Author's First Novel Set in Altadena

Already getting plenty of local buzz, author Margaret Finnegan takes us around "The Goddess Lounge."

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.

Margaret Finnegan August 01, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Lori, I am so glad you liked it!
Lynne August 01, 2012 at 10:38 PM
While reading The Goddess Lounge I really enjoyed the food descriptions in one of the chapters. I wondered if they were inspired by any special meals you might have had in the past, or maybe is it just your fantasy to be served those meals some day? Would it be your dream to visit someone who cooked for you that way, sans the crazy lady?
Kim Axelrod Ohanneson August 02, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I'm such a big fan of Margaret and The Goddess Lounge! It's a rare book that makes me laugh out loud and many times at that.
Margaret Finnegan August 02, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Hi Lynne, what a great question. I don't think I've ever eaten the way that Penne eats when she is up in Santa Barbara County, but I do enjoy really good food, and that sure was a fun chapter to write because it was all about letting go and totally indulging one's appetites. How often do any of us get to do that? And even if we do, how many of us getting to do it with the something really special instead of say, a giant Kit Kat.
Susan Campisi August 03, 2012 at 04:19 AM
I'm a few chapters in to The Goddess Lounge and I'm loving every page. It really is hilarious and so well written. The fact that the main character lives in Altadena is the icing on the cake. I think you should get used to the social aspect of being a published author, Margaret, as I expect more and more readers are going to fall in love with your book. Enjoy the ride!


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