotten any flack for looking at the lighter side of stalking?

No. My boyfriend thought I would. He was bracing himself. But no one that I know of was disturbed by the topic. People in general seemed to find the book funny. Same thing happened when my first novel, Nude Men, came out. It's about a very precocious 11-year-old girl who tries (and succeeds) to seduce a 29-year-old man. The only sign of disapproval I got was when I was on a TV show in Holland when the book came out there. One member of the audience got a little indignant and snippy, but I don't think she'd read the book, and plus the producers had come up to me in my dressing room before the show and encouraged me to argue with the audience and get agitated (I then went out of my way to stay extremely calm), so I assume they encouraged the audience to do the same thing. That one instance of disapproval may have been a bit forced.

5. The movie rights to Love Creeps have been sold, which leads me to admit that throughout the book I was picturing Wallace Shawn as Alan, Lynn's stalker. He may be too old for the role at this point, but whom would you cast for the three leads?

I'm not allowed to reveal who the producers want for the roles. Wallace Shawn is a great idea, though it's true that he's probably too old for that part now. But he would have been good. He's even more extremely Alan than I pictured Alan being. One person I would love for Alan is Philip Seymour Hoffman. For Lynn, I think Nicole Kidman would be great. After I saw "Friends With Money" recently, I thought Jennifer Aniston could be good, too. In that movie, her character is a bit of a stalker, so I could easily picture her in Love Creeps. Sandra Bullock would be great for Lynn (in fact, she was supposed to be in the movie based on my last novel, Vapor. The script had already been written by Neil LaBute, who was to direct as well. And Sandra and Ralph Fiennes were attached to star. Just when the shooting was about to begin, the project fell through, unfortunately). For Roland, I thought of the French actor Samuel Le Bihan, because he's a friend and I think he's good. But then the producers decided to make that character British. So Samuel's out, but hopefully maybe Hugh Grant is in?...

6. What are the last three books you've read, and what did you think of them?

When I was young I used to remember all books and movies in excruciating detail. As I get older, I seem to forget them the second I've read/watched them. But here are the last three books I read:

- Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis. Really fun to read and deliciously scary. Really imaginative. I was on a TV show in France just a week or so ago. For books, it's the most sales-boosting show in France, sort of the way "Oprah" is here. Anyway, on camera the host and a French writer on the set made a huge deal out of the fact that Bret Easton Ellis had given me a blurb. The French writer said something like, "He is our god, here." And the host (who receives huge celebrities like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, big politicians, etc.) said, "Did you know we had the honor of having him here on our set?" It was great. The French have good taste.

- Down Came the Rain, by Brooke Shields. I read this because I'm thinking of not having children, and also because I sometimes suffer from depression, and they say that people with depression are much more prone to postpartum depression than other people, so the topic interests me. I enjoyed it. Made me lean a little more toward not having children. I found the despair she sank into after giving birth fascinating.

- The Ghost Writer, by Philip Roth. I read this one because it's about a writer and I love novels about writers. I enjoyed it. I was struck by how simple the plot was, especially compared to my plots, which tend to be rather convoluted. Made me think that perhaps I should try not to fear simplicity in my story constructions.

7. What's the current project?

I'm very excited about it. Over the course of time, I've noticed that my life seems to imitate my novels. For example, in Vapor: For the heroine's love interest, I created a character who's a scientist and is very good-looking (in the style of Bon Jovi). They have a stormy relationship. While I was finishing writing that novel, I met at a party an astrophysicist who looked like a rock star (Bon Jovi, to be precise). He became my boyfriend for a year, but we had a very stormy relationship. Another example: in my first novel, Nude Men, one of my main characters dies of a brain tumor. While writing that section, I spent a month or more drenched in the topic of brain tumors. Then, toward the end of it, I got a call from a dear friend telling me he'd just been diagnosed with a brain tumor (he died from it 7 years later). And there are other examples of how my life sometimes copies my novels. I know these are just coincidences, and I'm not superstitious; nevertheless, I decided that my next novel should be about extremely happy people who are loved unconditionally, get along with everyone, and are showered with wonderful events. Or at least that was my intention.... When I embarked on this sure-to-be-life-improving-project, I discovered that it's really hard to write a novel in which all the characters are happy and all the events are positive. Really hard. I held on tight for as long as I could, but then the misery had to creep into the novel. I don't think it could have been a novel otherwise. Stories need conflict. But still, that exercise of trying for a long time to keep it a positive and happy thing has produced a very interesting result--one that I love. I think it's my favorite and most ambitious novel so far. The characters are very likable, even lovable (which hasn't usually been the case with my previous novels, and I didn't care). I don't want to tell you the interesting elements in the story, because I tend to lose my excitement for a project when I reveal its best parts. So I will reveal the most boring aspects: It's about a group of artistic friends in NY. It's also a moralistic (but still humorous) tirade on the unfortunate importance of physical appearance in our world.

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