Romantic Times 09.2006 with Cheryl Hoahing

1. HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE 5 SPOT LINE?
2. DID WARNER CONTACT YOU TO WRITE FOR THEM OR VICE VERSA?

I had never taken a writing class or been exposed to the publishing world before I finished the first draft of the novel and set out to find a literary agent. I had taken workshops at my local bookstore, gotten some great tips and then decided to query four agents. Looking back, if I had known more about publishing it might have scared me off, but... Luckily, I got a bid from representation from one of my four original queries and she turned around and sold the novel to Amy Einhorn at Warner within the first month. While this was happening 5 spot was in its infancy. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for me to be chosen as a part of the inaugural line.

3. TELL US ABOUT THE BOOK

Conversations with the Fat Girl is the story of Maggie Thompson and Olivia Morten. Maggie and Olivia have been best friends since they were in grade school. Both overweight, they befriended each other when no one else would. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the euphemism-if-there-ever-was- one "women's section," while Olivia went and had gastric bypass surgery in search of the elusive size two and the eternal happiness she thought would come with it. So, now Olivia is thin and getting married to a handsome surgeon, and Maggie's the fat bridesmaid in charge of planning "The Shower" and keeping Olivia's secret: that she's really a fat girl in a thin body.

4. WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK COME FROM?

After reading innumerable books where the heroine loses the weight, goes blond and is then able to scare up a man or where the heroine trolls online for a date, sends a doctored picture of herself thin and in about one month loses all the weight and once again happiness ensues, I decided to tell a more realistic story. Oh - and at no point is Maggie mulling over whether to shag Hugh Grant or Colin Firth. Puh- lease.

So, one night I was driving in my car on a mission. It was akin to the final scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, the one with Sean Connery, where Harrison Ford has to pass a series of tests in order to finally get his hands on the Holy Grail. Right away in the first test, knives are coming out of the walls of the cave, "only the penitent man shall pass...only the penitent man shall pass," he mumbles. Well, that was me at about 11:30 at night buzzing through the city in search of my own Holy Grail - a box of Lucky Charms. So, I bought the box of Lucky Charms, along with non-fat milk, and as I'm walking to the cash register I grab a Shape Magazine. It came to me that I might not be alone in my food schizophrenia - that internal civil war that women and girls fight everyday - Lucky Charms vs. non-fat milk and a Shape Magazine. This is what bore Conversations with the Fat Girl.

5. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE LAUNCH AUTHOR FOR 5 SPOT?

Overwhelming. Beautiful. Miraculous. At any point I'm waiting for someone to wake me up and inform me that this has all been some sick virtual reality experiment where I get to live out my greatest fantasy. I wake up every morning knowing that I'm just lucky to be here.

6. WILL YOU BE WRITING MORE TITLES FOR 5 SPOT?

Once again, taking the 'just lucky to be here' concept and running with it - I would love to keep writing for Warner/5 spot - and more specifically working with Amy Einhorn. She is committed, knowledgeable, hilariously in tune with all of my quirks and probably the only person with whom I can dish about the Gilmore Girls and Everwood.

7. WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR BOOK IS A GOOD REPRESENTATION OF WHAT READERS SHOULD EXPECT FROM THE 5 SPOT LINE?

In the aftermath of Curtis Sittenfeld's now infamous review of Melissa Bank's The Wonder Spot, there definitely seems to be some pretty clear lines drawn in the literary world among women - to quote Sittenfeld, "to suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut - doesn't the term basically bring down all of us?" I think it's pretty clear that Sittenfeld is more than a little bitter about that pink and green belt that decorates her own best-selling novel. Conversations with the Fat Girl is a perfect representation of 5 spot because it's a quality novel. It's poignant where it needs to be and funny in all the right spots. Conversations straddles that line drawn in the sand by just being what it is - a novel that will make you laugh and cry and want to pass it on. Period.

8. ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW?

On the business-y end, UK rights have been sold and there is a lot of movie interest. We are very excited about all the buzz the 5 spot launch has done for the novel.

 

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