Susan McBride is one of my favorite new authors - and not just because she writes hilarious books like The Cougar Club, but also because she wants to portray the lives of women who aren't 20 or 30 in a fun way - and as a woman of a certain age who has now rounded the bend from 40 and careened into 41, all I can say is, yay! Read on to hear about her life as an accidental cougar and how she approached writing The Cougar Club.
I’ll admit upfront that I’m an accidental Cougar. I never set out to bag a younger dude, I don’t drink martinis, and I’m not overly fond of animal print. When I met Ed five years ago, I realized three things right off the bat: he was cute, smart, and nine years my junior. I’d never dated a younger guy before and had certainly never “hunted” men like prey so I guess I made a pretty lousy Cougar. In fact, I lost his business card the next day. Thankfully, Ed did the pursuing. He took me to my first-ever hockey game and “bought” me at a charity auction. We fell in love and married two years ago this February.
When I was asked to write a chick lit novel carried by forty-something females, I jumped at the chance. I could depict women growing older gracefully with humor and heart, fluff and substance, kind of like a really gooey S’more with organic chocolate…bliss! After penning mysteries and a juvenile series with much younger protagonists, I was more than ready to write about grown-up women. Being over forty, surviving breast cancer, and settling down made me ache to spend time with characters that were closer to my own age and experience. With The Cougar Club, I got my wish.
I envisioned Kat, Carla, and Elise right away: three 45-year-old friends at mid-life crossroads who come back together in St. Louis, supporting each other through thick and thin. Kat’s a successful ad agency exec, Carla’s a beloved anchorwoman, and Elise is a dermatologist with a thriving practice. Then Kat gets down-sized, Carla realizes the station’s GM is about to replace her with a newer model, and empty-nester Elise believes her plastic surgeon husband has lost interest. None of them fits the faux-tanned and Botoxed-to-death stereotype of a Cougar. Kat’s down-to-earth, Elise is a married mom, and Carla is…well, Carla’s a diva. They live by the motto that you’re never too old to follow your heart while struggling with being middle-aged in a society that doesn’t treat middle-age kindly. Like so many of us, they’re seeking passion, in their careers and in love; and each of them, in different ways, finds it.
All writers have unique visions for their “babies.” Mine is that Kat, Carla, and Elise will make readers feel better about growing older (or, at least, like they aren’t in it alone). I hope, too, that their refusal to fade into the background will encourage more women over forty to live their best lives and never ever give up their dreams!