Staci Greason joins the Spotlight this week to discuss her debut contemporary novel, All the Girls in Town
Author Name: Staci Greason
Book Title: All the Girls in Town
Book Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Release Date: July 26, 2022
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Welcome, Staci! Please tell us about All the Girls in Town.
Three smart, sexy, slightly messed-up women join forces to wreak vengeance on the rock star who destroyed their lives. All the Girls in Town explores the cost of loving the wrong person and the true power of friendship in reclaiming the self.
What sparked the idea for this book?
There were a number of sparks that led to the creation of All the Girls in Town. It first ignited when I had a personal experience about the power of women’s shared stories. Many years ago, I used to write about my dating experiences online. (Never using the person’s real name.) After a particularly terrible breakup, several women whose hearts had also been broken by the same person, reached out to me. They’d heard about the writing through mutual friends. During our conversations, we discovered similarities in the way this person emotionally-abused women. It was very healing to learn that I wasn’t alone and that I could also comfort others. It helped me let go of the blame and shame, so that I could focus on transforming the parts of myself that prevented healthy love.
It was a mystical experience. Because I was writing another novel at the time, it didn’t occur to me to write about it.
Fast-forward a decade later, and I’m working on a story about the effects of unhealed trauma in a woman’s life after a painful divorce. This was Dani. She came to me very easily, her internal struggles with food addiction, her poor self-image, a terrible childhood, and an abusive ex-husband, Peter, who’d stolen her lyrics to make his band The Disasters famous. When we first meet Dani, she’s broke and angry, shoving her resentments down with donut holes. After her OA sponsor suggests journaling as a way to process feelings, it hit me that Dani could write a revenge blog about Peter. (My blog had not been about revenge.) It was so much fun to create a character who reveled in being a literary assassin. I let her go full scorched earth. And then I started exploring who might be reading her blog. That’s how Red, Peter’s on-and-off again lover, and his wife, Sasha, were born.
When we first meet them, each woman is so unique and battling different internal and external challenges. It doesn’t appear they’d ever be friends. They can’t stand each other. Peter left Dani for Sasha, his gorgeous backup singer. Red and Dani are both jealous of gorgeous Sasha who also got the house, the money, and the babies. Sasha has a thriving yoga lifestyle brand, but she hates herself. Red has a drinking problem even though she is a counselor. Dani has trouble owning her power.
This novel and its characters are complete works of fiction, but I loved being able to draw from the wisdom of my personal experience to show the power of women’s friendships. It was satisfying to explore how three seemingly very different people could become allies and realize justice together.
I was deep into writing the first draft of All the Girls in Town when the #MeToo movement broken open, and it definitely sparked an urgency to continue in that direction. I wanted the book to be a love letter with an ending that real women deserve in the world.
After the most-recent blow to women’s rights in America, I’m hoping that this story will not only offer solace, but inspire and empower women to unite and not give up on our rights for equality, dignity, and happiness.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?
It takes me about three years to write the first draft of a book. I plot out screenplays, but not novels. I usually having an image in my mind about how I’d like the book to end, but I’m open to exploration on a theme. I let the characters lead me wherever they want to go – into cul-de-sacs, dead-ends, and off on grand adventures that often change where I imagined we might be headed to arrive at the desired destination. Sometimes, a lead character disappears, and I realize it’s another character’s story entirely.
My novel The Last Great American Housewife (2011) was actually about two young people living with a group of eco-terrorists in North California trying to save the last redwood in the world. Very apocalyptic, very dooms day. My writing mentor, the talented and generous writer, Jim Krusoe, read the first four–hundred-page draft. His main note was something along the lines of, “the housewife in the fourth chapter is interesting.” He got me thinking about juxtapositions, interesting ways to express a theme without hammering it over the reader’s head.
Based on that note, I went back and wrote a simple human story about an unhappy housewife living in a tree by the mall to save it from destruction and how she learns about her connections to all things. It was a much better way for me to talk about environmental grief.
That novel was optioned and then I began writing the screenplay adaptation TREED. TREED has gone on to place in numerous prestigious film festivals as well as residencies. I add this to highlight that every book has its own journey.
What drew you to women’s fiction?
Often when strangers find out that I’m a writer their first question is, “do you write romance or women’s fiction?” Why in the hell would I write romance? Ask my husband, he’s the romantic. And, women’s fiction? This publishing industry label for books about women, written by women, really gets my goat (as my granny used to say). As if women’s stories aren’t interesting or valuable to male readers.
