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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Welcome to my book tour for Christee Atwood’s book “Three Feet Under”.

Dee asked:

1) Christee What was the most positive experience of writing your novel in one month in the window of Waldenbooks?
Christee Answered:

Getting to visit with people when my attention to the book began to wane. With the attention span of a gnat who missed her dose of Ritalin, it was nice to have shiny objects to look at and people to talk to.

I also created some of my characters from the people who walked by. You’d be amazed at the characters in my book who resemble elderly mall walkers.
2) What was the most negative experience?

The negative part was the fact that the chicken suit I wore did not “breathe” well. I sweated so much that I actually lost weight. I wouldn’t recommend this diet, however. You can never really get that smell out of a fuzzy chicken suit.
3) Would you ever want that experience again?
Absolutely. I need to lose the weight. Also, it was a great way to write and promote at the same time. People just seem more willing to stop and visit with a giant fuzzy chicken.

So, in the course of writing a new novel, my earlier book, Three Feet Under: Journal of a Midlife Crisis, became a best seller at that Waldenbooks.

It’s also really fun to be able to take the experience of writing, which can be a lonely activity, and combining it with the commotion of a mall and the curiosity of passers-by at seeing a chicken in a bookstore window for no apparent reason.

4) Could you give one example of a really bad day and a really good day that you experienced during your 'midlife crisis'?
They’d probably be the same day. The bad day was when that cute boy on campus called me “ma’am”. The good day was later that same day when I wrote about that in my journal and realized how hilarious it was. It was the beginning of the theme for the book.

However, an even funnier day was when my husband went back to college and had the same experience. He realized that he was totally invisible to 19 year old girls. And one girl actually thought he was the teacher in their class. I think that experience might have encouraged him to buy his Harley.

5) What are a few things that you regret saying or doing on one of your bad days?
My biggest regrets would probably be more in line with the things I wore.

A person in midlife crisis who has had a margarita should not be allowed in the clothing section of any department store. It’s amazing how things that you think made you look young at a time like that actually make you look like a king-sized pillow that’s been stuffed into a twin-size pillow case.

6) Did you not want to travel with David to the places in the world he wanted to see?
Honestly, in my business as a speaker and author, I do so much traveling that staying at home by myself seems like a vacation to me. I mean, all my toys are here!

David wanted to go to Africa because it’s an area of special interest for him. I think he enjoyed having a vacation where he didn’t have to worry about what things I would like to do and could instead focus on the things he really wanted to experience while he was there.

There are some places we want to go see together and we’re making it a goal to get to some of those soon. Now, if we can just find a pet-sitter who won’t be scared of our “demon-cat” Poe.

7) Or did you stay at home as you were writing a novel?

I wrote Three Feet Under as I was recuperating from surgery. I got spayed. Or had my luggage unpacked, as David said. It gave me the first good vacation I’d had in years. That tells you I’ve been a little stressed…

Besides, the painkillers made my writing seem funnier.

I did get a lot of writing done while David was in Africa. In fact, I finished a romance book in 14 days. It was accepted by a publisher, but then they had me rewrite it three times for three different lines and finally we gave up on each other. From this experience I learned to get a signed commitment before you do rewrites, so it wasn’t a total loss.

8) You talk about goals and how kids are impatient, were you like that in your twenties?
Heck, I’m like that now!

· I stand at the microwave saying, “Why is 90 seconds so long?”
· I refuse to use a fax machine because it takes too long for the paper to go through.
· I have never once let brownies cool for the recommended fifteen minutes.

Isn’t it funny though? In my twenties, I knew everything. In my thirties, I was amazed at how little I’d known in my twenties. In my forties I’ve finally realized that I know nothing. But at least I’ve accepted that I’m a work in progress. A confusing work. Something like the Winchester Mansion.
9) How is your relationship with your Mom now?


Mom has memory issues now. I’m threatening to get her a shirt that says, “I have Alzheimer’s. What’s your excuse?”

We’re realizing that a lot of things that we thought we needed to remember aren’t all that important. It’s teaching both of us Zen.

We focus on the moment. We repeat things to each other a lot. And I tell her this is a handy time of life because I can keep telling her the same jokes and she can enjoy them all over again.

She tells me that she doesn’t really enjoy them. She’s just humoring me.

So, to answer your question, our relationship is just as interesting, unusual, and wonderful as ever. I love the woman and respect her more than any other person I’ve ever known.

10) Do you have many 'meetings' with your cat? What’s the name of your cat?
Gee – this is taking a depressing-sounding turn because I have to admit that Mama Cat has passed away. She was nearly 18 years old. She deserved the rest after listening to me talk nonstop for that many years.

However, other strays showed up at my house and so Poe (the demon cat I mentioned earlier) and Maddux (named after Greg Maddux, the pitcher) are now my partners in crime. The meetings with these two differ a lot from my meetings with Mama Cat.

Poe is the one who chases me from room to room to attack me. She also enjoys the game of “shred the toilet paper so it looks like snow” whenever I have displeased her by ignoring her for too long.

Maddux is sweet, gentle, and likes to sit in my lap and play with my mouse as I try to type. (I guess he knows what it’s called.) He’s wonderful, although he has sent a few emails on their way before I was finished with them.

And so, my confusing, messy, sad, and happy life goes on. And I wouldn’t have it any other way…

To view excerpts of the book or to order it
online, Atwood suggests a visit to the website,
JournalofaMidlifeCrisis.com.