Monday, September 14, 2015

Talking Books with Morgan Malone, author of 'Cocktales: An After-50 Memoir'

My pen-name is Morgan Malone. A twist on the old “What is my stripper name? A combination of the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on: Dino Homestead. I opted instead for the name of my first cat and my hometown to create Morgan Malone, an erudite yet brazen hussy, who decided, after 15 years of widowhood, to see if there were any men in America (and parts of Canada) who wanted to have sex with a 50 year-old woman. At least that is what I told myself I was doing. Along my almost ten-year journey through the online dating sites, I discovered men who were just as unsure of their intentions as I was. As I flirted with them, met them and even slept with quite a few, I began peeling off the layers of my emotional armor with less reluctance than I was peeling off my carefully coordinated lingerie. I found some really nice men, some very sexy men, some real dogs and a handful of genuine human beings who became friends as well as lovers. And I started to find myself: not just a mom, a lawyer, a wife and a widow but a woman I did not recognize. Yet there she was: a woman I did not like at times, a woman I thought no man would ever love, a woman who spent the first part of her life being the woman she thought she must be, a woman who was facing the last third of her life, finally, with anticipation.

My adventures and misadventures were met with disbelief by my friends who were convinced, almost to a woman, that the only men interested in a woman of our years was nigh on to 80 and in need of “a nurse and a purse.” So Cocktales has become not only a chronicle of my personal journey from widow to woman, from alone to independent, from needy to satisfied, but an instruction manual for the thousands of women facing the last half of their lives lonely and lacking confidence.

I am a published author of Katarina: Out of Control, an erotic romance with shades of “grey.” In September, my country singer-feisty reporter erotic romance, Unanswered Prayers, will be released by Turquoise Morning Press. I belong to several romance writers groups, with an online membership of several hundred voracious readers, authors, reviewers and bloggers, many of whom encouraged me to write. My blog is read regularly by many of these readers and also the growing audience of listeners who have heard me read my mainstream essays on NPR’s “51%”, a nationally broadcast show directed at women, and also on “Roundtable”, a popular program heard on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio.

I have just turned 62. I live near Saratoga Springs, NY with my chocolate Labrador Retriever. We enjoy occasional visits from my daughter who is a clinical psychologist and my son who is works in internet college sports reporting in Seattle. I paint watercolors, swim as often as I can and still practice law in between writing romance and memoir.

Can you tell us what your book, Cocktales: An After-50 Memoir is about?

Cocktales: An After 50 Dating Memoir is the true story of my online dating adventures, during the decade of my 50’s. You will meet Ten Inch Tim, The Wine Critic, Dirty Ears, Cage Guy, Bob, Jamie and Tom, and a dozen other men. I dated some, rejected others and even fell in love. I’ve told their stories and mine, how I changed from an uncertain woman to a woman who knew what she wanted
and was comfortable with herself at last. Cocktales is funny, poignant and practical.

Why did you write your book?

I wrote Cocktales for other women like me. At 49 and a widow for almost 15 years, I thought no man would be interested in me. I was overweight, scarred, with not a few gray hairs. But I wanted to feel something again, even one more time. I went looking for lust and I found it, but I also found friendship, adventure, and love. We all have a second chance at love, if we are willing to take the leap.

What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?

My message is simple: follow your dream. Don’t allow society, family, friends to tell you who you are and what you can do. You can do anything. You can reinvent yourself, leave past mistakes behind you and move forward. You can find love, lust, companionship at 50, 60 or beyond. You can make your dream come true even if it has been deferred for decades. I was a lawyer for 30 years. I retired at 55 to follow my dream of writing. If I can change my life, anyone can.

Who influenced you to write your book?

The teacher of the memoir writing class I signed up for right after I retired. She is one of the best teachers I ever had, a talented writer in her own right and an unselfish mentor. She told me I could do it. And I finally believed her.

Is it hard to publish a nonfiction book?

My first experience with pitching a book was with a romance novel. Not many romance publishers are publishing nonfiction. It took some research to find a publisher who published both. Turquoise Morning Press was the perfect fit because they fell in love with Cocktales and then they wanted to see the romance novel I had written.

Which author(s) do you admire?

I admire all the mid-level authors who write beautifully crafted romance novels while still working a day job and who are still willing to mentor new authors. I admire Jane Juska who wrote a book years ago, Memoirs of a Round-Heeled Woman, which inspired me to try to find love online. I also admire Anne Lamott, Joyce Maynard and Cheryl Strayed for writing such powerful words.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I have a place in Lake Placid where the family gathers every year. It has a huge open downstairs so even when I am preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I can be a part of all the activities. And there is room for three generations of family and adopted family, because if you join us for Thanksgiving, you are family. The views of the Adirondack Mountains are breath-taking and the shops are very cool for Black Friday shopping.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

We’d go to Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs, NY. There is a great bakery attached to the store where we would drink pots of tea and eat quiche and the best cupcakes, while surrounded by books.

Can you tell us about your family?

I have two children. My daughter is a Clinical Psychologist who recently moved back to the area for a new position. My son is recently married and lives in Seattle, where he works for a start-up online college sports website. My daughter-in-law is finishing the clinical work for her nursing degree. And the current love of my life is a ten-year old chocolate lab named Marley.

What do you like the most about being an author?

I love being able to write and not to have to make excuses for the time I spend doing it. I love seeing the first copy of my newest book and holding it in my hands. But, most of all, I love talking to readers about my books, listening to their likes and dislikes and sharing stories.

What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?

Study memoir writing. Read other memoirs. Then write your story, your way. Don’t worry about who will publish it or who will read it. When your book is finished, find the best editor you can and do 98% of what she or he tells you to do to make your book better. Attend writing conferences where you can meet agents and editors and pitch your book. Don’t give up. And keep writing.

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