One of the novel’s advance readers, who happens to identify as a man, wrote a five-star Goodreads review.
We didn’t create the publishing industry’s model for labeling and marketing books. Writing is a business. Based on my recent publishing experiences, I hope the industry continues to expand its consciousness, even as the big houses gain more control over what the public reads.
Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?
Finish college and get that MFA to make industry connections. Keep writing.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I’ve been very active in my SGI Buddhist community for almost twenty-years. Currently, we chant and study locally on zoom, but I’m hoping soon we’ll be back in the same living rooms.
I grew up in the wilds of Colorado. I’m a big tree-hugger. Spending time with nature is another form of prayer. When I lived in Altadena, CA, I hiked a specific trail in the San Gabriel Mountains almost every day. But then, I fell in love. And he, and his almost-grown teens, lived at the beach. Love triumphed and we were married. Now, we mostly cycle near the water together. I miss forest bathing, and am determined to get back out to the trails after the release of this novel.
During the first wave of the pandemic, I took up gardening, like many others. I hail from a long line of poor farmers who grew their own food and livestock to sell and eat. What I discovered is that I love eating my own fresh food, but if I have a writing project, I’d rather have my head stuck in words than my hands in soil. I do make a point to get outside every day and soak in some nature.
There’s so much scientific evidence that we suffer due to a disconnect from nature. It’s a disconnection to life itself. Buddhism believes that everything is interconnected and this realization gives rise to wisdom for how to live in better harmony with the earth and others.
Lately, I hold this visualization while I’m chanting: I see people stepping outside of their homes, rubbing their eyes like they’ve just awakened from a long dark dream, and looking up with surprise to see blue sky. Then, someone shouts a friendly greeting,” Oh, hello! It’s you!” “Where have you been?” and then another cries out, “Oh, my friend! How I’ve missed you!” Individuals shake their heads wondering, “What overcame me? How did I forget that this person is my friend? Where have we been?”
I think of other nations where this separation caused sufferings we can’t imagine: Bosnia and Serbia, the Tutsi and Hutus, and Nazi Germany. The terror of what happens when neighbors start to see one another as enemies. We have to fight against this human tendency to blame others for our challenges without working together to listen and talk and find a better way. We must forge a place inside of ourselves to expand and not contract. To keep seeing each other. I want to find the courage to believe that Americans will awaken from this dark slumber, this malady of delusion, that has us in its grip, and set ourselves free to be citizens working in harmony again. We don’t all have to be the same to live with peace together.
So, right now, I spend a lot of time each day writing about this, praying about this, and encouraging myself and others. It’s hard not to lose our courage to hope and work for solutions.
I also like to rescue animals. Cook. Travel. See friends and family. And watch good TV with my husband.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
My latest novel is about two agoraphobics who join a survivalist cult located in the California desert at the turn of the millennium. They think they’re fighting to build a more just America, but what they realize is that they must fight to create better lives for themselves.
I wrote the story before 9/11, but it didn’t gain traction. Unfortunately, today, it’s more relevant. It’s a modern-day take on Bonnie & Clyde, but with a happier ending.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live/online events, workshops, too!
You can find it all on my website stacigreason.com
Thank you, Staci! All the Girls in Town is available for preorder!
THREE SMART, SEXY – AND SLIGHTLY SCREWED-UP – WOMEN JOIN FORCES TO WREAK VENGEANCE ON THE RISING ROCK STAR WHO HURT THEM ALL.
Dani, Red, and Sasha have absolutely nothing in common, except the trail of tears bad boy rocker Peter left in his wake. That is, until Dani starts a blog about killing her ex and unwittingly sets the wheels in motion for the women’s paths to collide.
Bonding over past and present wounds, self-realizations transform the three heroines in a trifecta of twelve-step new age therapy that only L.A. can provide.
In a city where discarded muses are a dime a dozen, All the Girls in Town explores the cost of loving the wrong person and the true power of friendship in reclaiming the self.
STACI GREASON’s literary achievements include award-winning television pilots and screenplays. Her short stories and essays have been published in Brevity, Slate, Lunch Ticket, AFLW, the
Same, and Huff Post. In her past life, she played the late Isabella Toscano Black on Days of Our Lives. Staci lives with her husband in Southern California.