This is not self-promotion (since these secluded pages hardly function as publicity), but rather a real-time, step-by-step account of the typical run-up to a new book’s pub date (and for a while thereafter). When it’s your first book, this process is almost nauseatingly exciting. By your fourth, it’s not. Some dread remains; almost zero excitement. The book will come and go. Anyway…
First usually come reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal. Kirkus doesn’t publish theirs until a couple of weeks ahead of the pub date, and they don’t generally like me all that much anyway. [Called it! See below.]
Here’s PW, starred, on May 6:
Willett’s hilarious follow-up to The Writing Class pulls no punches when it comes to current literary trends. Amy Gallup was once heralded as a fresh voice in fiction, but with her novels now long out of print, she’s content with a quiet, anonymous life of leading workshops, keeping lists of great-sounding titles for stories she’ll never write, and maintaining her sporadically updated blog. One afternoon, however, while working in her garden, Amy trips and cold-cocks herself on a birdbath. Still reeling from the head injury hours later, she gives a loopy interview to a reporter working on a series of local author profiles. The result goes viral, and suddenly Amy is a hot commodity on the literary pundit trail. She couldn’t care less about being relevant or famous, which lends a refreshingly brutal honesty to her commentary on the radio, television, and lecture circuit. But her newfound notoriety also pushes Amy out of her comfort zone, forcing her to confront years of neuroses and an unexamined postwriting life. Willett uses her charmingly filterless heroine as a mouthpiece to slam a parade of thinly veiled literati and media personalities with riotous accuracy, but she balances the snark with moments of poignancy. (July)
Here’s the Kirkus:
Amy Gallup, 60, hasn’t published a book in 20 years, and she’s settled into a
quiet life with her beloved basset hound, Alphonse. None too excited about a
newspaper interview she’s agreed to give, she trips, knocking herself out on the
birdbath just hours before she’s scheduled to play the role of has-been local
Oddly, she regains consciousness to see the reporter’s car pulling out of her
driveway. In the emergency room later, she has the distinct pleasure of reading
her own interview–an interview she evidently gave without the assistance of a
conscious, rational mind. Amy’s cryptic, concussion-addled interview rejuvenates
her career. Suddenly, her agent–chain-smoking, aggressive but kindly Maxine–is
calling again, arranging appearances and pushing for new material. Her former
writing students are back, too. After all, their crazed, knife-wielding former
classmate (from Willett’s The Writing Class, 2008) is now safely behind bars.
The collection of friends and opponents surrounding Amy are flat characters
bedazzled with quirks, but that doesn’t quite make them quirky. Grudgingly, Amy
goes on tour, battling wits with shrill, book-phobic radio hosts,
twitter-bewitched moderators, new authors drunk on blogs and old authors drunk
on scotch. Along the way, she confronts the demons of her past, including her
buried grief for her late, gay husband, as well as her ambivalence about
success. The skewering of the business of selling books–despite some hilarious
scenes and Amy’s dry humor–gets repetitive as Amy tirelessly defends real
writing and debunks virtual book launches. Amy is endearing, yet it is difficult
to remain curious about a heroine whose only interest is writing.
Willett’s skill in crafting zany scenes and Amy’s acerbic wit are not enough to
keep this novel afloat.
Apparently AFD is on the July 2013 Indie Next List, which is a good thing, although I don’t know what it means. The whole Bookseller concept is opaque to me. It’s nice news, though.
Booklist Review, Issue: July 1, 2013
Amy Falls Down.
Willett, Jincy (Author)
Jul 2013. 336 p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, hardcover, $24.99. (9781250028273). St. Martin’s/Thomas
Dunne, e-book, $11.99. (9781250028280).
In this sequel to the events that ended Willett’s The Writing Class (2008), erstwhile novelist turned online writing instructor Amy Gallup stumbles in her backyard just minutes before being interviewed for a where-are-the-has-beens-of-yesteryear article. It can only be assumed that her skull’s brief contact with a concrete birdbath is what >transformed Amy from an irascible wag to an insouciant wit. Whatever the cause, suddenly Amy is hot again. After the article goes viral, her former agent resurfaces, booking her on NPR and scoring profiles in mainstream media, and she’s the A-list guest for literary panels discussing such egregious topics as “Whither Publishing?” Best yet, Amy’s creative muse also reappears, and short stories spew forth as if out of the ether. It’s a heady ride for the one-time recluse, showing her that, hey, maybe success isn’t so bad after all. For anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to be an author, Willett’s thinly veiled heroine provides a saucily irreverent look at the writing life.
– Carol Haggas
Since Willett’s fey, popular novels include a winner of the National Book Award, it is perhaps no surprise that the protagonist of her latest book is a writer. Withdrawn, cranky Amy Gallup hasn’t written much lately, but when she clonks her head on a birdbath after tripping in her own backyard, then follows through with a scheduled interview that ends up portraying her wandering thoughts as sheer genius, Amy is suddenly a media hit. And she starts to write. With a reading group guide and lots of publicity.
I am a Top Ten Beach Read. Or at least “Jincy Willet” is.
Pub date. Amy is an “Apple best book of the month.” I don’t know what that means.
Reading at Warwick’s in La Jolla.
Megan Labrise’s Kirkus Interview
Review in the Dallas News. They hate it, although apparently one chapter pleases them. I think I know which one.
