Last Saturday I covered the wedding of Derrence Washington and Gawker founder and publisher Nick Denton for the “Vows” column in The New York Times. I was happy with the result.

On July 1, 2014, my new novel, The Actress, will be published. I could not be more excited. The idea came for me about two and a half years ago and I have been hard at work on it ever since. It is not set in Brooklyn – but in Berlin, Utah, Venice, Hancock Park, and OK, a tiny bit in Brooklyn. My first reading will be at Bookcourt on July 1. Some amazing authors who I admire have been kind enough to give praise to the novel:

“Amy Sohn’s unputdownable The Actress is like Henry James crossbred with the very best of US Weekly. An addictive saga of love, lust, fame, and friendship centered on a fascinating question: Are we who we pretend to be?”
- Elisa Albert, author of The Book of Dahlia and How This Night is Different

“Amy Sohn turns her razor-sharp eye on stardom in this sexy and engaging novel. The Actress delves deep into the nature of love and marriage, and offers a behind-the-scenes studio tour of Hollywood to boot.”
- Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers

“Amy Sohn peels back the tabloid curtain and portrays, in granular detail, the emotional and vocational machinations of a made-in-Hollywood marriage. The Actress is a riveting and frothy novel.”
- Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

The Actress is an intelligent and humane novel that manages to civilize Hollywood while honoring its often overlooked complexities and still leaving its wicked vitality intact.”
- Elizabeth Kelly, author of Apologize, Apologize! and The Last Summer of the Camperdowns

“In the story of Maddy Freed, indie actress gone Hollywood A-list, Amy Sohn delivers at once a serious Bildungsroman and a surreptitious pleasure. The Actress is juicy and addictive, a Jamesian Page Six of a novel.”
- Elizabeth Gaffney, author of When the World Was Young

“Utterly engrossing from first page to last, The Actress is the best kind of page-turner. Beautifully written, acutely observed, and just plain delicious. I couldn’t put it down.”
- Dani Shapiro

Pre-order the book from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Indiebound, or your local bookseller.

Here is the book description:

A big, lively breakout novel from bestselling author Amy Sohn, in which a talented young actress falls in love with Hollywood’s biggest star—ignoring the rumors that he’s gay—only to realize that she may just have been cast in the role of a lifetime.

All Maddy Freed has ever wanted is to act. When the indie film she made with her director boyfriend, Dan, wins her a special prize at the Mile’s End Film Festival, she’s thrilled, though she has no idea how dramatically it will come to change her life. But Maddy’s success catches the attention of Bridget Ostrow, a legendary talent manager whose biggest client is Hollywood heartthrob Steven Weller. Before Maddy knows it, her career is roaring onto the express track.

Bridget secures Maddy an audition for an Oscar-worthy role opposite Steven, and soon the two actors are thrown together in the midst of Europe’s Old World charm. Rumors about Steven’s sexual orientation have circulated for years, but it doesn’t take long for the professional relationship to grow personal, or for Maddy to turn her back on her old friends and trade New York for L.A. The new couple’s whirlwind wedding does nothing to stop the rumors, however, and cracks start appearing in their fairytale romance. As Maddy stands by the man she believes is the love of her life, she begins to question just how much she knows about her leading role…as Steven’s wife.

Over the years many people have written to ask if I would put out a collection of my New York Press column, “Female Trouble,” which ran from 1996 to 1999. I have no plans to do so but I’ve done the next best thing, which is given all of the columns to Byliner.
If you read them in chronological order it’s like a mini-novel, taking you through the Novel Lover years, the Young Director months, and all the one-nighters in between, including Radical Hottie, Social Satirist, Guy Nouveau, Indie Rocker, Darius Rucker, Indie Auteur, Comic Cynic, Mr. Director, Tom of “The Booby Trap” and of course, Paul. You can also read such classics as “The Drools,” my satire of The Rules, “The Line of Seriousness,” about the pitfalls of saying “I love you” first, and “Stench of a Woman,” about what happened after I farted in bed with a new boyfriend.
The content is not free, you have to sign up to Byliner Premium, but it’s cheap and with it you get to read Bissinger and Krakauer and Tan, not just my “Female Trouble” columns.
To get a sampling of all my content on Byliner including “Female Trouble,” go here:
To go to the home page of Byliner and explore, go here:
More soon,
AMY

Had a great time at John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders 3/14 at City Winery, in company of Fred Armisen, Dan Zanes, Graham Parker, Hospitality, and Peter Carey. Wes wrote a limerick about me, as he does all of his performers:

There once was a writer called Sohn
Admired for her humourous tone
Don’t look to her books
For detectives and crooks
But a grope in Park Slope’s not unknown.

The show will air on NPR at some point in the next year, I’ll update here.
More soon about my FIFTH novel in this space, and Motherland will be out in paperback July 2nd.

Going on NPR’s “All Things Considered” tomorrow, Saturday August 26. Please check your listings to see when it’s on!!

