HOT, HUNGRY AND HORMONAL…
Author Saralee Rosenberg recently sat down with her main characters.Mindy Sherman and Beth Diamond, the stars of DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. She wanted to find out how their lives had changed since their story became the subject of a hilarious novel. For the record, Beth showed up almost an hour late wearing designer jeans that cost more than Mindy’s entire wardrobe. Mindy showed up on time wearing jeans (they were clean), sneakers (they were new) and a Mets t-shirt (because it fit).
Saralee: Let’s start from the beginning of the story. When you two first met in the prologue it was hardly love at first sight. Why did you have such an immediate dislike for each other?
Mindy: Are you kidding? Beth invited me over, then practically bit my head off because I showed up with my kids.
Beth: Oh stop. Every time you tell that story I want to smack you. I was very nice, just a little surprised that you assumed it was a playdate. I thought we were going to have a quiet chat.
Mindy: You were so mean and you know it. Every one who reads the book will side with me.
Saralee: I’d have to agree with her, Beth. You didn’t exactly come off like you were the Welcome Wagon.
Beth: Fine. Whatever. Not everyone makes a good first impression.
Mindy: Oh you made an impression. Tell Saralee what you told me right before I left that day.
Beth: I don’t remember.
Mindy: Yes you do.
Beth: Only because you keep bringing it up.
Saralee: What did you tell her and why didn’t I know about this? I brought you guys into this world. I thought I was in charge.
Mindy: Ha! You should know after writing four novels that characters are like kids. They never listen. They do what they want. You’re just the designated typist.
Saralee: Gee thanks, but I guess it’s true. I start out with a vision of what I think the story is going to be about, what’s going to happen to my characters, and invariably it evolves into a whole different scenario. There are some days when I’m working on a scene and it’s not coming together, either it’s boring or it’s not leading anywhere and…
Beth: Excuse me, but why are we talking about you? I thought you wanted to do this to get to know us better. We’re the stars, you’re only the writer.
Mindy (to Saralee): Now do you see what I had to put up with? I am so glad you threw her under the bus and gave her a big dose of reality.
Saralee: To be honest, I had no choice. If Beth was the same on page 300 as she was on page 1, readers wouldn’t care what happened to her. She needed to evolve and grow up and basically learn to like herself for the first time in her life.
Mindy: I thought that’s what was supposed to happen to me.
Saralee: Exactly. I made self-discovery your common bond. You both needed to stop all of that self loathing and learn to appreciate how special and lucky you were. You couldn’t go there until you realized that happiness was the journey, not the destination. Which brings me to my next question. How has life changed now that you’re best friends?
Mindy: Well, for me it’s a huge relief not having to start out dreading the day because I might run into Beth or have to talk to her. It was awful how much I let our relationship influence my moods and my attitude. I could kick myself for letting so many years go by where all I did was think about how much I couldn’t stand her and how much she was ruining my life. I wished I was the kind of person who was strong enough to tell her off from the beginning.
Beth: Oh sure, let’s all gang up on Beth. But what Mindy’s leaving out is the part about unreliable she was. She’d tell you she was going to drive, then back out last minute.
Mindy: Are you still harping on the carpool? Stuff happens.
Beth: Every day?
Mindy: If you’re in one of Saralee’s stories, absolutely.
Saralee: Just doing my job.
Beth: Anyway, the real issue for me was that I couldn’t stand that Mindy always had to be the martyr. She always had to be the one who everyone leaned on so she’d feel better about herself.
Saralee: You say it like it’s a bad thing. I thought Mindy was a lovely neighbor. Very caring, very generous. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body.
Mindy: Thank you.
Beth: Hey! I had good traits too.
Mindy: That’s true. Once you gave us your Knicks tickets because you couldn’t go.
Beth: It was no big deal. Somebody at work gave them to Richard.
Saralee: Hmm. Sounds like maybe you two haven’t changed as much as I thought.
Beth: No, we did. I’m an entirely different person. I’m much happier, less judgemental, more willing to give people and situations the benefit of the doubt. Oh, and I don’t think of food as the enemy anymore. I’m much less of a control freak. Less negative over all.
Mindy: Same with me. I used to be the queen of the bad attitudes. Now if something goes wrong, I think, okay maybe there’s a reason this happened and I’ll try to figure out what’s really going on. I love that saying there are no problems, only opportunities to do things differently.
Saralee: That’s brilliant. Who said that?
Saralee: Oh right. So to finish up, would you say overall that it was a good experience being in one of my novels?
Mindy: Absolutely. I loved it. I got to say some of the most hilarious lines and to have this amazing adventure.
Beth: I guess it all worked out in the end, but I wouldn’t call it fun. You put me through hell.
Saralee: Well, you have to admit it kept the story going. If you were as sweet as Mindy, readers would have been asleep by page six. By the way, what did happened after I left the prologue? Mindy, you said before that Beth said something that was really awful.
Mindy (looks at Beth): Should I tell her?
Beth: I’d rather you didn’t.
Saralee: Oh come on. It’s just between us girls and the book is done. It’s in the stores already.
Mindy to Beth: We might as well spill it. Otherwise Saralee might write us into a sequel and who knows what she’ll do to us then?
Beth: Whatever. Are you going to finish that muffin?
Mindy (hands her the plate): Okay, if you remember the scene, it’s move-in day and I went next door with Stacey and Jamie to meet Beth and it was a disaster. She made me so nervous I almost threw up and said to Artie, don’t unpack. We’re selling. Anyway, just as I was leaving, Beth said to me, “I’m sure you’re a very nice person but I could care less. By the time this story is over, I promise I will have made your life a living hell.”
Saralee: Oh my God! Beth, you really were awful.
Beth: You reap what you sow.
FUN VIDEO: Saralee Rosenberg talks about her proudest/not proudest moment as a mother. Oh the things we do for our kids!!