Glatt’s, Greenberg’s Abigail Iris Sequel Set for March ReleasePublished: February 1, 2010
The names of CSULB’s Lisa Glatt and Suzanne Greenberg shine from both paperback and hard covers this spring with the arrival of their two children’s novels.
This month, Glatt and Greenberg of the English Department greeted the paperback edition of their first success together, Abigail Iris: The One and Only, and will be followed in March by the hardcover edition of their sequel, Abigail Iris: The Pet Project, both from Walker Books/Bloomsbury USA.
“I don’t know why audiences respond to Abigail Iris but I know that she makes me laugh,” said Glatt, whose novel A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That has been optioned for a film by producer Andrew Wagner and whose next novel, The Nakeds, saw its movie rights sold to Vox 3 Films’ Steven Shainberg, who directed ‘Secretary’ and ‘Fur.’
“I think Abigail’s dilemma is universal, really,” said Greenberg, who won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize from the University of Pittsburgh for Speed-Walk and Other Stories. “She has a large family and wants to be an only child. Don’t we all want what we don’t have – or at least daydream about what we might be missing? Also, she gets to stay at a fancy hotel in San Francisco and order room service – who doesn’t love that?”
Iris is a plucky miniature heroine facing the same straitened circumstances as the rest of the United States, which means no beach cruiser with handlebar tassels, no cell phone and no bedroom of her own. She gets to go on vacation to the Sir Frances Drake Hotel in San Francisco with one of her “only” friends only to see the trip cut short in favor of a family camping trip.
In her new adventure, Greenberg explains, Abigail convinces her parents that she needs a kitten for her half-birthday present. (She also has to convince them that a half-birthday is an actual cause for celebration!) “It turns out that her sister, Victoria, has serious allergies to cats. Meanwhile, Abigail Iris’ half-brothers’ old dog, who lives with them at their other house, is dying; one of her Only friends’ is about to become an Only-no-more when her mother has a baby; and Eddie, the teenage brother she adores, has a new girlfriend,” she said. “A little more serious, `The Pet Project’ is about life/death/loss–all those fun themes.”
Glatt is confident in her writing partnership with Greenberg. “It was smooth from the beginning,” said Glatt, who joined the university in 2000. “We just get along really well. If anything has evolved, then perhaps it’s that our Abigail Iris-voice (the books are in the first person) blend better with each book.”
While fans have a certain amount of say in their books, Greenberg says the final authority rests with the authors. “Lisa and I have our own plans for Abigail Iris,” said Greenberg, who joined the university in 1995. “It’s fun to see what they respond to and which characters they like. Genevieve has been a favorite, which is sort of a surprise because she’s a bit bossy but I think this makes her fun, too, She says what’s on her mind.”
Both authors agree some of their best ideas come from home.
“I think about my niece Abigail and my nephews Michael, Jason and Tommy in San Diego and what they’re up to and I am always interested when Suzanne has stories about her amazing, funny kids,” said Glatt, who followed her CSULB bachelor’s with a Master of Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College.
“I watch my son, who’s in third grade now, at the playground and listen to his friends talk,” said Greenberg, who received her B.A. in English from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Maryland and is the coauthor of Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink. “They’re hilarious and I love to observe all the interactions. And my other children are both teenagers now, so they provide great perspective on Abigail Iris’ siblings.”
Greenberg is at work on a novel about homeschooling set in Southern California. Her Speed-Walk and Other Stories was a finalist for the 2004 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Glatt’s husband, UC Irvine faculty member David Hernandez, is the author of two young adult novels, recently finished his third book of poems and is working on his third novel titled Animal Control. Glatt’s short story collection The Apple’s Bruise came out in 2005 and her poetry includes Shelter and Monsters and Other Lovers.
There’s a bright future ahead for Abigail Iris. “We just found out that the foreign rights for the first two books sold to Turkey and I’ve love to see other countries obtain rights, too,” said Glatt. Added Greenberg, “We finished revising our third one, Abigail Iris: Happy Camper, to our agent’s satisfaction, so we’re hopeful our publisher wants to keep going with the series. We’d love to do some books possibly from Billy Doil’s perspective, as well. He’s one of Abigail Iris’ friends with a lot of possibilities.”
When Abigail Iris returns in March, her readers can expect a peek at Long Beach, said Glatt. “For Abigail’s next adventure, you can expect a lot of Long Beach itself — the Farmer’s Market at the Marina, 2nd Street, etc., plus a pet adoption that doesn’t go quite like Abigail wants it to go.”
Greenberg hopes Iris’ readers keep enjoying the simple pleasures of growing up. “I like the way Abigail Iris wants things,” she said. “It’s not that she really wants things that cost money either. She wants a kitten. She wants good friends. She wants to go to camp. She wants to roller skate down the hallway of a fancy hotel. She wants to make someone feel happy who’s sad. I guess what I hope is readers will appreciate her engagement in the world and want to be engaged themselves. There’s nothing sadder than an apathetic child, someone who doesn’t just crave life.”