THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN...
Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, known for her big blonde hair, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party. But with political wunderkind Zane Zarillo running her campaign, Catherine is sure to hold onto the lead.
Suddenly a medical emergency puts the President in the hospital and forces Catherine to act in his place… a perfect opportunity for her to show her Oval Office stuff. Just when her election looks like a sure thing, Catherine's romantic fling from decades ago comes to light. Will the American public accept a woman with a past?
See what I meant? Piqued, aren't you? Well, then, please let me introduce you all to Patrice Fitzgerald! And what's best to get to know someone than an interview?
[Me] Hi there! Thanks for joining us today... For starters, why don't you tell us in one sentence why we would love RUNNING?
[Patrice] RUNNING follows a strong but very real candidate as she tries to attain the highest office in the United States -- one never yet held by a woman -- while confronting some painful realities of her past and encountering action, suspense, romance, and humor.
When did you realize you wanted to tell this story to the world? How did it come to you, for that matter?
The impetus for this story was the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. That blockbuster real-life drama was both shocking and titillating -- and it put online news sites on the map for the first time. I wanted to see what might happen if there were a woman politician who carried a similar whiff of scandal. Although Vice President Young doesn't do what Clinton did!
Because I’m a snoopy person: how long did it take you to write this book?
I did quite a bit of thinking about the story first, and then wrote a synopsis, which I discussed with my critique group. Once I had the basic structure, I wrote the first draft in about six months. And then revised it a million times over several years, while writing other things and trying to get a traditional publishing contract.
Frankly, I don’t know a thing about running for president, so how much of that writing time did you spend on research related issues?
I grew up outside of Washington, D.C., I had worked for the State Department with Special Agents, and I spent a summer in Geneva, Switzerland. I have also been to Paris several times. Oh, and Brazil! (I even have a friend at the Brazilian Embassy.) And I just used my fertile imagination for the rest of it. I confess that I did only the kind of research required to make sure I didn't write anything completely ridiculous!
Characters are super important for me. In RUNNING, which one is your favorite? Why?
Well, definitely Catherine. She brings a lot of me to the book -- she's not me, but she makes decisions that I think I would have made. She's the character that we get to know the best. And I had a grand time imagining a woman running for President of the United States. How she would act, and what she would say. How she balances her family and personal life with that kind of political pressure. How others would interact with her as a woman potentially in charge of… well, the whole country! The Leader of the Free World, as they used to say.
I particularly enjoy the scene where she discovers she's going to be acting President, and the first thought anyone has is whether she should have her hair sprayed. Oops, I'm giving some things away…!
I see you took the indie way: what was your motivation? Why that choice?
I sort of backed into that, after several years of wanting to get an agent (and I did have a couple of agents over the years, but never sold this book) and a traditional Big 6 contract (I did get very close to selling the book -- and selling it to television). I finally decided that I was tired of waiting, particularly because this is a book that concerns a presidential campaign, and those come up only once every four years. I figured that the iron was hot right now, and I should strike!
Now that I'm an indie author I am THRILLED that I took that route. Not only is the book out now, when it needs to be… I had the fun (and the challenge) of designing the cover, learning to format, and marketing it myself. And I also get to keep an extraordinarily large percentage of the profits. That makes an author very happy.
Let’s get to the less glamorous stuff then: when you set out to publishing your novel, did you really know the kind of work awaiting behind the scenes?
Probably not. But I'm an intrepid sort of person. I had done editing for others, I have an English degree and a law degree. I have a good eye for artistic design. Plus, I have a husband who helped me with the technical side -- and believe me, the Fourth of July weekend when we uploaded the book was a real test of our marriage! Now it is much easier, since I've done it several times.
And I'm just generally full of chutzpah and curiosity about new things. I almost always like to do it myself when I can. So I've had a grand time with RUNNING.
Which aspect turned out to be harder for you? What came easier? (Find a cover artist, an editor, distribution, reaching out to the public…)
I lucked out by finding a wonderful cover artist immediately. I didn't know, at the time, what a find he was. I recommend Christopher Steininger -- if you can get onto his busy schedule. A friend who has 12 published books to her name did the editing for me. Amazon does the distribution; that's easy, if you're talking Kindle. Getting the word out to the public turns out to be the toughest part. But even that is not impossible. I broke out in December, when many folks got new Kindles, and so I am now launched. I sell pretty well on a steady basis. I just have to write more novels!
I like your cover. Did you design it yourself, or was it your cover artist idea?
I suggested a woman's legs behind a podium -- I was thinking of the photos of Sarah Palin wearing her iconic red high heels, and how the public focused on her beauty. My artist took that much further and turned it into a more active woman walking toward us. I adore the fact that she looks like she's walking on clouds, above the White House and in front of the American flag -- so that it includes some of those symbols you need to indicate a political thriller, without being too dark and threatening. It looks very different than all the very masculine, more violent thrillers out there. I love that the image on the front has her in red shoes and fishnets!
I see a little bit of Dorothy suddenly in Oz on the cover. A cover that can convey all of that nuance, and be colorful, true to the genre, and stand out from the crowd is a great one. The cover makes me happy every time I look at it.
Is there any choice made regarding RUNNING that you regret? If you could do it again, would you change anything at all about your experience with it?
Hmmm… I wish that I had jumped into indie publishing in 2010 instead of 2011. I'd be in a better position now with even more sales if I had.
Just for fun: Sweet or salty snacks?
Cats or dogs?
I love them both. I've had more cats than dogs, and my husband is the opposite. But he's allergic to cats, much as he enjoys them, so I guess we're doggie people from here on in. We just lost a lovely yellow Lab after 13 years this last fall. Very sad. Now we're wrestling with whether or not we're ready to be tied down with a sweet, demanding puppy again!
Schedules or procrastination?
Procrastination, all the way. Particularly today...
So that we don’t have an unlucky number of questions: tell us something surprising about yourself!
I'm not just a recovering attorney, I'm a professional singer as well. I perform in concerts with my husband, singing everything from jazz to opera… it's a great joy to sing with him. I'm also the owner of a small press, and I publish Anne Kelleher, who writes a series from the point of view of a young man with Down Syndrome -- "How David Met Sarah" is the first book. I also publish the pseudonymous author Frisky Dimplebuns, who writes funny books about looking for love online.
Thanks a million, Ron, for having me here. You do a great interview! And by the way, I see that you're wearing red shoes under your desk there...
Nah, thank you for sharing your experience with us! I loved having you around... And yes, yes, you discovered my little dirty secret! You just can't go wrong with red shoes, don't you think?
Get your own Running Copy: