Dear Money: An Interview with Martha McPhee

Dear Money:  A Great Story of Our Times

Dear Money: A Great Story of Our Times

Oh dear, I need money.  Such is the plight of all writers, unless you’re independently wealthy or you’re among the few to achieve John Grisham-like success.  There isn’t a writer on this earth—published or nonpublished—that couldn’t identify with the struggles of India Palmer, the main character and narrator in Martha McPhee‘s recently-released novel, “Dear Money.”  And I’m one of them!

In this beautifully crafted fourth novel, Martha reveals the travails of India from the angst over paying bills, to the challenges of “keeping up with the Jones,” to the long hours a dedicated writer must log at her desk (sunny days and all) and much more.  Clearly Martha, a highly-acclaimed writer that happens to live in New York city like her protagonist, has drawn from personal experience to spin this exciting tale of a cash-strapped writer that’s tempted by the allure of a more high rolling life in the Big Apple.  India ends up doing the unthinkable:  She trades her artist’s life to become a bond trader.  Funnily enough the idea behind the novel comes from a real-life offer.  A legendary bond trader did claim that he could transform Martha into a booming Wall Street success in eighteen months; fortunately for us she declined and wrote “Dear Money” instead.  It’s not surprising to learn from the intricately-detailed passages written about the highly competitive and adrenaline-charged life among New York’s financiers that Martha shadowed a bond trader to learn the ins and outs of mortgage-backed securities during the height of its rise.  I found the contrasts between the writer’s life and the financier’s life to be one of the most compelling parts of this book.

Sweet Martha

Sweet Martha

You may be wondering why I’ve taken such an interest in Martha and her work.  As usual, serendipity played a hand in our connecting with each other.  I actually skied with her, her family and some friends of hers last March in Telluride. We both shared that we were writers but little else about our work was discussed. Since it was the height of the busy season, I didn’t find a moment to Google her.  I feel as though I really came to know Martha after she sent me “Dear Money” later on in the spring, especially because it’s a book that has resonated so much with my writer’s life (sans the bond trader dimension, of course).  Now perhaps the next time we ride the chairlift together we’ll shed our squirrel-y shyness about our work (seemingly a classic character trait of writers) and get down to some real exchanges about the creative process.

It looks as though that just might happen since plans are in the works for Martha to give a presentation at the Wilkinson Public Library in Telluride next March.  I’m vying for that program to include a writer’s workshop, too!

If you’re a writer, you must listen to the Travel Fun interview I conducted with Martha earlier this summer. Avid readers will love it as well.  And how’s that pile of summer reading doing at your bedside?  I bet it has dwindled but if you’re like me, you feel like you’re just warming up. Keep adding to the stack and continue that summer reading mode all year long.  I provide some great reading suggestions at the end of this interview that will steer you toward more excellent book picks, both fiction and nonfiction.

Click on the play button below to listen to my interview with Martha.

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