In less dramatically exciting news, I got back from my MOTHERLAND mini-book tour about a week ago and wanted to share some photos. When I found out I had to get from Boston to Sag Harbor to Mattituck I decided to do most of it by ferry. Why do land when I could do water? Thanks to the people who came out in those fine cities to see me, especially in Mattituck, NY, where we had a lively discussion and one woman told me, “I live in a Long Island suburb. Come see my hell.”
Here are some pics with captions.

Cross Sound Ferry New London-Orient

S92 Suffolk County bus Orient-Greenport

Orient, NY

Peconic Jitney from Greenport-Sag Harbor


Sag Harbor

With Sag Harbor Trustee R. Stein in the American Hotel. I'm sporting ferry hair.

Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times weighed in on MOTHERLAND in this week’s “Big City” column. I am extremely grateful to be covered on the front page of the Metropolitan section and am a faithful reader of Ginia’s column. I read this one three times, trying to glean her thesis. She seemed conflicted. I think her point was: “In these books people have adultery but only with neighbors. That is new and that is depressing.” I would like to say that the people in my novel who have affairs do it with very exciting people who are not their neighbors. One does it with ex-neighbor who has moved to Manhattan.
I would also like to say that even if people do sleep with their neighbors, that is not a new thing. People have been sleeping with their neighbors for a very long time. I think there is a scene about this in Mel Brooks’ History of the World. I think Rick Moody also wrote about it more recently.
P.S. Can anyone name the location of the photograph? I can and it ain’t the Slo.

The Brooklyn Writers Space LitCrawl Reading
Saturday, May 19, 2012
6 PM.
Bookcourt Bookstore, 163 Court Street near Dean St.
with:
Terence Degnan, Jim Hanas, Heidi Schreck, Amy Sohn
Was everything really OK for Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court when the no smoking sign dinged off? Come find out what members of the Brooklyn Writers Space think happened after the ending of Say Anything.
New York’s Lit Crawl is a madcap concept first created by San Francisco’s Litquake literary festival back in 2004. It’s a bar crawl, with literature! The inaugural Lit Crawl NYC took place in September 2008 and has grown into a lively, wildly popular annual event. Lit Crawl Brooklyn is sponsored by Brooklyn Writer’s Space; Pratt; Sixpoint Brewery; Out of Print Clothing; Brooklyn Historic Society; PEN America
http://litcrawl.org/nyc

In thinking about the locations for my new novel MOTHERLAND (out August 14), I remembered that someone made a map of the locations for the prequel to Motherland, Prospect Park West. On Google Maps you can do custom maps, which means of fictitious people living in fictitious books. For Motherland I am hoping someone can build an iPhone app with locations from both books, so if you are visiting Brooklyn you can go to the real/fake places. For one of my real favorite places in the neighborhood, check out this video I did for WSJ.com.
If you’re interested in the people, places, and things mentioned in works of fiction you’ll enjoy Small Demons, which has a fantastic page for Prospect Park West. You have to join to see it or any others but it’s free.

