Thursday, April 15, 2010

Author Interview and Giveaway with Libby Malin (My Own Personal Soap Opera)

Please welcome Libby Malin, Author of My Own Personal Soap Opera (April 2010 - Sourcebooks) to My Reading Room - she is joining us today for an interview.

  1. How did you celebrate when you received the first call that you would be published?
That’s a terrific question! My first book was a YA mystery published by a small press. I remember being very, very happy about it, but I don’t remember what we did to celebrate. The next book was my Red Dress Ink novel, Loves Me, Loves Me Not. I think I got the call for that around my birthday that year. And I believe I was in a kind of haze. I’m sure hubby and I opened a bottle of wine that night. And later, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law bought champagne when we visited them next.

  1. Was it just as exciting to see your newest book, My Own Personal Soap Opera published?
Absolutely! In fact, in many ways I think the excitement is more satisfying after you get past that first book. You know what to expect—the joys as well as the disappointments—so you’re more able to appreciate the highs.

  1. Without giving anything away - what is My Own Personal Soap Opera about?
MOPSO (don’t you love that acronym?) tells the tale of soap head writer Frankie McNally who uses her show as her own personal message board to the world. She has to deal with one crisis after another—a leading man who broke his leg on Dancing with the Stars, staff members who all want to be doing something else, abysmal ratings, and a jewel thief imitating one on the show itself. Oh, and she has two men after her heart—one who can give her everything she wants and the other who can give her everything she needs.

Crystal:  It's funny, I never thought a thing about the soap opera writers until I started reading this book - but you are right - they have a lot to contend with to bring their stories to life.

  1. Where did the idea for My Own Personal Soap Opera come from?
I’m a fan of soaps – Days of Our Lives, in particular, but also Another World when it was on. When I watched them, I often wondered what challenges the writers had to deal with—actor contracts running out, ratings, staff writers, etc. I always wondered how those things had an impact on the actual stories playing out on the small screen.

  1. Do you think My Own Personal Soap Opera appeals to readers of a certain genre (or genres) or do you think anyone can pretty much pick it up and enjoy it?
I think it’s definitely humorous women’s fiction and will appeal mostly to women! But I received a real rave review of my 2009 release, Fire Me, from a man, so MOPSO could have similar appeal. I hope so. I hope it appeals to bajillions of readers! LOL!

  1. Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?
I’m a minimalist planner. I do think through where I want the story to go, and I might jot down some bullet points to that effect. Then I just write. MOPSO was sold on proposal, which means I had written several chapters plus a very detailed synopsis. I used the synopsis, of course, as my road map when I finished writing the novel. But sometimes I might deviate from it if the characters take me down a different path.

  1. Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
More excellent questions! I do not get to read as much as I’d like. I don’t like to read too much when I’m writing because I don’t want to be influenced by another writer. So I always feel like I’m playing “catch up” after I finish a project. I often read outside my genre. I like funny books—I adore Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. But I also like soulful reads. I enjoyed reading The Help recently. And I have heartily recommended Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, a very touching and inspirational book.

  1. What is your favorite room in your house?
Oh, my living room. It’s very bright, with lots of windows. In the spring, a forsythia blooms right outside one of the windows, and it often feels as if a bright yellow light shines there.

  1. What is your favorite spot to read in?
The living room, with the windows open and a soft breeze blowing, on a Sunday afternoon.

  1. What is your favorite snack food?
Milk chocolate. Yum, yum.

  1. What is your favorite season?
Spring. It’s a time of new beginnings.

  1. Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
I’m most creative in the morning, so that’s my best writing time when working on a project.

  1. I saw on your website that you use to watch Another World, I loved that one when I was growing up and hated to see it canceled (my mom and I often watched it together and my cousin and I use to discuss it in letters to each other).  Who was your favorite character on Another World?
Frankie Frame! That’s why I named the protagonist in MOPSO “Frankie.”  Frankie Frame was a quirky, intelligent, sweet individual. 

Crystal:  I loved Frankie also, she was just so fun, and Cass and Vicky and Marly and Jake, Rachel, oh - I loved them all :)  I also noticed other soap opera names in your book (I have started it) - Kayla, Victor were two of the others that made me smile.

  1. Did you find writing My Own Personal Soap Opera to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?
Every book has its problem spots and MOPSO was no different. A few times I stopped and wondered where this character or that one was taking me. And I did go back and redo some scenes, changing the timeline.

  1. Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?
If you check the “events” section of my website, you can find links to the various blog appearances I’ve made and am making on my “virtual book tour.” After today, I’ll be at on April 20, on April 21, at on April 28 and on the Casablanca Authors blog ( on April 29. Sometimes appearances are added at the last minute, so it’s best to check my website – – for the schedule. I did a book signing here in Lancaster, PA this past weekend, but might be doing one in White Marsh, Maryland soon.

  1. Do you have a new book in the works?
Yes—I’m working a couple projects. One is another humorous women’s fiction tentatively called Wrong Place, Right Time about a college professor who, on a dare, stops a wedding. Only problem is it’s the wrong wedding, and the bride, who was having misgivings about her groom, ends up leaving the altar. Both bride and prof end up in legal hot water when the groom sues for breach of contract and tortuous interference with a contract, and things get zanier and zanier with countersuits. I do a lot of lampooning of academe in this book, which was loads of fun. I’m also working on some serious women’s fiction about a mother-daughter relationship and even an inspirational, a historical set on the Oregon Trail. None of these are under contract as of this writing.

Crystal:  Good luck with both of them - they sound great, especially Wrong Place, Right Time.

  1. Anything else you would like to say?
First, thanks for having me as a guest. These promotional opportunities mean a lot to authors, upon whom the burden of book promotion falls. Speaking for my sister authors, I’d also like to encourage readers to actually . . . buy the book. Authors can only keep selling manuscripts to their publishers if readers are buying their books. So if you like an author – it doesn’t have to be me! – buy his or her work to keep or give away as a gift.

Is life stranger than fiction, or vice versa?

Frankie McNally has found the perfect solution for life’s perplexing problems: as head writer for the daytime soap Lust for Life, she works them out on the air!

Meanwhile, Frankie’s being courted simultaneously by the dashing older man sent in to save the show’s sagging ratings and by the soap’s totally hot leading man. And just when Frankie thinks the plot couldn’t get more complicated, a jewel thief starts copying the show’s storyline-a development that could send the show’s ratings soaring, if it doesn’t get Frankie arrested first...

In her signature blending of the hilarious with the poignant, Libby Malin’s latest light-hearted novel combines the best of life and of fiction into an entertaining and incredibly satisfying read.

Libby Malin is published in women’s fiction, including the books Fire Me, My Own Personal Soap Opera and Loves Me, Loves Me Not. Writing as Libby Sternberg, she is also an Edgar nominated YA mystery writer. As Libby Sternberg, she has an adult historical mystery offered exclusively on Kindle called Death Is the Cool Night. Her first print adult historical, Sloane Hall (inspired by Jane Eyre and set in old Hollywood), will be released in September.

Libby has worked in public relations, as an education reform advocate, and was a member of the Vermont Commission on Women. She is the proud mother of three children and lives with her wonderful husband in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information please visit or her blog, You can drop her a note at if you’d like to be put on her email list. Also, you can friend her on Facebook at Libby Malin Sternberg.

Thank you again to Libby Malin for allowing me to interview her today and thanks to Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks for my ARC of My Own Personal Soap Opera and coordinating this interview.


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Giveaway open to US/Canada only.  Open through 4/22. 

Review of My Own Personal Soap Opera will be coming in the next few days.