Today we get to chat with the always groovy Monica Lee, author of, The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal. Her true story is unbelievable.....so let's not waste a moment!!
1. What is your book about?
“The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal” is the true story of my first marriage to a man who was charged with a sex crime with one of his drumline students. I write about how we met, what happened with the student, why I stayed with him for five years after the crime and why I eventually left the marriage. I hope it’s a modern parable on faith and faithfulness.
2. What makes your book different than others in your genre?
Reviewers often use the words “brave” and “honest.” I don’t candy-coat the facts of the crime, which I think few people are willing to address publicly, or my own poor choices. A member at my church read the book, and he said he had to shield his eyes when he read some passages. I said, “Well, one can’t very well write a book with sex in the title without writing about sex!”
3. What makes a good memoir?
A good memoir requires a big turning point, a moment of realization when the protagonist finally “gets it,” and that requires the writer to have a certain amount of transparency and introspection. Not all memoirists have that, especially celebrities. Beyond that, all good writing – in memoir or otherwise – requires details: Good description, dialogue that rings true or evocative characters.
4. Is your writing style similar to any well-known writers?
There’s a great website, “I Write Like,” that compares one’s writing to famous authors, and it says I write like James Foster Wallace who wrote “The Pale King,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. It’s actually an unfinished novel because Wallace committed suicide so I only know for sure that like “The Pale King,” my story is unfinished.
5. How long did it take you to write your book?
I started writing it in 2006 when I left my first husband and I took up the manuscript a couple of times in the years that followed, but I couldn’t finish it until 2011. Writing it required me to process a lot of emotion, and it wasn’t easy, but I felt so much lighter when I was done.
6. Who is your muse?
I always tell people my mother is my muse. I write a daily blog about my life in general, and when I don’t know what to write, I think about what I would tell my mother about my day. She encourages me to think deeply, keeps me honest and loves me unconditionally.
7. What are your hobbies?
I took up running about the same time I started pondering a divorce in 2006 even though I had never run more than the length of a basketball court, and I ran a marathon five months later (that’s Chapter 22!). I don’t run long distances anymore, but I still run 10 or 15 miles a week. I’m a lot more pleasant to be around on days I run, and I sleep better.
8. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a prequel of sorts based on my diary from 1982 when I turned 15 and learned to French kiss; I think it’s hard to write about life without writing about sex, maybe? It’s interesting because I see now how much of my character was already formed at that stage and also because it’s a more fun, much lighter look at my life than “The Percussionist’s Wife.” Oh, to be young again!
Monica Lee is a writer and personal historian who lives in northern Illinois.
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