Today, I have the lovely Ariel Lawhon stopping by to talk a bit at Traveling With T. Ever look at someone and think “How does she do it all?” Ariel is one of those people. She writes, she is one the creative geniuses behind She Reads, she has 4 kids and she’s a force to be reckoned with on social media. Ariel inspires me daily.
Ariel’s debut novel, THE WIFE, THE MAID and THE MISTRESS (read my review here) has book lovers all a-twitter! Political corruption, scandal, showgirls, and a missing judge- plus 3 women who all have their own reasons for keeping what they know about the judge secret- book clubs, you have met your next book (you’re welcome!)
Since I could go on and on about the book and Ariel, I’ll stop and let you, the readers of Traveling With T, see why she is the cat’s pajamas.
Interview with Ariel Lawhon
Ariel- thank you for agreeing to be interviewed!
AL: My absolute pleasure! Anything for you.
Ariel, what was the inspiration for The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress?
AL: I’d never heard of Joseph Crater until I read an article about him in The New York Post nine years ago. I didn’t know that his disappearance was the biggest missing person’s case of the twentieth century or that he was a household name for almost fifty years. It was so fascinating. But in all of that, what intrigued me most was his wife Stella, and her strange yearly ritual. Starting on the first anniversary of her husband’s disappearance, she would go to a bar in Greenwich Village and order two drinks. She’d raise one in salute, “Good luck, Joe, wherever you are!” Then she’d drink it and walk out of the bar, leaving the other untouched on the table. She did this every year for thirty-nine years. After reading that article Stella Crater took up permanent residence in my mind. I’d close my eyes and she’d be there, in that corner booth, a glass of whiskey in her hand, practically daring me to tell her story. So I did.
The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress is set in the 1930’s- what is it about this time period that sparked creativity for you as a writer?
AL: It wasn’t so much the time period that sparked my interest and creativity as the unsolved-mystery surrounding Judge Crater’s disappearance. How does a New York State Supreme Court Judge simply vanish? No body. No suspects. Nothing. Golly, that’s irresistible for a writer. And the fact that it all actually happened during the Jazz Age—one of the most glamorous and gritty time periods in history? Sold.
Ariel- how do you create characters? Are the characters based on people you know?
AL: I am drawn to stories about real people, real moments in history so my characters already exist. My job is to understand why they did the things they did. To make them real and vivid so that their stories take on new life.
When writing The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress- did you know how it would end? Or did the ending reveal itself as you were writing?
AL: A little of both, actually. I knew how the overall story would end—especially the final twist. But the smaller resolutions leading up to that were a surprise. It’s always fun to have that element of surprise when you’re writing. It keeps you engaged and present in the story.
Ariel, you and Marybeth Whalen (The Wishing Tree) are co-creators of She Reads- an online book club for women. How do you find time to write, to pick books for She Reads, and for your family? Is the wife/mother vs author role hard to manage? Do you have advice for women struggling with work and family?
AL: Such a great question! And I’d like to say that I have a system in place but I don’t. I do, however, have a very supportive husband who is really good about sending me off to write. I’ve learned to throw myself into work when white space appears on the calendar. And I’ve learned to shut my laptop when one of my boys boy asks me to scratch his back or read him a story. Three of my kids are in school these days and one hasn’t started. So I’m still very much in twenty-four-seven parenting mode. The thing I try to remember when the balancing acts starts to feel overwhelming is that there will never be a convenient time to do and of this—writing or She Reads. Life will always get in the way. So I just have to show up each day and do what I can.
How long did The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress take to write?
AL:It was technically seven years from that first “aha!” moment to a finished manuscript. But in truth most of that time was spent thinking and researching (due in large part to the arrival of three small people into our family). I’d say the actual writing of Wife Maid Mistress took about a year and half.
Any ideas as to what the next book will be about, Ariel?
AL: I am knee deep in my next novel and hope to have it finished soon. It is tentatively called THE FAINT OF HEART and is based on the true story of a midwife in 18th century New England who became the key witness in a rape trial that unhinged a small community. It’s dark and gritty and hopeful and I spend most of my time amazed that this story I’m unraveling actually happened.
Want to learn more about Ariel? Visit her website– where she has featured all the various social media she can be found having fun on!
*Special thanks to Ariel Lawhon for finding time for this interview!
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T