The term financial crisis can conjure many mental images -- from a foreclosure sign to a job fair to a Bernie Madoff-type crook being led away in handcuffs for committing who-knows-what kind of scam -- and in Mary A. Ellenton's debut novel, Flipping, which is scheduled for a May 15 release, readers will find a most unexpected financial criminal: a woman.
Fay Famaghetti, a wife and mom, lands herself on a career path far more glamorous than working at her family's Italian restaurant. She gets involved in the mortgage business, and quickly becomes tempted by all the goodies of a troubled industry.
In an interview with International Business Times, Ellenton talked about writing a naughty female protagonist, getting that naughty female protagonist into trouble, and the pitfalls of publishing.
What have you done prior to writing this book?
I'm a personal trainer. I've been doing this for about 15 years. I started off by giving racquetball lessons and it grew into a training business. That's been pretty much paying the bills for the last 15 years.
Did you do any writing before Flipping?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I wrote a young adult novel about eight years ago. I shopped it around and couldn't find a home for it. I had a weekly fitness article in the local paper, the Five Towns Forum, for a few years until they folded. I also do a lot of ad work. My family has a catering business and I do all the copy work for that.
Your protagonist, Fay Famaghetti, is not your typical financial crook.
I knew I wanted it to be a female character. I wanted her to be strong -- a contemporary, urban professional type. I needed her to have a profession she could get into trouble with. I thought this would also be a good time to make Fay a mortgage broker. I was able to get information from people in the industry. They were very generous with their knowledge.
When we think of financial greed we often think of a Gordon Gekko type of person. Is this an apt comparison?
Yes, she's a Gordon Gekko-type, but imagine that persona in a female. It's not taken well. She stands out more. Part of my objective in writing this is to illustrate that. If you have an astute, driven female it's quite a scenario. She's got to think of her female persona. A lot of women can't do that. They wonder 'How is this going to look?' or 'How will it affect my kids and my family?' I don't think men have the concerns women do when it comes to getting ahead. If more women were able to turn off that female glitch, the world would be sprinkled with a lot more success stories.
How can readers access your book?
It will be available as an e-book and in bookstores.
And you've decided to self-publish.
I'm kind of green at this publishing industry. As you know, the literary publishing world is upside down on its head because of e-readers, so basically I'm navigating through this new territory. There's so much conflicting information on how to proceed. I've made my missteps and I'm learning along the way. Self-publishing is wonderful. There are many people like myself who want to get their work out there. You have to be very determined and very tenacious because there isn't a lot of help out there.
Did you try publishing the traditional way?
I sent out query letters and of course I have a collection of rejections. I think you really have to know someone in the business. Agents get 50 manuscripts a day and they have interns looking through them. I knew in my heart it was brutal. You go to the library and wonder 'How can this be published?' A lot of talented people out there have great stories that will never see a library shelf. It was futile for me, the traditional publishing.
Fay behaves quite badly -- in business and in the bedroom!
If it wasn't for women asking 'What would people think?' I think women would do a lot more things. I wrote Fay for someone to ask 'Am I being true to myself?' Which is not to say that I think you should be reckless, but I loved writing Fay because she does all the things that probably most of us want to but don't have the chutzpah to do it. She is a badass. She does what she wants and she's good at it.
Any other thoughts?
I want this book to inspire women. In spite of Fay's missteps you really have to admire her courage. There's a lot of pressure on women today. I think years ago if you got married and had children you were off the hook. Girls these days are in the same boat as men. Babies are something that will happen later on. I wrote this book to inspire females. That was my objective. You can do this. You do have all the tools. You just have to believe in yourself and get out there.