Monday, May 12, 2014

Julia Fierro, Author of Cutting Teeth, Shares Her Guiltiest Pleasures + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Cutting Teeth
Julia Fierro

One of the most anticipated debut novels of 2014, Cutting Teeth takes place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.

Nicole, the hostess, struggles to keep her OCD behaviors unnoticed. Stay-at-home dad Rip grapples with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves. Allie, one half of a two-mom family, can’t stop imagining ditching her wife and kids in favor of her art. Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into, flirts dangerously, and spars with her best friend Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. Throughout the weekend, conflicts intensify and painful truths surface. Friendships and alliances crack, forcing the house party to confront a new order.

Cutting Teeth is about the complex dilemmas of early midlife—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It’s about class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life’s greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s warm and unpretentious debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and compromise that underpins that love.

My Guiltiest Pleasures... and What They've Taught Me

My guiltiest pleasure is staying up late into the wee hours of the night knitting and watching TV show after TV show, especially when I am in love with a series. Right now, I’m binge-watching Orphan Black each night. Tatiana Maslay, the actress who plays at least five different characters in the show, is my shero.

If I’m not enamored with a TV series, I’m up late listening to audiobooks— mostly true crime investigative journalism, what I’ve heard book critics call “New Journalism.” Or historical nonfiction—my favorites are books that focus on the turn of the century in America and Europe.

I know what you’re thinking. Staying up late to knit and watch TV or listen to audiobooks doesn’t sound that guilt-worthy. But when you’re a mother to two young children, a small business owner (I founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002), launching a debut novel, and teaching creative writing, every free moment is precious. Instead of using that time more wisely, like catching up on sleep, I grab my current knitting project—probably a baby blanket for a friend or a shawl for myself— hurry to the couch and stream my new favorite TV series.

Luckily, or unluckily, I’ve been an insomniac since I was a child, much like the character Nicole in Cutting Teeth. My natural night owl tendencies came in handy when I was writing Cutting Teeth, and while my husband and two children (one an infant, the other a preschooler) snored in the bedroom, I typed as fast as I could to keep up with the developing story of Cutting Teeth.

My TV binging has had a surprising benefit to my writing. Watching television series at a marathon pace, devouring two or more episodes a night, has taught me much about crafting novels. The episodic structure of a TV series is similar to the chapters of a novel. I’ve learned valuable techniques from my all-night viewing sessions of Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica, and more, particularly about the “architecture” of structuring a novel. My understanding of some of the most significant aspects of crafting a novel was developed through my late night TV habit. Techniques I picked up from the TV writers include: how to seamlessly deliver information so the situation of the novel is clear, how to create momentum so the reader wants to keep reading, how to reveal the characters’ secrets and motivations gradually, and how to draw a story-line out so it feels worthy of hundreds of pages.

My midnight audiobook-listening has had its own benefits. Not only have I listened to wonderful books, and learned so much about engaging storytelling, I’ve also knitted some beautiful projects, including eight baby blankets gifted to friends, shawls, washcloths, hats and sweaters for my children, and silk scarves for my editor and literary agent. Knitting is my meditation, and often feels like the one soothing practice that prevents me from falling apart under the weight of work and family responsibilities. I sometimes think about the characters in Cutting Teeth with their many worries and fears and obsessions and wonder if a little late night knitting/audiobooking/TV watching habit would have helped them find a bit of peace.

A few of my favorite audiobooks (all can be found on
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
  • Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet
  • Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King
  • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
  • Lost Girls by Robert Kolker
  • Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
  • Broken Harbour by Tana French
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

About the Author

Julia Fierro is the author of Cutting Teeth, her debut novel from St. Martin's Press, out now. Cutting Teeth was recently included in Library Journal's "Spring Best Debuts" and on "Most Anticipated Books of 2014" lists by HuffPost Books, Brooklyn Magazine and Marie Claire.

Julia's work has been published, or is forthcoming, in Guernica, Poets & Writers, Ploughshares, and other publications, and she has been profiled in the L Magazine, The Observer, and The Economist.

In 2002, she founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and what started as eight writers meeting in her Brooklyn kitchen has grown into a creative home for over 2000 writers. She is a graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow, and currently teaches the Post-MFA workshops at Sackett Street.

Julia lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two small children.


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished print copy of Cutting Teeth—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:

What's your guiltiest pleasure?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Julia and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC and St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends May 26th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US/Can residents only—sorry, everyone else! Check out my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!