Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Demise of the Soccer Moms

A seemingly quiet suburban neighborhood is upended when a provocative single mother saunters onto the school playground for the first time. Her Doc Marten boots, tight T-shirts, and in-your-face attitude stir up buried fears and sexual anxiety.

In the dark corners of her home, a woman battles crippling memories that threaten to destroy the family she wants so desperately to protect. A suspicious death forces her best friend to make a hard choice between marriage and friendship.

Paranoia, jealousy, and maternal instinct collide, leading to the demise of the soccer moms.

Cathryn Grant’s fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. Her short story, “I Was Young Once” received an honorable mention from Joyce Carol Oates in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest. Two of her flash fiction stories will appear in the anthology, The Best of Every Day Fiction Three.

The Demise of the Soccer Moms is her debut novel. Her second novel, Buried By Debt will be published in November 2011. She is currently working on a psychological suspense novella series featuring Madison Keith, the administrative assistant at First Central Church. Madison has a knack for getting people to reveal their secrets, which helps her unravel the threads that lead to murder.

What will readers like about your book?
Readers who recognize the dark side of suburbia will find characters who echo people they might have met at the neighborhood park. Suspense lovers will enjoy the increasing sense of dread as violence becomes inevitable. If you like psychological suspense, The Demise of the Soccer Moms will keep you turning the pages.

Why did you self publish?
I finished my first publishable novel in late 2009 and started the query process. It was perfect timing because as I studied the business side of writing, I realized that the industry had changed significantly and self publishing was a much more viable option.

Many authors had already paved the way, so I didn’t need to be a trail blazer and could learn from their experiences. I realized very quickly that self publishing would give me more creative control and better royalty percentages. In the end, writers have to find readers with whom their voice resonates, and neither a big six nor small press publisher can do that for you. There was no compelling reason to have a publishing company in the mix.

What is your writing process?
A character or two comes to mind and I start thinking about their stories. I write a list of possible scenes, events that might take place, and from that write a first draft, revising that list as I go. When the first draft is complete, I develop a plot outline and cut everything that doesn’t fit, considering it back story. After writing more back story, I write the second draft and then the editing process begins.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
About two months.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
One day I heard the voice of a suburban woman speaking to her friends in a disapproving tone. She said, “That woman’s not wearing a bra.” I thought about the way women judge each other, and started thinking about this particular woman’s background. The result of listening to this character is The Demise of the Soccer Moms.


THE DOORBELL WOKE Amy from a feverish sleep. The sun was well above the horizon, causing her bedroom curtains to glow like a paper lantern. She heard the front door open and her mother’s voice, calm and friendly. A man spoke, but Amy couldn’t decipher his words. The front door closed. After a moment of silence, a thud shook the walls of the living room and the hallway outside Amy’s bedroom. Her mother yelped. Amy rolled onto her back. The walls shivered again. There was a thick, damp sound like the pounding of her mother’s meat tenderizer on a piece of beef. The man growled, “Shut up.”

Amy sat up and clutched the comforter around her shoulders. “Mommy? Mom?”

Her mother whimpered.

Amy pushed the blankets to the foot of the bed and swung her legs over the edge. Her flannel nightgown was damp with sweat. She tiptoed across the room and opened the bedroom door. The air in the hallway was icy on her neck and face. She crept toward the living room. She dragged her fingertips along the wall, even though she and her sisters were told to keep their hands off the walls.

The man grunted. It was the same sound she heard coming from her parents’ bedroom every Friday night. According to her oldest sister, it was the sound of their parents having sex. She wished her sister would shut up about that. They shouldn’t be listening to their parents when the bedroom door was closed. Her sister said, How can we not?

A man wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt blocked Amy’s view of her mother’s face and most of her body. His black hair was shaved close to his head so his scalp was visible, like her father’s Navy buddies that came over to drink beer and watch football games. His gray slacks were loose around his knees. Below the edge of the shirt was his bare butt, almost as white as the fabric. He drove his hips against her mother’s body as if he wanted to hammer her into the floor. Amy shoved her fingers into her ears, but she could still hear her mother’s mewling, and the animal noises that burst out of the man’s open mouth.

Her mother’s blonde-streaked hair was spread across the carpet, silky as the fur of the neighbor’s cat. The man had her mother’s arms pinched against the floor so they bent at an awkward angle. One arm looked like the broken wing of a seagull Amy had seen on the school playground.



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