There are people who give more than they take, and if anyone has noticed, that’s who I try to feature at LitPark. Ellen Meister is no doubt one of those people.
SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA is a story about friendship among suburban housewives whose hidden longings and disappointments are exposed when their children’s school is chosen as the location for the next George Clooney movie. The story is big-hearted and full of brilliant comedic timing.
Today, on Ellen Meister’s birthday, I give you an interview conducted by her eight-year-old daughter.
Have you ever been to a mental institution?
Don’t we live in one?
What’s your favorite color?
Whatever color you’re wearing.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Such a good question! Do you remember that it originally had a different title?
Yeah, but I want everyone else to know. So say what it was.
It was originally called GEORGE CLOONEY IS COMING TO APPLEWOOD, but the lawyers at my publishing company wouldn’t let me use that without getting George Clooney’s permission. I tried hard to get it, but failed. So I came up with a title I thought was kind of funny and ironic, SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA. Do you know what ironic means?
Not really. I’m 8 years old.
Ironic is like sarcastic. It’s when something is different from what you expect. Sometimes it’s used for humorous purposes.
How old are you? Oh, wait, that’s a question you told me never to ask.
What were you like as a child?
I remember crying a lot.
Were you ever happy?
I guess I was kind of like you…I was either very, very happy or very, very sad. I know I giggled a lot when I was with my cousin Cindy.
How would you like to spend the rest of your life as a frog?
What’s your favorite kind of mail?
Duh. What do you like better, ducks or bunnies?
I like ducks ”¦ with orange sauce.
Don’t tell me you eat bunnies, too!
When can I stop asking you these stupid questions?
Are you tried of this?
Sort of, kind of. I just want to watch [my brother] play video games.
How about just a few more questions?
Okey dokey. Who’s your favorite character in SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA?
Well, I really love all my characters. But I can tell you that the one who surprised me the most was Ruth, the wealthy “princess” type. She was supposed to symbolize the kind of women who troubled me the most in my life, but I wound up finding out that she has this huge, generous heart and so much pain. I didn’t know I could love her so much.
How many TV shows and/or radio stations have you been on?
To talk about my book? One TV show and one radio station so far.
What’s your favorite food?
Sadly, I really like meat. Meat of all kinds.
Did you keep a diary or a dream journal or something when you were a kid?
I kept a diary when I was in junior high. Mostly, I wrote about the boys I liked.
When did you first think about being an author?
When I was a senior in high school, a mean teacher made some kind comments on a fictional scene I had written for his class. When I saw what he wrote, something clicked. It just made sense to me at that point that I was meant to be a writer all along.
What was your old job, before you were a writer?
I wrote advertising copy and produced brochures. I had my own company at one
I know that your next book, THE SMART ONE, is something about three sisters and an industrial drum, but can you tell me more about it?
Sure. The main character is Bev, is a recently divorced woman who decided to go back to school to become a teacher. She’s at this crossroads in her life…just before leaving for a teaching job far away…when she and her sisters discover a dead body in an industrial drum, which had been beneath their next door neighbor’s house for over twenty years. This event throws Bev together with the son of the murderer, and she has to decide whether or not she loves him enough to give up her career plans. She also has to decide whether or not she wants to stay near her sisters, who she think don’t exactly appreciate her. I know it doesn’t sound very funny, but it is. At least I hope it is.
Can I ask more silly questions?
Will you ever write a book about a mermaid?
No, but I think you should.
If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
A dog, I guess. I think dogs are great.
Sue’s editorial aside: Some say that LitPark regular, Kenny, is every bit as cute as George Clooney.
So when this book goes to paperback, LitPark suggests (and will help secure permission for) the following title: KENNY IS COMING TO APPLEWOOD!
Myfanwy CollinsNovember 18, 2006
LOVE this interview! Ellen and her daughter are the perfect charming duo. Excellent questions and answers and the photos are precious.
Happy Birthday, Ellen! xoxo
Katrina DenzaNovember 18, 2006
Wonderful interview! Love the pictures!! So cute and Ellen’s daughter is brilliant!
Lance ReynaldNovember 18, 2006
Happy Birthday Ellen!!!
great interview!! put a much needed smile on my face. Awesome 8 year old ya have there!
PiaNovember 18, 2006
Acorn. Tree. Love it, Ellen. And Happy Birthday!
Robin PasternackNovember 18, 2006
Cute interview. Happy Birthday!
Your 8 year old has the potential to be a great interviewer. Now when will we read an interview given by Max?
Have a great day!
