Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Amy Poeppel's writing is music to our eyes...plus a book giveaway

Photo by George Baier IV
We're pleased to have Amy Poeppel back at CLC today to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, Musical Chairs. Melissa enjoyed it and has a review to share. Thanks to Amy, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas. She graduated from Wellesley College and worked as an actress in the Boston area, appearing in a corporate industrial for Polaroid, a commercial for Brooks Pharmacy, and a truly terrible episode of America’s Most Wanted, along with other TV spots and several plays. While in Boston, she also got her M.A. in Teaching from Simmons College.

She is married to David Poeppel, a neuroscientist at NYU and Director of the Max Planck Institute in Frankfurt. For the past thirty years, they have lived in many cities, including San Francisco, Berlin, and New York, and had three sons along the way. Amy taught high school English in the Washington, DC suburbs, and after moving to New York, she worked as an assistant director of admissions at an independent school where she had the fulfilling experience of meeting and getting to know hundreds of applicant families.

Amy attended sessions at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit and wrote the theatrical version of Small Admissions, which was performed there as a staged reading in 2011. Amy’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Rumpus, Working Mother, Points In Case, The Belladonna, and Literary Mama. (Bio adapted from Amy's website.)

Visit Amy online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.

Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.

With her trademark humor, pitch-perfect voice, and sly perspective on the human heart, Amy Poeppel crafts a love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony. In the tradition of novels by Maria Semple and Stephen McCauley, Musical Chairs is an irresistibly romantic story of role reversals, reinvention, and sweet synchronicity.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you've received about your writing?
One of my very favorite authors—Marcy Dermansky of Very Nice and Bad Marie—said I have “a remarkable talent for creating the very best kind of mayhem” in my novels. This blurb made my day! I love creating characters and then putting them in situations that are challenging, surprising, and comedic. Marcy’s comment was later backed up by BookPage; they said, “Poeppel’s people are a mess, but her writing is crisp and breezy.” Mayhem and mess? That definitely makes me smile.

Which of the characters in Musical Chairs was the easiest for you to write and which was the most difficult?
In some ways Jackie was the easiest character to write. I loved bringing in a character who didn’t quite fit in and who was seeing the other characters for the very first time. Jackie feels out of place and nervous—I can relate to that—and observes the family members with a little disdain but also with admiration.

Will was probably the most difficult to write because I wanted him to be a really, truly good guy. There’s a danger in that because I didn’t want him to come across as too sappy or too good to be true. It was fun to find an edge to his character, just enough snarkiness to make him real, but enough loyalty and kindness to make him wonderful.

If Musical Chairs were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I would love to see Musical Chairs on the big screen! I would cast Debra Messing as Bridget and Hugh Jackman as Will. For Will’s love interest, Emma, I’d choose Leslie Mann, and I’d give Jude Law the role of Gavin, the handsome star violinist. Finally, I’d cast Michael Caine as Bridget’s famous father, Edward Stratton!

What is your favorite piece of classical music?
My son Luke introduced to me to a lot of classical music while I was writing Musical Chairs, which I truly appreciated! One piece I especially grew to love (and included in the novel) is Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor. It goes from dramatic and lovely to joyful and energetic, and listening to it is a pleasure.

What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic quarantine?
I’ve learned that I make no sense whatsoever. It seems I am perfectly content to be a hermit. I can go days in sweatpants, happily reading, writing, and taking solo walks without missing companionship in the least. But I have other days where I long to be with friends, crave in person conversations, and would do anything to walk into a restaurant just to be surrounded by people. So I guess I’m some kind of introvert/extrovert hybrid.

What is something that you had a good laugh about recently?
I’m finding it so hard to laugh these days! There was one especially grim day when I was despairing about the pandemic, while also wondering how on earth I would be able to reach readers in the middle of this crisis—Would anyone even know my book was coming out? Would anyone be excited to read it? And then I came up with an idea to make a book trailer with my family. I wrote a script and asked my kids and husband to be in it with me. We filmed the whole thing on an iPhone, and we laughed the whole time we were making it. Please check it on YouTube and let me know if you can tell that we were laughing between takes!

Thanks to Amy for chatting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends August 2nd at midnight EST.


Padmini Rao said...

I love the violin.

Melissa said...

Anything by Beethoven!

Storm992472 said...

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

traveler said...

The William Tell Overture by Rossini.

Rita Wray said...

Blue Danube by Strauss

Karen B said...

I have no favorite but love it when I Hear snippets of something familiar in a TV show and/or movie. Also on the radio when I have classical on in the background.

Nancy P said...

I like several but Ave Maria has always been a favorite. It's simply beautiful... I recently saw this video online where it was sung & you can see the emotional impact of the audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d4xXvF2ukY

Donna Shaw said...

This is a new author for me. I've noticed that she writes about the musical arts. I would love to read some of her books as several members of my family are musical: voice, violin, cello, piano,,piano and organ.

Linda Marie said...

I don't listen to classical music unless it is classic rock.

Grandma Cootie said...

Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart

susieqlaw said...


Mary C said...

Mozart's music

Nancy said...

I love Henry Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Katherine said...

I don't have a favorite piece of classical music. I DO think your family book trailer is hilarious. :)

diannekc said...

I don't have a particular classical music favorite, but I do enjoy classical music sometimes.

bn100 said...

no fav

Mary Preston said...

Pachelbel's Canon - moves me to tears. So incredibly beautiful.

Tatum Rangel said...

I'm not sure I have a favorite, although I love contemporary and neo classical, especially from artists such as Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Roberto Cacciapaglia, etc.

Cherisse said...

Beethoven’s Fur Elise is my favorite

rubynreba said...

I enjoy Beethoven's music.