Here at the WP, we’re always excited to welcome new instructors to the fold. This summer, we’re pleased to announce that novelist and screenwriter, Lindsay Maracotta, will be joining our roster of esteemed instructors. Lindsay will be teaching Writing the Popular Novel this summer. She has published 11 books, including the novels The Producer’s Daughter (Crooked Lane Books, 2015) and The Dead Hollywood Moms Society, which was adapted into a Hallmark Channel movie. Her books have been translated into 17 languages, and include bestsellers in both hardcover and mass market paperback.

Read our fun interview below to learn more about Lindsay and her upcoming summer course.

Writers’ Program: Tell us three random, or unique facts about yourself.

Lindsay Maracotta: Fresh out of college, I worked as an assistant to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and my naked legs make a guest appearance in a short film they made called Up Your Legs Forever.

I own a minor stake in a Napa Valley winery, so you can ask me anything about pinot noir.

I reread books I love, dozens of times. These include some of the usual suspects: The Great Gatsby; Wuthering Heights, plus books whose heroines I particularly identify with: Mildred Lathbury in Excellent Women; Rachel Samstat in Heartburn, Emma Woodhouse in…well, Emma. But also books that really make me laugh. For instance, P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Bertie novels – I practically know them by heart!

WP: What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

LM: Typical writing day: Stagger out of bed. Drink two mugs of murky coffee while reading the NY Times and LA Times until it just seems like egregious procrastination. Steer myself into office. Turn off phone ringer. Stare out the window at palm tree until brain snaps on. Write anywhere from thirty minutes (bad day) to about four hours (if things are really clicking.) Grab some lunch, turn phone back on, check messages, respond to emails. Then maybe go back to work, usually to do some revision, though I’m more likely to just goof off for the rest of the afternoon.

WP: You’ve written several suspense novels such as The Producer’s Daughter and the three books in your Dead is the New Fabulous series. What drew you to this particular genre? What do you love about it?

LM: Love the puzzle-solving aspect of suspense. Also love that you can be particularly inventive with characters in this genre. I’m also drawn to it because I’m inclined to write satire, and that can be hard to sell — but throw in a body or two (or more) and an appealing sleuth as a main character, and you’re more likely to find a large readership. My Dead is the New Fabulous series (published originally as The Dead Hollywood Moms Society) worked exactly that way: I was able to write a laugh-out-loud comic novel skewering the rich and over-privileged of L.A. by having my heroine also solve juicy murders.

WP: I’m sure there are things you wish someone had told you about the publishing industry before you got started. What counsel would you give to writers who are just starting out on their journey?

LM: I think publishers have become more and more concerned with how a book can be marketed before they purchase it. A new writer may get an advantage if his or her book has an obvious “niche”: a subject that can be targeted to a specific group – for example, to avid knitters, or rose gardeners or cross-country skiing enthusiasts – and could then be promoted through those groups’ blogs and other social networking sites. Even a small built-in audience can give a book a real head start.

WP: What is the one book you would recommend for anyone who is interested in writing suspense novels?

LM: Only one? Well, I guess I’d suggest they choose a recent bestseller that’s also particularly well-written. At the moment, I’d recommend “Girl On A Train,” which exemplifies the currently popular genre of dark psychological suspense. Alternatively, I’d tell them to check out the latest book of one of the proven masters of suspense series – John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton — and compare it with one of the earlier books.

WP: This spring, you’ll be teaching Writing the Popular Novel. What would you like potential students to know about this course? What are you most excited about with regard to teaching this course?

LM: I’d like them to know that my aim will be to give each student the best possible start to completing that novel they’re itching to write, and in as supportive an atmosphere as possible. What excites me about the prospect of teaching? I suspect that it will be a two-way street – I’m betting that I’ll be recharged and inspired in my own work by the experience.

Interested in learning how to write a popular novel? Mark your calendars for Lindsay’s summer course! Summer enrollment begins on Monday, April 25th.

Nutschell Windsor is the Program Representative for Creative Writing (online) and Events. Contact her at (310) 794-1846 or nwindsor@uclaextension.edu.

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