Yes, we tweeted snarky things. Yes, Samantha Bee mocked us all on “The Daily Show,” and allowed three eccentric coop members to create satire simply by being themselves.
But I came away from the vote last night feeling renewed affection for the Coop. I was impressed by the level of debate, intelligence of the speakers, surprisingly low heckle quotient, and the organizational know-how that made the proceedings go off with only a few technical glitches. I came away feeling like the Coop is a utopia within the dystopia of Park Slope. I grew up in middle-income housing in the midst of Brooklyn Heights. Our building was nothing like our ZIP code. I feel the same way about the Coop. It’s nothing like 11215. It’s the only place in my neighborhood where I see very different people bonding, connecting, disagreeing, getting into it, engaging with each other.
It is this engagement that is wholly lacking on the sidewalks of PS. People gossip behind each other’s backs, snicker about ill-behaving dogs/children/spouses, even sound off on message boards, but are afraid to say what they really think to the person or people who pissed them off in the first place. Park Slope is getting too much like Sweden. The Coop is more like . . . Tel Aviv.
I took the B41 to the event and crossed Lafayette around a quarter to seven to find the line snaking its way from South Elliott Place (where Brooklyn Tech is) down Lafayette to the corner of Fort Greene Place. I couldn’t believe so many people had made time to come and vote on whether to vote.
I inspected the faces, trying to guess where people stood on the issue. This was not an easy task. The suited, bearded sixtysomething man in a suit in front of me had a Brooklyn accent and reminded me of my dad but said he was in favor of a boycott. I assumed that the banged, thick-accented Argentine girl smoking cigarettes next to me was anti-boycott until she said she would vote no, but was excited to come to the meeting because she loves the democratic process. “In my country,” she said, “people just riot.”
As I snaked down Lafayette to South Elliott Place, I thought of the old Fort Greene. One of my childhood friends grew up in Fort Greene pre-gentrification. Her family’s brownstone, across the street from Brooklyn Tech, now houses Jhumpa Lahiri, who bought it for a few million in 2005. My friend’s parents paid about $30,000 in the seventies. For a great article on the diversity of South Elliott Place, the block, check this out by awesome writer Stacy Abramson. The fact that Fort Greene is no longer the old Fort Greene is a part of the story, as is the fact that Park Slope is no longer the old Park Slope.
The media spin on PSFC/BDS was that the new Park Slope (New Slope) doesn’t care about a potential Israeli boycott because New Slope (white banker/lawyer parents with kids) shops at the Coop for foodie-ish, not political reasons. It’s a funny hook but it’s facile.
And it was not borne out by what I saw in line. I saw a lot of white yuppies my age. There was also museum curators; international grad students; my buddy Ricardo Cortes, the illustrator of Go th F*** to Sleep; old-school Slopers and their kids, now raising their own kids in the Slope; cute twentysomething gay girls reading The Hunger Games when bored; hipster thirtysomething Israelis looking distressed; a freelance Orthodox Jew named Matt Hue; local rabbi of Garfield Temple Andy Bachman; and the usual roundup of bloggers and tweeters like Brian Braiker, Irin Carmon of Salon, and Reuters’ Chadwick Matlin. There were a few black-hats but not nearly as many as I expected.
If the vote when the way it went due to the black-hat contingent, I hope those families are honestly reporting the number of people over 18 in their homes so that they are not scamming the Coop of work shifts. I see a lot of Lubavitcher women working, not too many men. Just sayin’.
Was the meeting a cartoon of eccentricity? Of course. People who want to stand up and have their say are stronger personalities. There were dreadlocked white people. And stand-up acts (the woman who urged us to fight for our right to party appeared to be dressed as a fake Hasid, an ill-conceived comedy act), yellers (the African American man and thirty-year Coop member who reminded us this process was as painful as an enema), and a self-identified black lesbian who said it’s political every time she walks into the Coop. This got twinkles. There were also impassioned Jewish-American women who support BDS and feel human rights abuses in Israel go against Jewish values. And some hateful people. An older BDS supporter stood up and made her case by spitting the names “Bloomberg” and “Lander” with a venom that shocked me. I remembered that I had trained this woman how to use the checkout machine.
There was also a wacky white-haired hippie in a Hawaiian shirt who actually had a good idea: a straight up-or-down vote on a boycott. The idea was not voted on and Mr. Albert Solomon was asked to leave the stage.
I expected the vote to be no and it was. It was about 60-40, closer than I had expected. The BDS movement is gaining momentum. In another five years if BDS comes up for a vote again at the Coop, it will probably pass. The movement will not go away and it got huge media attention based on this event, certainly one of its goals.
I love the people that came to the meeting last night, even those whose politics disgust me. But there were 14,000 people who stayed home or worked. As my neighborhood gets more and more affluent, we are going to start to see people joining the Coop for reasons that have nothing to do with the principles of its founding. It will become more like Whole Foods. (Even though we will soon get our own Whole Foods in Gowanus.) Maybe the plastic bag ban will be reversed. I have many peers who send their children to public school for political reasons even though they could afford private school. To them it’s a statement. It’s like choosing to drink tap water instead of bottled. There will be people who join the Coop with a similar line of thinking. It makes them feel good in the kind of vague, noble way that sending a check to WNYC does.
I hope that these people get politicized when they walk in, and I hope all the bat-shit-crazy people on both sides of the issue keep coming to PSFC even as more coops pop up in neighborhoods where a lot of batshit-crazy people live. The Slope needs to be more like the Coop but I hope the Coop never gets too much like the Slope.

On March 20, the memoir I co-wrote with Laura Vikmanis, It’s Not About the Pom-Poms: How a 40-Year-Old Mom Became the NFL’s Oldest Cheerleader and Found Hope, Joy, and Inspiration Along the Way, will be released by Ballantine Books. Laura and I could not be more excited about it (as we were by former cheerleader Madonna’s ode to cheerleaders at the Superbowl halftime show). Laura has an amazing life story and is an inspiration to me. She is sunny, optimistic, and most important, she was not afraid to pursue her dream of becoming an NFL cheerleader as a middle-aged single mother of two, even after being told repeatedly that it would never happen for her. She ignored the haters and went for it. After being rejected the first time she tried out for the Cincinnati Ben-Gals, she kept working out, took a hip-hop dance with twelve-year-olds, and enrolled in a class taught by a former Ben-Gal, all to help her get on. It worked and the next time she tried out, she made it! Though there is an NFL cheerleader who is a grandma, Laura remains the oldest NFL cheerleader.
I had a great time hanging out with Laura in Dayton last year learning her story. I also realized that when you spend time with a bunch of twentysomething cheerleaders with rock-hard abdominal muscles and almost no body fat, it makes you join a gym, which I did.
Here is a Yahoo video on Laura’s story. The video is part of a great series called Second Act, which is about people discovering a new passion midlife.
Here is Laura’s web site, CheerleaderLaura.com.
You can pre-order the book now from Amazon, Indiebound, or B & N. There is also an audio version recorded by Laura.
Stay tuned for readings and events and news about the motion picture of Laura’s life to be made by New Line. This is Invincible for women.