Thursday, June 23, 2022

Caroline Woods

photo credit: Anastasia Sierra
Caroline Woods is the author of the novels Fräulein M. and The Lunar Housewife, named a most anticipated book of summer 2022 by The New York Times, Bookpage, Publishers Weekly, CrimeReads, the Today Show’s Read with Jenna community, and more.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Lunar Housewife is my original title, although we toyed briefly with some others (the one that came closest was How To Spot a Communist, named for a newsreel that aired in the fifties). I love The Lunar Housewife because it does a lot of work to let the reader know that this is a historical novel (the word "housewife" does that--now we say "stay-at-home-mom") with kitschy, sci-fi elements. Its one limitation is that "The Lunar Housewife" is actually the title of the novel within the novel, the one Louise Leithauser, my protagonist, is writing, about an American woman who goes to live in a lunar colony with a Soviet man. But I think that's okay. In a metaphorical sense, Louise herself becomes a lunar housewife; she's slowly isolated, and fenced more and more into a domestic role, by the conspiracy-embroiled men around her.

What's in a name?

When Louise meets Papa Hemingway a third of the way through the novel, he comments that her name, Louise Leithauser, sounds like a girl journalist in a comic book. That's what I was going for. I wanted her to sound like a celebrity, a bit unreal; I think it fits with the space-age pulp flavor of the book.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

I don't think my teenage self would be surprised at all. I think she'd love this book. My taste hasn't changed much over the years. I like historical fiction, but with a twist: multiple points of view, time travel, sci-fi--I need a bit of something else to really love a book. My favorite books as a teen were Sebastien Japrisot's A Very Long Engagement, a brilliant historical mystery told in nonlinear fashion, and Margaret Atwood's genre-bending The Blind Assassin.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I think finding the entry point at which to drop readers into the story is harder. I always knew how this book would end: Louise would find a way to get the better of the guys in her life, and their CIA handlers. But where to start? A fabulous New York party, full of debauchery and celebrity guests, seemed the way to go.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I think my main characters tend to have a lot of me in them. I'm working on getting away from that in the future.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Politics, for sure. I think reaching adulthood and learning, for example, what the CIA did to interfere with foreign elections, especially the 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected leader of Iran, had a significant impact on what I have wanted to write about for the last decade. It's not a coincidence that The Lunar Housewife is set in 1953; the Iran events are happening in the background and explain why it matters that the CIA also had an influence on what people were reading in America and abroad.
Visit Caroline Woods's website.

--Marshal Zeringue