Firstly, Mary, I want to congratulate you on the success of your debut novel! I loved the read—laughing, getting to know the characters, and occasionally having to excuse myself for a little “me time.” Your sex scenes are killer, mama.
MM: Well thanks, lady! I hope that “me time” worked out because if people are having orgasms while reading my book, I win the Pulitzer, right? RIGHT??
A well-earned Pulitzer, yes! Can you dish a bit about the story to my readers? In a nutshell, without giving anything away, of course, tell them what your book is about.
MM: The Scarlet Letter Society centers around a group of three women, all having extramarital affairs, who secretly meet monthly in a coffee shop to discuss their love lives. They start a book club reading books throughout time written about adultery, including of course The Scarlet Letter. (Blah blah blah hot sex.)
With this being a fairly sensitive topic for some, were you nervous at all, writing so candidly about infidelity?
MM: I think some famous writer once said, “Write like no one’s reading.” And if someone didn’t say that, they should have. When I wrote the book in 2012, I had no idea I would get a literary agent and publisher, and that the idea would actually grow up to be a real book someday. If I had been thinking, “What will everyone think?” when I wrote it, I’m sure it would all have turned out differently.
I’ll be cliché and ask what first inspired the story.
MM: Over time, I have known women who, for various reasons, have lovers outside their marriages. I spoke to a number of women about these issues, and I read all of the books about adultery that the characters read in the novel. I was interested in the bonds women form with one another when they are experiencing extramarital affairs, and in the stigma that our society places on these women even today.
As an author, myself, I find sex scenes to be particularly enjoyable to write … sometimes distractingly so. How much fun did you have writing this book?
MM: I love writing sex scenes. Writing sex scenes is hot! I (as you so eloquently put it) have to “excuse myself” from writing sometimes to cool off. But that may just be the hot flashes talking.
What deeper meaning are you hoping your readers will take away from the theme?
MM: The double standard in our society of acceptance that “boys will be boys” and men have affairs versus the slut-shaming “women are whores if they cheat” has got to go. Our society tends to consist of a faux-puritanical façade where we pretend to be innocent on the surface, but a lot is going on below that surface. My book addresses the elephant in the living room of infidelity and looks at women’s perspectives on their own sexual empowerment.
A lot of people feel that a lifetime of monogamy is unnatural for a human. I, personally, feel we’re very similar to the animal kingdom, in that you have some species that instinctively mate for life—your penguins, your lobsters—and many others that don’t, simply because of their nature—your lions, tigers, and bears, OH MY! In other words, some people thrive being monogamous, and some don’t. What are your thoughts on this?
MM: I had no idea that lobsters mate for life, and now I feel guilty drenching them in butter and eating them. (I’m still going to eat them). I agree with you. Some people are naturally monogamous, and for some other people, that comes as a challenge and may or may not be overcome. We can all think of people in our lives who are examples of – um, penguins versus say dolphins, who sleep with everybody.
Dolphins—the sluts of the aquatic world… I think I see a new novel on the horizon. But while that’s baking, I’ll move on.
I sense a shift in power taking place on our planet—the rise of the goddess, I call it. Among other things, I feel women are being called to take more responsibility for the power of their sexuality. To own it instead of being objectified by it, despite the veritable orgasm of conflicting messages fed to us by the media. Would you agree or dis?
MM: “The Rise of the Goddess” would be an awesome name for a rock band or slutty romance novel or wine brand or chocolate bar and I’m in for all of it. Yes, women have always been in power and men have always worked really hard to try to take that power away and then pretended to be successful at it in male-dominated media. But we as women continue to roll our eyes, know we are in power, and carry on having careers and raising children. Didn’t the Holy Grail in the Dan Brown book turn out to be a vagina? I may be getting that wrong. But yes, we own the Holy Grail, we have the power.
I was thinking “The Rise of the Goddess” would be a great name for personal lubricant, but chocolate works too. Moving on, as a mother, what important things do you want your kids to know about relationships and commitment?
MM: I want my kids to know that being true to yourself is just as important as being true to someone in a relationship, but that ultimately love should always prevail because there’s nothing truer, more real, or more meaningful than love.
Agreed, and well said. So what’s next for you, Mary? Any new writing goals or projects you’d care to tease us with?
MM: My second novel The Scarlet Letter Scandal, arrives in November and is available for pre-order on Amazon . When I saw the cover for it, I noticed it had a whip on it. There was no whip in the book. So like a Starbucks barista, I asked the publisher if he’d like me to “add whip?” It wasn’t hard to do in this one particular scene…
I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for a little added whip. Just sayin’…
In closing, I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your oh-so-clever novel, Mary. Again, congratulations on your literary success! Here’s your opportunity for sales, so tell my readers your website information and where your book is available to buy.
MM: Thank you so much for your time! I would absolutely love for your readers to check out The Scarlet Letter Society . Here’s a list of upcoming book signing appearances – I’d love to sign a book for you! Also I’m giving out Pop Rocks at events, because they hold a special place in a central scene in the book. Readers can check out my blog Pajamas and Coffee or follow me on Twitter , Facebook , Instagram or Pinterest . Thanks again for your support. Cheers!