Sunday, February 2, 2020


Debuts February 4th! Perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette &  Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High—the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle—and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.

When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.
Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she’s in the spotlight. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school’s winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.
Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. The Liston Heights High student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that addresses parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.

Reviews ~

“A smart and delightful story of entitlement, friendship, and overparenting, with page-turning twists galore. West writes across lines of class and generation with grace and ease. A big-hearted debut."—Bruce Holsinger, author of The Gifted School

“As intriguing as it is timely. West provides a funny and shocking glimpse into American parenting through the lens of an out-of-control stage mother who has lost all sense of boundaries.”—Amy Poeppel, author of Limelight

"Helicopter parenting and high school politics at their worst—and funniest. A smart, fast-paced, and deliciously entertaining debut!"—Meg Donohue, USA Today bestselling author of You, Me, and The Sea

"West offers a sharp, unflinching look at her characters: teachers and administrators trying to do—and keep—their jobs; busy, high-powered parents who buy the best they can for their families; helicopter mothers who see themselves as the omniscient beings who control their children's lives; and the high school students themselves, who sometimes have to learn about kindness and mentoring, bullying and inappropriate behavior by judging their parents' and teachers' actions rather than those of their peers. An excellent, nuanced exploration of the world of high school and the students and adults who live within it."—Kirkus (starred review)
Q & A with Kathleen:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started writing.
I’m a 41-year-old white woman living in Minneapolis. I have a husband, two sons, a dog, and I’ve driven a minivan for the last 10 years. The first time I remember thinking about being a writer was in the fourth grade. I wrote a short story about a pirate and some treasure, and when I shared it with the class, the teacher asked me if I was sure my parents hadn’t helped me. I took this as a great compliment.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I love running. I’ve been a runner for thirty years. I also enjoy cooking, podcasts, my dog, and doing the New York Times mini crossword puzzle. Does that sound suburban, or what?

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I was a teacher for 20 years before writing Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes. Now, I’m all-in on the writing game. It’s an easier leap to make when you have a partner with a steady job, as I do. At some point, I may return to teaching. I’ve always loved it.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or the decision to write?
I was reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng when I decided to finally take the plunge and begin writing a novel. It turns out I’m not ready to write a literary multi-generational family saga, and I bagged my Ng-inspired novel after a year. Then, I leaned into my humor and started something based on my daily experiences working in schools. When people compare me to Liane Moriarty or Amy Poeppel or Maria Semple, I’m thrilled. I love those writers. The novel A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan was also a huge inspiration for me.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The biggest hurdle for me has been getting used to soliciting, processing, and incorporating feedback. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s hard not to read critique as condemnation. You can’t, however, publish a book without executing major revisions in response to feedback, so I keep pushing forward and reframing my own thinking about the writing process.
What are you working on now?
I have turned in my second novel, and while I wait for an edit letter (When the time comes, I’ll try to internalize the feedback without thinking every suggestion is code for, “You suck”), I’m brainstorming new ideas. I’m not the kind of person that has myriad ideas for novels floating about up there in my brain. It takes me a long time to explore and solidify a premise.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Minor Dramas is definitely rooted in my experiences teaching in “elite” suburban schools. However, none of the characters are based on real people, and thank goodness, none of the events in the book happened to me. The only thing that actually comes from my life are the comments the principal gets when he calls parents as part of his investigation of Isobel Johnson, the main character. The parents’ responses are from an anonymous survey I was required to send to my own students’ families. I had 155 students that year, and I got about 20 responses to the survey – 10 from parents who really loved me, and 10 from those that really, really didn’t.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s cheesy, but I repeated it to myself a lot when I was writing, querying, on submission, and still: As Wayne Gretzky famously said (and then Michael Schoot famously quoted), “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Favorite band or music?  Favorite book and/or movie?
I have compiled an excellent playlist on Spotify called “Mom on the Run.” I make my children listen to this in the car when their music puts me over the edge. It’s got Peter Cetera, Ace of Base, Tiffany, Kelly Clarkson… Basically, if you’re a white woman over 40, I think there’s a 90% chance you’ll think it’s the best exercise playlist of all time. Ferris Bueller is a movie I can rewatch, and I’ve loved too many books to name a favorite. Most recently, I’ve added A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti to my list of all-time faves.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading! I’m so humbled and grateful.

To connect with Kathleen:
Twitter: @kwestbooks 
Instagram: @kathleenwestwrites
Facebook: Kathleen West, Author

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