Monday, September 17, 2007

Interview with Kimberly Stuart

Captain's Log, Stardate 09.17.2007
Today I have an interview with mom lit author Kimberly Stuart about her latest novel, Bottom Line!

Heidi Elliott has joined the elite ranks of stay-at-home moms--a world of cartoons, toys, and a significant lack of grown-up conversation. When her husband's business experiences financial problems, Heidi decides to take a part-time job selling lingerie with her new (and very well-off) friends, Kylie and Russ Zimmerman. But in juggling the competing demands of home and high fashion, Heidi discovers that Kylie's faith may lack authenticity, while Russ's concept of marriage may lack fidelity. And with a precocious toddler distracting her--not to mention the niggling idea of having another!--she finds herself torn between living comfortably and standing on her principles.

Irreverent and entertaining (how can motherhood be anything but?), Heidi Elliott's happily chaotic world is filled with colorful characters, including a clog-wearing legalist, a best friend who skips town to travel the globe, and a sassy four-year-old who always says whatever she wants. Bottom Line provides a humorous and knowing look at a mom's life.

And now, here’s me and Kimberly!

How did you come up with the storyline for Bottom Line?

I like to think about what can happen when you put a well-adjusted, mostly sane character in nutty situations. I had grown to really like Heidi from her experiences in Balancing Act but wanted to see what she’d do with a sassy preschooler, a tight budget, and a multilevel marketing scheme. Add in that she’d sell “Christian” lingerie, and I had the nuts and bolts for a good story.

Bottom Line is comedic fiction. It’s supposed to make you laugh, preferably until something starts to hurt. But I also wanted a story that could tease out questions about more serious subjects, like body image, legalism in the church, the under-appreciation of stay-at-home parents. So when I’m thinking of a story, I want the possibility to take the reader on a journey of both laughter and poignancy. My mother assures me that in Bottom Line, I most certainly DID. All responses to the contrary can be directed to her.

If your heroine, Heidi, were a pet, what would she be, what would her name be, and why?

Heidi would definitely be a beagle named Bennett. A beagle because I’m pining for one but can’t quite take the plunge until my children are old enough to utilize the poop scoop with confidence. And Bennett because my husband is convinced this is the best name for a dog. It was the name of our air conditioning repairman this summer, a man we all grew to know and love, and my husband just won’t let it go. Poor Heidi would have some gender issues with a man’s name, but let’s not get into that.

You might or might not know that I LOVE FOOD. What’s your favorite place to eat in Des Moines and why? (And no, you can’t say McDonald’s because of their kiddie play area.)

Well. I’m so pleased you asked this question because I, too, am fond of food. Sometimes I fear I like it too much and would happily neglect more important things, such as my children, good hygiene, or fire safety, were there the opportunity to consume a bittersweet chocolate lava cake, for example. In Des Moines, I highly recommend Sage, which offers fresh and inspired seasonal cuisine all year round. The last time I was there, Marc and I shared selections from their summer tapas menu, all of which made me do internal backflips of joy. I also love Centro (great flatbread pizzas), Tandoor (fantastic Indian food, as well as a hummus good enough to make one’s eyes roll back into one’s head), and Café Su (delicious Chinese food in our historic Valley Junction neighborhood). My children love the tacos at Panchero’s. Homemade tortillas, people. Can you blame them?

So now when you’re visiting Des Moines to see the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair, to visit the Science Center of Iowa with your kids (very clean restrooms), or to participate in the bloodbath that is the Iowa caucus season, you’ll know where to go fill your belly.

If your children were desserts, what would each be and why?

Ana (nearly five) would be a flourless chocolate espresso cake with raspberry sauce. Perfect balance of sweet, depth, and sauce. Mitchell (nearly two) would be a warm toffee cake right out of the oven with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream. He’s the cuddler and one who can make you melt. He also tends to be sticky, for reasons I usually cannot explain.

You’re off the hot seat! Any parting words?

Thanks for the interview, Camy! And thanks for reading, Mom! Go ahead and click to and drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!

Camy here: Thanks for being here with us, Kimberly!