JordanNovember 18, 2006
I love that child! I’m one of the lucky ones who has met her in person…AND played Pictionary with her 🙂
Cousin CindyNovember 18, 2006
Happy Birthday, dear cuz! Where did you find these precious photos. I remember that “mink” stole! xoxo
Patricia ParkinsonNovember 18, 2006
I love this!!! and Happy Birthday Ellen..xoxox
Robin SlickNovember 18, 2006
Happy Birthday, Ellen! What an awesome interview and I know this Q&A with your daughter has got to be the greatest gift in the world.
Yep, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Emma, too, and she even sang a Beatle song to me in her adorable, raspy voice (that kid is going to be a siren…wait…she already is!)…then walked into the kitchen covered in post-it notes which we had to pluck off of her and read. She’s terrific and brilliant…just like her Mom.
Robin SlickNovember 18, 2006
P.S. Do either you or Susan EVER look bad in a photograph? Bah! I hate you both.
TerryNovember 18, 2006
Happy birthday. And nice… very nice… interview.
Ellen MeisterNovember 19, 2006
Myf, I guess I should fess up–I had to bribe my daughter to do this interview. She wanted something called a Webkinz. Apparently she was the only child on Long Island who didn’t have one.
Kat, thanks! I had fun finding pics to scan.
Lance, can’t argue with you about the awesome 8-year-old. Thanks!
Pia, yes, she’s a lot like me … only ten times as smart. 🙂
Robin P., I wonder if I could get Max to do it without a bribe …
Jordan, you got to see her in action!!!
Cindy, I was hoping you’d find your way here! I think the stole was chinchilla. Hehe.
Patricia, thank you, sweetie! So glad you stopped in
Robin S., I have plenty of bad pictures. I just don’t publish them. And so glad digital photography arrived the same time as my wrinkles …
Terry, thanks! And what an amazing job you with this blog.
Sue, what can I say but thanks. You’re the best.
Ellen MeisterNovember 19, 2006
And I forgot to say …
Kenny happens to be the name of the love interest in the novel I’m working on now! So perhaps I’ll use your adorable Kenny as my muse.
LaurenBaratz-LogstedNovember 19, 2006
Happy Birthday, Ellen!
Carolyn Burns BassNovember 19, 2006
Happy birthday to the beautiful Ellen and snaps to darling Emma.
I’ve just added another book to my “must read” list. Sounds like a hoot.
(Several years ago the moms of my kid’s school went atwitter when Tom Cruise and his pals came out to shoot pidgeons at the farm of one of the kids.)
Cousin SusanNovember 20, 2006
Loved this interview and all the family photos! Emma is adorable as usual (even if you did have to bribe her to do the interview) – she’s smart like her mom! Happy Birthday, Ellen!
Shelley MarlowNovember 20, 2006
Very charming interview! Happy Birthday, Ellen.
Susan HendersonNovember 20, 2006
Myfanwy – They have that comedic banter down. I think they’re due for a radio show.
Katrina – Aren’t they great photos?
Lance – I think lots would say the same about you …about the smiles.
Pia – Hi Pia! xo
Robin P – Welcome to LitPark!
Jordan – And I’m happy to say I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this wee interviewer have a not-so-wee meltdown, which I take as a sign of trust, and it makes me love her all the more.
Cousin Cindy – Ellen, I love your cousins! Glad to have you here, Cindy!
Patricia – Thanks for adding to Ellen’s day!
Robin – You do not hate us. You’re just mad you can’t edit your comments.
Terry – I agree with Ellen about you being the superstar of LitPark, keeping everything running and all pretty.
Ellen – Just don’t put Kenny in an industrial drum. He’d be very traumatized.
Lauren – I just (finally!!!) got to your email in my endless stack and will answer it in minutes.
Carolyn – It is definitely a hoot. Mr. Henderson, all proper and British boarding school bred, often teases me for my Virginia-isms, but if I were to write a blurb for this book, it would say, “This book sure is a hoot and a half!”
Cousin Susan – This is so sweet to see how much Ellen’s cousins love her. Thanks for dropping by, Susan!
Shelley – I think some folks are trying to get in touch with you regarding a LitPark project about mothers. You might want to check your spam filter.
KennNovember 20, 2006
Though I’ve not heard anyone other than our mutual friend raise the comparison of myself to George C (the “looney” left out to reduce the risk of a lawsuit), for the as yet barely recognized Kenn’s everywhere…. I humbly 2nd the motion to include the name Kenny in the title!
Ellen MeisterNovember 21, 2006
Lauran, thanks for the birthday wishes!
Carolyn, thanks … and I hope you like the book.
Cousin Susan, I do have the best cousins. Glad you dropped in.
Shelly, thanks so much.
Kenny, I wonder if the lawyers would make me get your permission in writing.
Susan H … thank you again. This was a blast!
Pamela ErensDecember 6, 2006
So fun! Bravo, Ellen (and Ellen’s daughter)!