Beth_Ann_BaumanBeth Ann Bauman writes about women and girls with humor, grace, insight, and unflinching honesty. Her three books mostly take place at the Jersey shore, where we meet a diverse cast of compelling female characters. Beth’s latest novel, Jersey Angel, is about 17-year-old Angel Cassonetti, who is so spot-on that it’s hard to believe she doesn’t really exist. Jersey Angel received high praise from the New York Times, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and other publications. Here are six sex questions for the irrepressible Beth Ann Bauman….

 

In October 2009, TNB contributor Matt Baldwin emailed me to say that a good friend of his from college, another writer, was moving to Portland and she and I may hit it off. Thus was my first introduction to Jen Violi, who not only became my fast friend, but also became a great source of inspiration for my own writing.  Jen is one of the most hilarious and loving people I’ve ever met in my life, and she approaches writing from this angle as well, which I discovered when I had the pleasure of attending one of her workshops. (Jen also offers writing coaching and sundry other services related to writing. She’s one of those mythical beasts who actually butters her bread through writing.)

On May 24 of this year, Jen’s first novel, Putting Makeup on Dead People, was released. Putting Makeup on Dead People follows Donna Parisi, a young woman on the brink of her high school graduation.  Donna is a girl many young woman can relate to, even those who haven’t lost a parent or who haven’t decided to rebel by attending mortuary college. She struggles with questions many of us faced or will face about the future – especially about what kind of person we ultimately want to become while trying to balance what our loved ones hope for us. Written with heart and great humor (there are many riotous moments in this book), Putting Makeup on Dead People takes the reader on a slow walk through the twilight days of high school, and into the dawn of adulthood.

Chapter 1

I am high.

“I—” My voice catches. I cannot string together a whole sentence. My eyes open. I’ve been deposited in the back of my parents’ black Mercedes. I look at the dashboard clock. Where did the last forty-five minutes go? Beyond the windshield, gates swing open. The car rolls forward. I turn: I want a parting shot. Through the back window, I see twenty-foot walls lined with electrified barbed wire.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?  “Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl / With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there / She would merengue and do the cha-cha …”

When I moved to L.A., people were selling spec screenplays at auction for millions of dollars. I planned on doing the same thing, and retire in three years (five seemed way too long.) That didn’t work out and I fell into journalism the way other people step into a puddle — or, as it turned out, dog poo.

Meaning, I worked in Hollywood, ate buckets of jelly beans while seeing a staggering number of free movies (screenings), going to parties and premieres that I’d forget before I got home, and breaking stories. Like, Botox. I knew my days were numbered the year I dreaded the prospect of another Academy Awards. Undiagnosed, I was suffering from Red Carpet Weekly Burn-Out.

Fortunately, I’d started writing my first novel and continued that project while working as a journalist.  That first novel was supposed to parachute me out of journalism the way screenwriting was supposed to buy my Italian Villa. Silly me, I thought there was money in novel writing. It was a total shock when I realized, five hundred agent rejections later, that I wasn’t the next Jacqueline Susann (or, even, Sidney Sheldon – and he evaded the I.R.S. on yachts.)

Take a look at this detailed photo of North America taken from outer space. Look at California. What do you see?

You don’t see San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego. You don’t see Disneyland or a giant sequoia named General Sherman. You see a big bowl. A trough, really.