How I love this desk—a six feet tall secretary that I’ve had since 2002, the year my son was born. The actual desk part is very narrow—just fits my small laptop and ever present mug of Earl Grey tea, but it’s my favorite place to write. I like glancing up from writing when I’m stuck in a scene and seeing all my treasures—pictures of my son, a mug he made me at the “paint your own pottery ” place, my novel, The Meryl Streep Movie Club, in the North American and U.K. editions, a stack of books that always help me if I need inspiration: stories and essays by Pam Houston and two writing books, Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King. I have a couple of pretty little lamps and a very tall tin cat that for some reason spurs my creativity. This desk is wedged between the wall next to a window and my couch in my living room. I could make a separate office out of a big spare area in my laundry room, but I love my living room and feel happiest and most inspired in that room, so it’s where I write.
Tag Archives | Mia March
When my novel, THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB was published this past June, my ten year old son looked at the cover and said, “Who’s Meryl Streep? ”
I explained that Meryl Streep is the gifted actress who voiced Mrs. Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox, which we’d recently watched, and his face lit up. I wanted to tell him more, about what an impact Meryl Streep has had on me, on our family, but I left it at, “She’s been my favorite actress since I saw an important movie called Sophie’s Choice when I was sixteen with your grandmother and great grandmother. ” Meryl Streep’s incredible performance in Sophie’s Choice stayed with me a long time.
But it was another movie night, years later, with my mother and grandmother that inspired THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB. One Thanksgiving, when my mother and grandmother weren’t getting along (they were arguing over whether to add garlic to the mashed potatoes and who said what twenty years ago), we sat down to watch The Bridges of Madison County after dinner. The discussion the movie led to changed everything that night: we talked openly about the film, how we felt about Meryl Streep’s character’s choices—and why. Instead of sniping and arguing, we were talking, revealing, sharing. The night ended in hugs instead of humphs and closed doors. A movie did this.
Flash forward to six years ago, when I was going through my divorce and had a Meryl Streep movie marathon on my couch with tissues and popcorn. Touching, funny Heartburn and Defending Your Life made me laugh for the first time in months. The Bridges of Madison County made me think and reminded me of that Thanksgiving years ago. After Out of Africa, my favorite Meryl Streep movie, I got up off the couch, went to my desk and wrote the words: Chapter One, and started a novel about a fractured family of women who reunite at an old family inn in Maine and how movie night in the parlor brings them back together through watching and discussing Meryl Streep films.
One day, when my son is much older, I’ll share all this (or maybe not). What he does know, even at ten, is how powerful movies—visual stories—are, how they move us, make us laugh, cry, think. My novel is a tribute to the power and magic of movies, to how movies bring people together, to the gift Meryl Streep has given us all these decades. If you have a chance to read The Meryl Streep Movie Club, I hope you enjoy it.
Ever wonder what authors listen to while they write? Now’s your chance to find out! This month’s featured author, Mia March, shares her much-loved playlist:
I could not write a word of THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB unless either one of two particular albums were playing. So I put them on repeat, and these beautiful songs, these beautiful, unique voices, would bring me right back into the story, into the characters’ worlds and issues:
21 by Adele: If you’re not familiar with Adele, you’ve definitely heard Rolling in the Deep, which I’ll never get tired of, and Someone Like You. Rumor Has It and maybe Set Fire To The Rain. Adele’s gorgeous, powerful, soulful, real voice, singing these terrific songs about love, heartbreak, and personal power. Right now my favorite songs are Turning Tables and One and Only, but every song, EVERY song, is amazing. A little tidbit that makes me laugh every time I think about: at my son’s day camp this summer, there was a little boy named Rueben, and every time the counselors blasted the song Rumor Has It, little Rueben, all of five, would sing the chorus as: “Ooh, Rueben has it . . . Ooh, Rueben has it ” and everyone joined in.
