South Pasadena teacher and writer (a monthly regular on South Pas Patch, by the way), Margaret Finnegan’s first novel was released early this month. We asked her about the book, and the Altadena connection.
Q: Can you give us the elevator pitch for The Goddess Lounge?
A: The Goddess Lounge is a modern, comic riff on Homer’s The Odyssey. In The Odyssey, a wily prince becomes a hero by battling monsters while searching for home. In The Goddess Lounge, an Altadena mom battles contemporary monsters while facing down lots of traffic. And eventually she learns she’d rather be a goddess than a hero.
Q: You live in South Pasadena, but your main character lives in Altadena. Why Altadena?
A: I love Altadena. It’s this wonderful mix of nature and suburbia -- vibrant and unique -- yet very close to all the drama and excitement of Los Angeles. I knew that my main character, Penne Armour, would find that mix very appealing
Q: Do you see your character living in a particular neighborhood? Because we’re pretty varied around here.
A: Oh, I know exactly where Penne lives. She lives in an old yet adorable house near Christmas Tree lane. When her daughter was young, Penne loved walking with her daughter down Christmas Tree lane to see the lights and sing carols. Of course, a child can only put up with so much maternal singing, so that dream fell apart pretty quickly.
Q: What are a few of your favorite places in Altadena?
A: Bulgarini’s, Patticakes, the Girl Scout teepee on Mariposa, and the Balian house during the holidays.
Q: Your book just came out – how is it going so far?
A: Mostly, it’s all good. I’ve had people--mostly moms--tell me they really relate to Penne, and that, in many ways, I wrote their own story. But publication is also surprisingly stressful. It is hard to go from the very insular process of writing and rewriting to the very social process of engaging with readers and would-be readers. I guess it’s a different muscle that I am not as used to working.
Q: Where can we buy the book?
A: It’s available at Webster’s Fine Stationer’s, so you don’t even need to leave town to find it. Also Vroman’s in Pasadena, and all the usual online places.
Q: I hear your novel is the next selection for a Santa Barbara book club. How much do you want to be a fly on that wall?
A: Oh, I won’t just be a fly on that wall; I’m driving up to talk to them.
You can read a chapter of The Goddess Lounge here.