If you don’t know Maria Murnane, yet. You will. Maria is the award-winning author of the book Perfect on Paper – the all too familiar tale of a girl who is looking for something… more. Gretch and I were lucky enough to catch up with Maria for an interview. Enjoy 10-ish questions with Maria Murnane.
Jane: Hey, Maria. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us. We know you’re really busy what with the new book, promoting this one, and all the events you do. So, thanks! Gretchen and I have both read your book and we love it. There was so much we could identify with. It was like you were writing about us and all our friends. What inspired you to write Perfect on Paper?
Maria: I’ve always loved to write (I was an English major in college), but I guess you could say that being single in San Francisco for several years was what really motivated me to write this book! It just got to the point where I had so many hilarious stories running around in my head that I needed to do something with them. But I was working full-time and never really had the time, and I didn’t know exactly what the plot would be. So it never went anywhere. Then one day I quit my PR job and bought a ticket to go to Argentina by myself for a couple weeks before facing real life again. After two weeks I loved it so much there that I decided to stay for a year to play semi-pro soccer! (random, but fun) After I’d been there for a couple months I realized that if I was ever going to write a book, that was that time. So I just started writing and writing and writing, and eventually I had the first draft of what would eventually become Perfect on Paper.
Jane: Yeah, we know what you mean. Real life dates inspired this blog. Did events in your personal life help you write the story?
Maria: Leaving my job certainly allowed me to write it. I’m so happy I left the country and took a chance on a more fulfilling life! The main plot is entirely made up, but the backdrop of the story (San Francisco setting, Waverly’s neighborhood, PR job, etc.) are based on my own life. Plus a lot of the ridiculous things that happened to Waverly are based on things that have happened to me and/or my friends in real life. All the crazy dating stories in the book are real. Now THAT is scary.
Jane: I had a boner in my lumbar vertebrae. I know scary. Why do you put Waverly through all of it?
Maria: As for what happens to Waverly, I guess the message would be this: Life is short, so stop worrying so much about what you think you’re supposed to be doing with it, and start focusing on what you want to be doing with it. Once you do that, things will fall into place one way or another, and you’ll have a lot more fun along the way.
Jane: That’s a nice message. I like it. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in regret and what’s NOT happening. It’s important to keep looking forward. Gretchen and I parrot that to each other all the time. I think Waverly could be our friend. How do you describe her?
Maria: I sometimes call her my alter-ego. She’s witty and smart and good at her job, but at the beginning of Perfect on Paper she cares too much about what other people think she should be doing with her life instead of focusing on what she wants to do with her life. It’s fun to watch her grow and realize that no one is keeping score but her, so she shouldn’t worry so much about what other people think.
Jane: Does she reflect you?
Maria: My friends all say that reading Perfect on Paper is like listening to me talk for 320 pages, so that should answer the question!
Jane: Gretchen tells me that about my posts! And when I read hers I feel like I’m sitting in her living room reviewing the latest date or drama. Waverly has moments like that with her friends. You’ve written a nice little life for her. She had to deal with some issues, but she is happy.
Maria: I like to say that Waverly’s life is essentially my life—if my life were way more exciting. Personality-wise we are very similar (I am always making random observations like she does and tend to stick my foot in my mouth a bit too often), but in other ways we are very different. My family situation is a good example of that—my parents are still happily married and are extremely supportive of me, and I have two sisters and a brother who are awesome, as are their spouses and kids. Waverly missed out on all that, but I felt it made the story more interesting to have her as an only child.
Jane: What is it about Waverly’s story that you think people like so much?
Maria: Honestly, I think it’s the fact that she messes up so much! She’s tries her best, but she is far from perfect. She gets her heart broken. She jumps to conclusions. She’s extremely smart but can act really dumb when she gets nervous or drinks too much. People feel she’s a real person, not just an airbrushed character on the cover or a magazine. Many readers have also told me they love the relationship Waverly has with her two best friends, Andie and McKenna.
Jane: What’s next for you and Waverly?
Maria: A sequel!
Maria: I recently finished It’s a Waverly Life, so it should be out at the end of 2011 or early 2012. Yay! Please sign up for my newsletter for updates (www.mariamurnane.com) and you can pre-order on Amazon.
Jane: That’s exciting. We can’t wait to read it!!! Maybe we’ll give some away!!! Okay, Maria. Time to spill… do you have real-life dating drama?
Maria: How much time do you have?
Jane: Oh, sister. We hear ya! Okay, we’ll be more specific…what’s the most unbelievable dating experience you’ve had?
Maria: I was set up through a professional matchmaking service with a guy they told me owned his own company. Turns out he was a magician. It went downhill from there.
Jane: You can’t make that stuff up. Incredible. Any sage wisdom for us dating-girls out there?
Maria: 1) We can usually spot red flags right away, but we often choose to ignore them because the guy is (insert appealing adjectives here). If you see red flags early on, cut your losses and move on. 2) If a guy does something to you that you’d be too ashamed to tell your girlfriends about, think long and hard about why you want to be with him. 3) Never have more than one or two drinks on the first date.
Jane: Good advice. That always happens doesn’t it? Us girls, I know I have, make excuses for what we don’t like. Try too hard to make things fit. Maybe one day we’ll learn… Okay… so time for a little game. It’s easy. It’s called This or That. I’ll give you some options and you choose.
1. coffee or tea?
2. beauty pageants: scholarship program or old-fashion skin parade?
3. guys: tiresome or worth it?
4. boardroom or bedroom?
5. children: cute, i want some or cute, keep them away from me.
I’m an auntie to six adorable munchkins- that’s enough for me
6. sex on a bed or in any other room of the house?
My parents are reading this
7. mac or pc?
8. iphone or droid?
9. Kate Middleton: Yay or Nay?
10. Online dating: great way to meet new people or only for creepos?
That’s how William and Kate met, right? 😉
Thanks a lot Maria! Good luck with the new book. We can’t wait to read it!
Okay folks, make sure you go out and read Perfect on Paper and It’s a Waverly Life when it comes out. We can do a little e-book club!!! Pre-order Maria Murnane’s It’s a Waverly Life!