White Ladder by David Gray: When I was in grad school in New York City in 2000/2001, I went to the same coffee shop every day, where the staff was in love with this album and played it over and over. I always sat at the huge 8 person table near the electrical outlets where the laptoppers—writers, students, photographers, freelancers—worked with their coffees and treats. Very often a guy would sit down at the table with his laptop and we got to talking, then dating, then marrying . . . then divorcing. Such is the greatness, the spirit, the emotional power, of this album that I still can listen to it, be moved by it, write to it. Love, loss, hope. Each song is more beautiful than the next. You’ve likely heard Babylon, which used to be on the radio all the time: If you want it, come and get it, for crying out loud. The song Silver Lining gives me goosebumps:
Take the silver lining
Keep it in your own sweet hand
Then shine it when the light is burning red
Shine it in the twilight
Shine it on the cold cold ground
Shine it till these walls come tumbling down
Also, there’s one song that I listened to over and over during the timeframe I wrote The Meryl Streep Movie Club, except I listened to it while NOT writing—meaning, I’d play it in my car or during my three mile thinking walk or while doing the dishes, those times when a writer is doing her “magic writing ” in her head: Coming Around Again by Carly Simon, from the movie Heartburn, one of my favorites. This is the book’s theme song. I know nothing stays the same, but if you’re willing to play the game, it’s coming around again . . .
September catches me by surprise every year. It’s as though one minute I’m splashing with my kids in the pool and the next I’m standing in the aisle at Target looking at a half-empty shelf of school supplies. It comes so quickly and I’m never quite ready for it. And even though it still feels like summer in my part of the country (temperatures were over one hundred degrees today) my mood shifts toward fall. I think of falling leaves and sweaters and finally being able to wear jeans again. I think of curling up on the couch with my pumpkin-spice coffee and reading. Which of course brings us to this month’s book club selection: THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB.
Like many people I grew up watching Meryl Streep. She embodies everything that is good about Hollywood and everything that is noble about storytelling. I was young (probably too young, actually) when I first saw Sophie’s Choice. And though I’ve watched Meryl in countless movies since, that is how I still see her in my mind. Beautiful and tragic and compelling. I can’t think of an actress I’d like to meet more. Thus my instant curiosity when I first heard about Mia March’s debut novel.
Mia’s publisher, Gallery Books, has kindly provided our prizes this month. The first is a tote bag filled with novels, including THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB, and a DVD of Out of Africa (Mia’s favorite Meryl Streep movie) to one person who leaves a comment on this post. (Perhaps tell us your favorite Meryl Streep Movie?) And a second tote bag filled with novels, also including THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB to one participant of our online book club. It’s free to join and there is no long term commitment. Every comment you leave on the forum will count as another entry to win. I hope to see you there as I’ll be leading the discussion again this month.
A bit more about the novel…
In the bestselling tradition of The Friday Night Knitting Club and The Jane Austen Book Club, three women find unexpected answers, happiness, and their way back to one another, with Meryl Streep movies as their inspiration.
Two sisters and the cousin they grew up with after a tragedy are summoned home to their family matriarch’s inn on the coast of Maine for a shocking announcement. Suddenly, Isabel, June, and Kat are sharing the attic bedroom—and barely speaking. But when innkeeper Lolly asks them to join her and the guests in the parlor for weekly Movie Night—it’s Meryl Streep month—they find themselves sharing secrets, talking long into the night—and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, love, and one another.
Each woman sees her complicated life reflected through the magic of cinema: Isabel’s husband is having an affair, and an old pact may keep her from what she wants most . . . June has promised her seven-year-old son that she will somehow find his father, who he’s never met . . . and Kat is ambivalent about accepting her lifelong best friend’s marriage proposal. Through everything, Lolly has always been there for them, and now Isabel, June, Kat—and Meryl—must be there for her. Finding themselves. Finding each other. Finding a happy ending.
Mia March lives with her family in a small village on the coast of Maine. THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB is her debut novel. Her next novel, FINDING COLIN FIRTH, will be published by Simon & Schuster in the summer of 2013.