ChickLit Beach Read for Moms’ Book Club
Please meet my friend Karen Bergreen. She’s a multi-talented comedian, author, and ex-attorney (we won’t hold it against you). I met her in college. My freshman roommate Alicia roomed with her during the last two years of college. Because they were “quaded” which meant they lived in the Hinderlands only accessible by shuttle bus, bike, or very long walk (not recommended on a cold day), I felt like I never say Alicia as much as I wanted to. But because Alicia is good friends with Karen, by friendship proximity, I knew I would like Karen as well. And I did and I do.
Karen is lovely, down-to-earth yet screamingly funny person. It’s always a pleasure to get to talk to her, yet it is never enough. Good news though. Our 25th reunion is looming. I hope to see her then and maybe we can all walk over to the local movie theater to see her book turned into a movie which, I predict, is just around the corner! Or, I can just stalk her.
Publisher’s Weekly described Following Polly as a delicious mix of Comedy Central mixed with Law and Order. It has those elements, but there’s more. A post-Harvard romance. A peek inside the sleazy world of Hollywood casting agents. The ups and downs of a thirty-something single girl in New York City in search of a career. I’d describe this as a Sex and the City meets Law and Order AND Comedy Central with a bit of Love Story thrown in for good measure.
The fun of reading Karen’s book is seeing so much of Karen’s personal experiences incorporated into an extremely riveting and entertaining read. Karen is as likable and funny as Alice Teackle, our heroine who is running from the law after her nemesis-from-college, the glamorous but bitchy Polly Dawson is found with fatal stab wounds by, oops!, Alice herself.
Add in another sub-plot: Alice’s college crush, Walter (aka Charlie) has a problem of his own. His father has been supposedly framed for Spiterzing with prostitutes which cost them both their impressive jobs. Alice and Charlie team up as it turns out that Alice is exceptionally good at sleuthing. Her photographic memory and her fondness for Hollywood gossip prove to be big assets, as is her ability to blend in to be fairly unobtrusive.
The plot continues to bob and weave in a riveting way, and the ending is perfect! That’s all I can say. Go read the book!
p.s. My book club is reading Following Polly now. We meet in October to discuss.
And heeeeerrre’s Karen!You might recognize her from Law and Order! Yes, she was actually in an episode. This might explain her encyclopedic knowledge of the show. It was “research.”
1) You are a multi-talented phenom. Tell me about your career as ex-attorney, stand-up comedian, and actress. When did you decide to add author to the list and why?
I worked as a lawyer for about for years before I would admit that it wasn’t for me. I needed to work in a creative environment, and that meant starting all over again: doing open mics for years, taking acting classes, doing improv, and taking part time work. I thought it would be hard to assume the identity of anonymous artistic wannabe, but, lo and behold , it was easier than I feared. After a few years people actually paid me to be funny (something for which I had gotten in trouble throughout Middle School). I got an agent and was cast in several national commercials, local theatrical productions, and even on Law & Order. I was invited to the US comedy Arts Festival In Aspen,and I had a monthly cartoon in Mademoiselle magazine and a development deal at HBO. I was on a short-lived, silly but super fun game show on the Oxygen Network. I was working a lot–sometimes for no money and sometimes for more than I deserved.
When I had children, my life changed drastically. My husband has a stable job with a a stable income, insurance (sometimes, dental even). I couldn’t keep up the schedule I had had before unless I wanted to take a back seat in child rearing. I continued to perform, but not with the same frequency. I still needed to be creative and funny, but I had to do it, at least partially, at home. My infants didn’t understand my nuanced humor so I started writing.
3) Was there a Polly-like person at Harvard or law school? What about Charlie?
Polly is an amalgam of a bunch of women I knew growing up. I lifted the story about the thigh measuring straight from my childhood. There have been several Charlie like crushes in my life. People I didn’t know particularly well but appealed to me from afar because of a mannerism or a vocal quality.
4) Your book has now gone to paperback! Congratulations!
Thank you. I hope it does well. It is, in my mind, more of a paperback book than a hardcover.
5) Have you ever stalked anyone? Come on, you can fess up!
I have never stalked anyone but believe you me, I HAVE WANTED TO. As I said, I am naturally curious (I prefer that to nosy), and there are people in my life that–I am certain –lead double lives. I would love to follow them unnoticed for weeks on end.
I have a book coming out next Spring entitled Perfect is Overrated about a mom who overcomes post-partum depression by solving the murders of the mommies in her snotty pre-school. It’s really funny. I just started something new. ACK!!!!!
I am making appearances in bookstores in New York and New Jersey. I will be at Words Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ on September 10 and at the Dolphin Bookstore in Port Washington New York on October 20. I have also been invited to sign and speak at some Jewish Book Fairs in Detroit, San Gabriel, CA, Fairfax, VA, and Scottsdale., AZ. I am certain that I will be making more appearances. Check out my author page on Amazon or my website for my schedule. www.karenbergreen.net. I also talk about myself endlessly on facebook and welcome funny, chatty people or fans to my friend page or my fan page.
I often go to local book clubs, as long as they provide me with a snack.
This book took a few years to write. It took me a while to understand how to write a readable plot. First, I had to find an agent. I was lucky in that I had a friend who was an agent. She helped me enormously in the editing process. I rewrote it about 349 times. And, because we are friends, she could say things like, “OH MY, this is terrible. Get rid of it.” When I did all that I could possibly do, we sent it out to a few publishers and after that, it was fairly quick.
For both the writer and the comic, I would say: JUST DO IT. It is okay to be awful. Few people are fabulous at any of this when they first start. For comics, talk about what you find funny. Be authentic. Get stage time and don’t be a jerk.
For writers, my advice is similar. Write the story you would want to read. Also, if agents and publishers consistently tell you to change something, CHANGE IT.