Review from front cover:
"A great read! I can only imagine the discussions this novel will stimulate in book clubs." Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House.
Blurb from the press release:
"Zora Anderson, an African American 30-year-old college dropout with wanderlust, leaves her accidental au pair position in Paris and returns to her hometown of Ann Arbor with no life plan in mind and no real goals on the horizon. With pressure mounting from her well-educated, upper-middle class parents to do something useful with her life and with her own self-doubt growing, Zora decides to start over in New York and sublets a small Fort Greene studio apartment from a friend who is attending college in Massachusetts. After combing the newspaper classifieds and finding a want ad for a “substitute me,” Zora lands a job in Park Slope with a Wasp-y professional couple in their 30s, Kate and Brad Carter, to look after their young son, Oliver.
Although Zora’s primary goal is to merely keep the rent money coming in to pay for her sublet, she soon becomes attached to Oliver, a baby with a sweet disposition who is adored by his parents. But as happy as she is with the Carters, Zora keeps her job a secret from her parents whom she is certain will view her position as demeaning and not much different than one of servitude. While Oliver’s mother, Kate, initially feels ambivalent about returning to work after her maternity leave, she soon adjusts to being back in the office and spends long hours there as she keeps a close eye on a competitive colleague who wants her job. With Kate’s new long hours, Zora begins working overtime to accommodate her employer’s hectic schedule and becomes a true substitute in the Carter household in ways she never would have imagined."
How do you go about choosing names, locations etc?
I am such a thief. I usually 'borrow' other people's names that I really like and who remind me of my characters. Most of my friends will probably read SUBSTITUTE ME and chuckle at all of my name choices. Locations are easy. I choose places that I know well so I can write about them convincingly without having to travel.
Finishing that first draft and just getting a complete story down on paper. It feels so good and after that it's just about revising.
Of course it’s not the book for everyone, but I’d say women who enjoy Jodi Picoult or Jacqueline Mitchard novels might like it. And for anyone who found themselves completely engaged with the subject matter of Kathryn Stockett’s, The Help or Ayelet Waldman’s, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Substitute Me will probably be right up their alley. Suffice it to say, I want the book to be a bestseller, but more importantly, I just want a lot of women to read it and discuss it and pass it on to their friends and say, “you’ve got to read this book.” I want this book to start conversations and perhaps even push us all a little bit to change our thinking. My writing mantra has always been, “I write to change the world.” How would you like this to change the way we see each other? To change the world?
Well, all of the work I do as a writer is to get people to think about our similarities and differences with a more open mind. I want people to realize that even though we come from different places, at the end of the day most people put their pants on one leg at a time.
As far as SUBSTITUTE ME is concerned, I just think it will be a conversation starter on issues like adequate childcare, mothers who want to work outside the home being demonized, and issues of race when it comes to domestic workers. By no means is this book preachy in any way, nor does it have any kind of moral agenda. It's just a good story that I think will get people talking about some important issues.