Also brief review in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram:
Translation rights inquiry from Norway. (I love translations.)
Also, AFD featured in This Week’s Top Picks on BookBrowse (http://www.bookbrowse.com/). Not sure whether this helps sales.
At about 16:10, Nancy Pearl on AFD (on NPR). This is actually kind of thrilling. A librarian likes my stuff! (The highest praise imaginable. In another life, I’d be a librarian.)
Kind word from David Sedaris on FB.
Who would I like to play my characters in a movie? Never going to happen.
Review in the ProJo.
We could say that Jincy Willett’s new novel is “hilarious,” that her wit is “wicked, savage, ferocious,” that her theme is “compelling,” had she not beaten us to the punch by skewering book reviewers using those very words.
The fact is that Jincy Willett is hilarious, witty and compelling, and whether you are a writing biz insider or just an average reader who believes that authors should entertain us once in a while, “Amy Falls Down” succeeds on every level. Her characters and her story ring all-too true, her satire of the literary life is dead on, and she artfully follows all the writing advice her novelist-heroine churns out.
Amy Gallup hasn’t written a word in years. Instead she makes a modest living as an online writing teacher; her previous face-to-face class disintegrated after a student shot up the place. An admitted misanthrope (her blog is titled “GO AWAY”), she has a working knowledge of the Twitter-Facebook universe but not much faith in its usefulness.
Amy would continue on her grumpy path, were it not for a literal misstep one New Year’s Day. She takes a flying half-gainer in the backyard while chasing her Basset hound, Alphonse, and strikes her head on a birdbath. The resulting concussion leads to a blackout, during which she gives a cryptic interview to a local newspaper reporter that soon goes viral.
Soon her long-lost agent, Maxine, is calling, and Amy is being booked on talk shows, conferences, even NPR. And lo and behold, Amy is writing again, and she has no hope of keeping the world at arm’s length much longer.
Amy doles out writing advice with plenty of vinegar. She tells a writing conference audience: “this is the last place you should be. Nothing’s going to rub off on you.” During an NPR interview, she declares, “most writers just aren’t that interesting.” Bemoaning the book glut, she proposes a moratorium on publishing for a decade or so, just to let everyone catch up.
“For the first time in a hundred years, readers would have time to read all the books they’d been meaning to get to, and the tens of thousands more that they never even heard of,” Amy tells a radio interviewer.
Moratorium or no, put “Amy Falls Down” on the top of your list.
November 4, 2013
Interview with NPR Radio Pet Lady
November 20, 2013
At an ALA webinar, the fabulous Nancy Pearl recommends my book for holiday gift-buying.
The Brown Alumni Monthly gets around to mentioning AFD (http://www.brownalumnimagazine.com/content/view/3542/28/):
Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett ’78, ’81 AM (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s).
Fame, it seems, can arrive when you least expect it. Amy Gallup (The Writing Class) is an unlikely heroine, a weary writing instructor who hasn’t written a book in three decades. But Amy slips in the yard and bangs her head on the birdbath. A concussion ensues, followed by a loopy, unremembered interview with a reporter, which leads to a burst of Internet notoriety and a fresh chance at literary glory. A hilarious and hopeful novel.
November 23, 2013
Nifty aside from the redoubtable M.J. Andersen in the Providence Journal
November 24, 2013
December 4, 2013
Made NPR’s Best Books of 2013
Furious Fiction web interview posted
February 19, 2014
AFD is a finalist in the Audie (audiobooks and spoken word) competition held by the Audio Publishers Association:
Hurray! I’ve been waiting for Amy and Alphonse to return. Can’t decide whether to get the Kindle or paper version…no, I cannot buy both 😉
Have turned into one of the worst members of the Writing Class…all research and no cattle, er, book. But at least the thought of the novel kept me going for a couple of years.
Maybe this is the year…or maybe not. In any case, I hope there is yet another Amy and Alphonse novel in a few more years.
Thank you for these books.
And thanks for the kind words–glad you’re still at it (it=writing)!
Finished Amy Falls Down. Bit unsettled by the end. Please don’t kill off Alphonse in the next book, if there is to be one. Post-Alphonse or Alphonse all the way…but not leaving mid-book. Please?
I don’t plan another book about them, but for sure Alphonse is eternal. I would never kill a basset. Swear to god.
I was thinking Amy’s books were complete…very glad Alphonse will be eternal, just as readers remember him. Thanks for the books.
Dear Ms. Willett,
The Writing Class and I am eating it up. So funny and sad. Please tell me Alphonse lives (I’m in the middle). I can’t wait to read your other works, and I am so appreciative to find a writer whom I can love. I’ve committed numerous grammatical crimes in this post but please don’t hold it against me. (Another one!)
I meant “I am reading…” Sticky keyboard…
I promise you I will never kill any basset, fictional or otherwise. Thanks for the kind words, Carolyn.
‘Amy Falls Down’ fell off the special selection shelf at my local sacred library and so, of course I had to check it out. I am devouring ‘Amy Falls Down’…read before I go to bed, then wake up at 1am or 2 am to continue reading for another hour. Messed up sleep pattern but I’m not complaining–I am discovering a bit of courage within to end my self-imposed, fear-ridden routine isolation and reconnect to unpredictable earth. Thank you, Jincy!
Thanks so much, Cheryl.