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Sarah Bird is the author of five novels: The Yokota Officers Club, Virgin of the Rodeo, The Mommy Club, The Boyfriend School, and Alamo House. She is a columnist for Texas Monthly and has written for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, O Magazine, Glamour, and Mademoiselle, among other publications.
Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?
A. I was a reluctant transplant who had to be seduced by Texas. In 1973, madly in love, I followed a boyfriend to Austin. When I left New Mexico my friends had a good-bye party and gave me cans of hairspray and toy six-shooters. Once here, said boyfriend ditched me for Scientology and I was marooned in a state where my heart had been broken, it was hellish hot, and there might be a sniper in The Tower.
New Mexico has more historical antagonism toward Texas than most Texans are aware of and, though in a quieter way, also considers itself a mecca and the best of all the fifty states. Though raised in Air Force bases around the world, I came of age in the Land of Enchantment, considered myself a New Mexican, and always planned to return.
Then I got a fellowship at UT, befriended a bounty of amazing Texans, found a job working for the state of Texas, fell in love with a Texan, married a Texan, gave birth to a Texan, and realized that I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else except Austin.
So let’s say I’m a passionate Austinite.
Q. How did you end up writing literary fiction?
A. While I was backpacking around Europe, then working in Spain at a German scuba club, and in France as an au pair, I tried learning colloquial French and Spanish by reading photo-romance magazines and got the brilliant idea to see if there was a comparable market here. Back home I discovered all the True magazines: True Confessions, True Love, True Romance. These pulp potboilers have pretty much disappeared, but they, and later romance novels, paid a lot of rent and taught me immense amounts about point of view, structure, and being productive, while I was learning to write what I actually cared about, literary novels.
Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?
A. Until this most recent book, I was pretty oblivious to book marketing. Back in the old days, year before last, or the one before that, publishers had publicity departments that took care of most of that. Now that we’ve had the digital age thrust upon us, I am scrambling to figure out how to obey publishers’ new commandment: Thou Shalt Establish a Web Presence. Am I doing that right now?
Q. Tell us about your latest release. Is it set in Texas?
A. Though I am an anthropologist at heart and love recreating cultures and worlds, I purposely did not set The Gap Year in a specific site. Instead, I hoped to enhance the universality of the experience of a parent letting her only child go, and of that child struggling to break free, by placing the book in an unnamed suburb, ringed by an interchangeable, endless loop of TJ Maxx-Home Depot-Ross-TJ Maxx.
Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?
A. www.sarahbirdbooks.com, which is a work-in-progress, but I should have all my events up on it.
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/sarahbirdauthor
Or, friend me at https://www.facebook.com/sarahbirdauthor/