When writer Aimee Molloy set out to write her very first novel, she tells VINAZINE, “I had no idea what I was doing”—even typing in Google, “How do you write a novel?”
It turns out, Molloy never needed to worry about it. Her novel, “The Perfect Mother“, was released on May 1 and immediately was on The New York Times Best-Sellers List. Even more badass? Before it was published, TriStar preemptively acquired rights to the novel, with Kerry Washington attached to star in the film, as well as produce.
Based on her personal experience as a new mom, Molloy’s novel explores the intense haze that comes with having a new baby. The book centers around a Brooklyn Mommy Group, who meet up each week to socialize as they adjust to their role as new moms. When one mom in the group suggests a much-needed moms night out (sans babies), the night takes a dark turn when one mother learns that her baby has been abducted from his crib. What follows is a thrilling page-turner, filled with mystery and most importantly, a closer look into the pressures of new motherhood and the societal expectations that comes along with it.
In our exclusive Q&A with Molloy, we talked about everything from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety to the importance of her own Mommy and Writers’ Group. Read on for more!
Q: Hi, Aimee! Thanks for talking to VINAZINE about The Perfect Mother. What has been it like to hear the reactions to it?
A: It’s been so lovely. When you write a book, it’s such a solitary experience, especially with your first novel. I didn’t even have an agent at the time and you’re writing it at first and thinking, Is this ever going to be good enough to show to anybody? And then you’re like, OK it’s done, is this going to be good enough to get an agent? And then you get the agent and then you wonder if you’ll get a publisher and publicist. So by the time it gets out to the world and to the readers, and you hear that people are connecting to it, I don’t know, it’s amazing! And the thing I appreciate the most is that the mystery part of it is exciting, but the experience of being a new mom is what most readers really want to talk about. And to me, that is what I always wanted to explore the most. The issues of becoming a mother, and the pressures of it. I love that people see that this is really what the book is about.
Q: When you have a baby, they say it takes a village to raise your child. In The Perfect Mother, we meet new moms who join a Mommy Group. Are these Mommy Groups the new “village”, since so many new moms find themselves living further away from their families, compared to generations past?
A: It’s interesting. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I found out I was pregnant on January 1, and on January 2, I left for West Africa for several weeks to work on a non-fiction book I was writing about this woman who was working with women and children in very rural parts of Senegal to bring them education. Nobody knew I was pregnant, but I really saw what it was like to have a child in these villages. Of course, there was the child’s mother, but every other woman in the tribe played a part in raising the baby. That was really in my mind when I wrote the book. When I joined my own Mommy Group in Brooklyn, it was something I never really thought I’d do—I’d see these moms meeting with their newborns and I was like, I don’t think I’ll ever do that. And then I did it, and these women were such an integral part of making me feel confident in having this newborn kid when I was terrified, thinking, am I going to be able to keep it alive?
I used to be snooty about Mommy Groups … making fun of them in my head—they’re all in yoga pants, pushing the same stroller around, they’re all so exhausted, that just looks miserable to me, I’ll never join one. And now when I see it, my heart fills so much. I think, thank God they have each other. Because they probably don’t have family here to help them.
Q: A new study reported that depression in pregnant millennial women is higher than their mothers’ generation. In The Perfect Mother, you beautifully covered the everyday struggles and emotions that new moms have. How could you relate to those emotions? Did you struggle with PPD or PPA?
A: I had my second baby 20 months after my first, and only after I had my 2nd was when I realized I didn’t feel so anxious this time around. I was thinking back to how I felt when I had my first, and I was like, Oh my gosh, that was torture. I wasn’t depressed, but I was really anxious. And it made me really explore postpartum anxiety, which is different than postpartum depression. I was in my childbearing ages when I remember Brooke Shields publicly talking about PPD. It was such a big deal for an actress to come out and admit to having PPD. I give her so much credit for doing that, because where we are now—thank God we have broken down these barriers. My mother would be really supportive of me if I was depressed, but not everyone’s my mother’s age would be supportive if I had depression. I think the thought is, What are you sad about? You had a baby! You’re supposed to be happy! When I hear people say that, it makes me crazy. Like you’re supposed to be happy because you had a baby … and those two things have nothing to do with each other.
Q: Do you think there is too much pressure on new moms today? Do you think social media plays a part?
A: I don’t really do social media too much, but it’s just like anything else, like politics today. There’s so much information—it’s constantly in your face, so it’s hard to escape it. You have to weed through it and decide what’s worth your time and what’s not. The same goes for motherhood. The messages you receive are just so conflicting—from sleep training to formula. For me, the trick was to have a second kid. A lot of it goes away because you don’t have the time to stress about it. The pressure is off and you can just trust your instincts.
Q: Did you identify with a certain character the most?
A: Not really, I think they are all elements of me. Collette is probably my struggles professionally, since she’s a ghost-writer. When I had my first, I had to go back to writing four days after her birth. So I hired a babysitter and I would sit in my bedroom and look at pictures of my baby, crying, while the sitter would sit in the living room with my baby. I was able to work through a lot of that with Colette. Francie is the little kid in me, the anxious part of me, the “Am I going to screw it up?”
Q: At Hey! VINA, our mission is to connect women with their tribe, whether it be by joining our New Moms Community or our Blogging Community. I read in an interview with you how imperative your writing group was to getting this novel done. Can you talk more about your tribes and the importance of them?
A: Totally. I would not have written this book without my writing group. It’s a group of five women, who are all moms. It became an amazing community. They were so honest with me. They told me when it sucked when I needed to hear that it sucked. And at the same time I had the Mom Group thing happening, and two of my best friends in N.Y. are people who I met through those groups. We transcended the mom group thing, and now we’re just friends friends.
My husband and I are currently contemplating a move out of New York, and the thing I think about the most is: Will I have a community of women when I get to a new place? The good thing with kids is you have this built-in community with school, but you don’t always connect with everybody. So how do you find your tribe? So I’m going to check out you guys immediately. I think that’s awesome!
Q: How did you find your writing group?
A: Through a good friend of mine. She was in a serious writing group, and she told me, if you do a writing group, make it serious. I found one that met every other Tuesday and you had to show up and ready to discuss everything. I decided on January 1 to spend a year writing this novel and I was invited to spend three nights at a country house with other writers and get started. I thought, I can’t do that, I don’t know them, they’re all real writers, and I’m going to feel like an outsider. My husband was like, “If you want to write this novel, you have to take it seriously.” So I was like, OK I’m going. But before I went, I Googled, “How do you write a novel?” I had no idea what I was doing.
Q: What is your best advice for vinas who want to get published?
A: Write every day and take it seriously. Claim it as your time to write. The thing with writing is you’re not getting paid for it, and you might never get paid for it. So that’s a hard thing to realize. Join a writing group that keeps you accountable, follow deadlines and go for it. Also, keep reading. If you want to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. You just have to do it!
Q: The Perfect Mother is going to be on the big screen with Kerry Washington starring as Winnie. Any other casting dreams?
A: Not really! But the one person is Seth Meyers. I developed a crush on him with how he’s covering politics. I want him play Token.
Q: Would you write a sequel?
A: That would be interesting. Maybe revisit the moms when they are 70!
We’d love to read that! Thanks for talking to The VINAZINE, Aimee! Vinas, if you haven’t picked up “The Perfect Mother” yet, be sure to. And don’t forget that your tribe on Hey! VINA is waiting for you, whether you’re a lit-lover, a new mom or a blogger with dreams of being published one day. Go out and find your tribe today!