Laura Marx Fitzgerald: UNDER THE EGG

With just a little over a month until launch day, we thought we’d squeeze in an introduction to Laura Marx Fitzgerald, author of the upcoming middle-grade mystery, UNDER THE EGG.

Welcome, Laura, and submit to the questions of four!

 

So, you’re getting published. How’d that happen?

After my kids were born, I quit my full-time job to work from home as a copywriter. I’d never written any fiction before, but I couldn’t shake this tickly idea in the back of my head. Something about a painting, maybe a historical puzzle, maybe an old-fashioned girl living in modern-day New York. I was reading books like A.S.Byatt’s Possession, and re-reading childhood favorites like The Westing Game, and I loved the idea of writing a complex mystery for kids.

I wrote bits and scraps wherever I could—between projects, during naptime, when the kids were in the gym playroom. When I turned 40, my husband and I talked about taking some kind of trip to celebrate. But I realized I didn’t want to take a trip—I wanted to finish my book. So instead of calling a travel agent, I called my clients and said I was taking two months off from work to finish my novel.

Two months later, I had a finished, polished draft. Two weeks after that, I had an agent. Two weeks after that, I had an offer!

I am very, very glad I didn’t celebrate my 40th at that resort with the swim-up bar.

 

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

UNDER THE EGG is an art history mystery, where priceless paintings (and family secrets) are discovered. Here’s the blurb:

Only two people know about the masterpiece hidden in the Tenpenny home—and one of them is dead.

The other is Theodora Tenpenny. Theo is responsible for tending the family’s two-hundred-year-old town house, caring for a flock of unwieldy chickens, and supporting her fragile mother, all on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. So, when Theo discovers a painting in the house that looks like a priceless masterpiece, she should be happy about it. But Theo’s late grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and if the painting is as valuable as she thinks it is, then her grandfather wasn’t who she thought he was.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all over Manhattan and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

What’s cool about the book (in my opinion) is how true to life it is. It’s been funny reading some of the early reviews that question certain plot twists, when those very same plot twists were based on real-life events. Can you really ask a hospital to x-ray a painting? Just ask this guy. Would a major auction house really overlook an Old Master painting? It’s happened before.

My website is a great place to learn more. For the facts behind the fiction and more surprising art discoveries, check out: LauraMarxFitzgerald.com

 

What would we be surprised to know about you?

Anyone who meets me will not be surprised to know that I was a big nerd in high school. Nor will you be surprised to hear that I was on our school “Brain Brawl” team, where we scorned letter jackets and other social currency for the chance to answer trivia questions on a local cable channel.

What you might be surprised to know is how I turned that nerd training into cold hard cash on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I won $64,000, just for knowing useless facts like the location of the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Kids, you know how adults always tell you to stay in school? This is why.

 

We can’t leave without asking: top five desert island books?

–       Possession by A.S.Byatt – Pulls double duty as a mystery and a poetry collection

–       The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – Pulls double duty as a mystery and a graduate course on medieval intellectual history (if you’re into that kind of thing)

–       True Grit by Charles Portis – Sheer fun and the most winning narrative voice I’ve ever read

–       The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – Good for getting lost in Gilded Age opulence while simultaneously making you grateful you don’t live in the Gilded Age.

–       The Little House series (yes, I cheated) by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Literary comfort food, moral guide, and, on a desert island, a fun-to-read survival primer.

In writing UNDER THE EGG, Laura Marx Fitzgerald drew on her study of art history at Harvard and Cambridge Universities. Though she grew up Down South, today she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids (and a dog, if the two kids keep begging). UNDER THE EGG is her debut novel, launching in March 2014 by Dial/Penguin.
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