Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview with Linda Urbach

Madame Bovary’s Daughter a novel of Fashion & Fortune by Linda Urbach.

Published July 26, 2011

Published by Radom House, Bantam. On July 26, 2011
Available on, Barnes and Noble, Random
Kindle Price $9.99

Author’s Website:

Author’s Bio:

Linda Urbach was born in Los Angeles, raised in Denver, spent a year in Paris trying to master the language and “came of age” in NYC. She is currently working on a new novel, Sarah’s Hair, the story of Sarah Bernhardt’s hairdresser. Two novels published by Putnam’s (under the name Linda U. Howard) The Money Honey and Expecting Miracles.

She co-authored with Roberto Mitrotti “The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud” (20th Century Fox Specialized Film Division). Her one act play “Scenes from A Cell” was a finalist in the 2002 New England One Act Festival. She is the originator of “MoMoirs: The Umbilical Cord Stops Here!” a theatrical production in conjunction with Theatre Arts Workshop of Norwalk, She’s also the creator of MoMoirs-Writing Workshops For and About Moms.
Linda spent over 30 years writing advertising copy in NYC. Her big claim to fame was a CLIO for “My Girdle is Killing Me.” She worked for at least seven different agencies on more than 50 different accounts from Excedrin to Ocean Spray. She lives in Black Rock, CT.

Tell me about your book.

Bovary, literature's greatest dreamer and worst mother?

What you may remember about Madame Bovary is that after being betrayed by one lover after another, she drove her devoted husband into bankruptcy and finally took her own life.

Who even remembers she had a daughter?

What ever happened to the only, lonely daughter of the scandalous Madame Bovary?

Poor Berthe Bovary.

She was neglected, unloved, orphaned and sold into servitude before the age of 13. Worst of all, she was the most insignificant and ignored character in that great classic novel.

But in Madame Bovary’s Daughter we see how Berthe used the lessons she learned from her faithless, feckless, materialistic mother to overcome extreme adversity and yes, triumph in the end.

As a young girl Berthe becomes a model for Jean Francois Millet, later a friend to a young German named Levi Strauss and finally a business associate of Charles Frederick Worth, the world’s first courtier.

This is a Sex and the Cité tale of a beautiful woman who goes from rags to riches, from rough muslin to highly profitable denim, from sackcloth to satin, from bed to business,

Busy as she is, she still has time to wreak revenge on the one man who broke her mother’s heart. And to have her own heart broken as well.

From her grandmother’s farm, to the cotton mills to the rich society of Paris, it is a constant struggle to not repeat her mother’s mistakes. She is determined not to end up “like mother, like daughter”.

Berthe Bovary is a Victorian forerunner of the modern self-made woman.

What will readers like about your book?

For Flaubert fans, I think they’ll like the fact that I’ve taken up the cause of the most neglected character in any of his books and given her a wonderful and exciting life. For readers who are unfamiliar with Madame Bovary, there’s lots of historical detail, lots of fashion of the times, and lots and lots of drama and romance. Anyone who is interested in France, in the Victorian period, in famous French artists and in Paris as the fashion capital of the world will like this book.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

My daughter Charlotte, to whom the book is dedicated.
When I encountered the novel Madame
Bovary for the first time in my early twenties thought: how sad, how
tragic. Poor, poor Emma Bovary. Her husband was a bore, she was desperately in love with another man (make that two men), and she
craved another life, one that she could never afford (I perhaps
saw a parallel to my own life here). Finally, tragically, she committed
suicide. It took her almost a week of agony to die from
the arsenic she’d ingested.

But twenty- five years later and as the mother of a very cherished
daughter, I reread Madame Bovary. And now I had a different
take altogether: What was this woman thinking? What
kind of wife would repeatedly cheat on her hardworking husband
and spend all her family’s money on a lavish wardrobe for
herself and gifts for her man of the moment; most important of
all, what kind of mother was she?

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first poem in the third grade. It was something about Halloween. And every line rhymed. The next writing I did was for a Junior National Scholastic short story competition in the 4th grade. (It was the story of a sardine who gets separated from his family.) I won first prize. (A $25 savings bond) My mother typed the story for me and I always had the sneaking suspicion that she re-wrote it and that’s why I won a prize. The next year I also won a prize in the same contest. Still, I believed it was my mother’s typing that somehow elevated my writing to a prize-winning level.

When did you realize you were a serious writer?

I remember undergoing fertility tests in my 30’s and finding out that I couldn’t have children. At that point in time, I thought, if I can’t have a baby, I’ll have a book. I am very grateful that I ended up with both.

When did you decide you wanted to write a book?

My first long project was a collaboration I had with my friend Roberto Mitrotti. We wrote a film, “The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud”. I realized then that a screenplay was never your own. When you finished it you handed it over to a producer, a director a whole slew of people who were able to change whatever they didn’t like. So I wanted to write something that I could feel a real sense of ownership about. A book was the logical next step.

Why did you choose this particular genre to write your book in?

My first two novels were fairly autobiographical. I have plumbed the depths of my life and there’s nothing left that’s particularly interesting to write about. Historical fiction opens up a whole new world of far more fascinating people and times. I love doing the research. History was never one of my strong suits and now I feel like I have a wonderful opportunity to go back and re-learn.

What is your writing process?

Oh, if only I could call it a “process”. It’s so much more of helter-skelter operation. I stare at the computer. I get up. I water the plants. I go back to the computer. I read my email. I throw out the plants that have died from over-watering. You know the drill. Anyone who has ever written will recognize this routine. But seriously, first I have an outline, just broad strokes of what the story is and where I want to end up. With historical fiction, many times, my research will affect the plot and the characters. I’ll suddenly come across someone who is so fascinating that they end up in the book. That’s what happened with Charles Frederick Worth in my novel. He literally jumped out of the pages of history and took over my story.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?

It took about two years. But that was with the “writing process” as described earlier.

Why did you publish on Kindle and other eReaders?

Until about six months ago I wouldn’t have touched a kindle with the tip of my pinky. Now I’m a complete convert. It is the future of books. I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad. I can tell you, however that I’ve purchased more books in the last six months than I have in the last six years. And, I’ve read them all.

What kind of advice would you like to share with an aspiring writer who’s looking to publish a book for the first time?

The only and best advice is keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.
The only difference between books that get published and books that don’t is one person sticks with it and the other one doesn’t. Also make friends with other writers, read their bogs, get involved with supporting their efforts. You need it and they need it. Form a writer’s group of fellow writers. Don’t hide out in your writing. Don’t wait until you think it’s perfect to show it to someone. And, don’t, I repeat, don’t give up!

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