January 21, 2009

Memoir & Writing: Annette Fix, author of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir

The Author

Annette Fix published numerous articles and editorials in her high school newspaper, located in a town full of trailer parks and meth labs. She moved on to write a campus lifestyle column for a community college newspaper until her 4.0 grade-point average propelled her into a private university.

Once there, she worked 40 hours a week in a government job, attended school fulltime, and cared for her beautiful toddler son (the direct result of a nightclub drinking and dancing accident). Annette dropped out of college 8 units short of graduation because she refused to rewrite her thesis. She still believes absurdist theatre is a vital contribution to world dramaturgy.

Annette went on to have grand aspirations of writing the next great American novelty. On her journey toward that lofty goal, she often found inspiration while busting her tail working as an exotic dancer to support her son and feed her writing habit.

She is currently designing ancillary merchandise such as T-shirts, chocolate-scented perfume, and an emaciated action figure to promote her memoir, The Break-Up Diet. These products will be sold in the alley after her spoken-word readings.

Annette lives in Laguna Niguel, California with her Prince Charming, teenage son, and two rescued dogs.

Wanna learn more about The World of Annette? There's a slew of places online to get the 411:

The Book

Annette Fix always believed in happily-ever-after and was busy working her Five-Year Plan: marry her golf-pro boyfriend, homeschool her preteen son, become a famous writer, and retire to Fiji. When her live-in boyfriend calls it quits, Annette finds herself on The Break-Up Diet, consuming vast amounts of chocolate and exercising by diving blindly into the shallow end of the dating pool.

Working as an exotic dancer to bankroll her aspiring writing career and support her son alone, Annette uses her blue-collar instinct to survive in the plastic jungle of The OC.

Annette’s adventures take her on a wild ride as she attempts find the perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

“The Break-Up Diet is delicious. Heartbreaking and humorous...any woman can relate.” ~ Jill Soloway, author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, and writer for ABC's Grey's Anatomy

"In this delectable memoir, Annette Fix serves up a fresh, funny, honest, and insightful dish of sex and the single mom." ~ Colleen Sell, editor of A Cup of Comfort series

Click the cover above to order THE BREAK-UP DIET today!

On Memoir Writing

What do you think is the lure of memoirs for readers?
Personally, I love memoir. I find it so much more fascinating to know the characters are real and the events in the story actually occurred. I still read fiction, but in the back of my mind, I know the author is placing herself in the world of the characters and trying to imagine what she would do if she were confronted with the internal and external forces driving their actions. I don’t believe anyone really knows what they’ll do until they’re actually in any given situation.

For example, there have been two occasions when I was held at gunpoint. Once was an attempted kidnap/rape by a gang member when I was 18. The other was a murder suspect who had just shot and killed two people; I was 25 that time. I’ve discovered when I’m in potentially deadly situations, I become extremely calm, focused, and quite calculated about what I say and do to get away unharmed. Or maybe I’m just lucky… So, how does that relate to memoir vs. fiction? I’d rather hear the story of someone who really lived through those experiences than read an author’s speculation about what her character might do when held at gunpoint.

I think that’s why reality television shows have become so popular. People are curious about what other people will do and say, how they live, what they think, how they behave, what they’ve faced. Truth is often so much stranger than fiction. And conflict, a writer’s most essential storytelling tool, is automatically present in daily human interaction. Some of those real actions and reactions are so bizarre; you just couldn’t make them up.

I believe the choice to read memoir is the same reason why people slow their cars and crane their necks to look at traffic accidents. They have a desire to see what has happened to someone else.

Do you think there is a bit of egotism on the part of the writer who focuses on memoirs as a way to “tell stories?”
Funny, this question has come up in my mind several times since I began writing my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir. Whenever people asked about the manuscript I was working on, I felt very self-conscious telling them it was a memoir. The tone of their “Oh.” response always left me to interpret that the unspoken rest of their reply was: “So, why do you think you’re important enough, that your life is interesting enough, or that anyone would care about your story?”

On those occasions, it may have been my inner critic doing what he does. But, your question does support the prevailing thought that memoirists must think their life experiences are somehow more story-worthy than the average person’s. A writer with a certain amount of humility may feel others perceive it egotistical to write memoir. I know that feeling occasionally causes me to pause whenever I’m asked to explain what my memoir is about. But, for me, it doesn’t have anything to do with ego.

I believe in the adage “write what you know”; a memoirist takes this advice literally. (Pun intended.) The key to writing a memoir is to find a message or an understanding of your life experience that makes it story-worthy. One person’s life is a microcosm of what’s happening around the world. There is no topic or experience that isn’t universal—it has happened, is happening, or will happen to someone else. Whether it’s a single mother bouncing back after a relationship break-up (The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir); a woman growing up with a dysfunctional family (The Glass Castle: A Memoir); a young woman forced to give up her child for adoption (Without A Map: A Memoir); a college student dealing with the emotional trauma of rape (Lucky: A Memoir), the sharing of these stories connects the reader and the writer on an authentic level.

The emails I receive from readers are an affirmation of that belief. I’ve corresponded with many women who have shared their personal break-up stories with me and told me how my story has given them hope that they will find Mr. Right. It’s the best feeling in the world to know your story has touched someone, and offered encouragement and hope.

I’m becoming more comfortable with the self-appointed title of memoirist and am coming to terms with the fact that if I was egotistical enough to write one memoir, I must surely be a megalomaniac for planning to write the next one. LOL


To read more about memoir writing, check out Annette's article, "Drawing from Your Life to Create...Your Story" @ WOW: Women on Writing.


Because she's just TOO cool, Annette was a featured author in our November talk on being a female writer. Check out her feature HERE!

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