I had the privilege to talk with Maggie Hasbrouck about her newest release, Muriel Avenue Sluts, and asked her a few questions about her book and being a writer. Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post. Hashbrouck’s book isn’t one to miss!!
When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
I’m 56 years old, and for my entire working life I’ve been a visual artist. I create large scale paintings that are sold in galleries. It’s a great job and I still do it. But about six years ago, when I was driving home from a late night meeting, a very strong and clear message came to me—write a novel.
I started the next day. I wrote every evening until I completed my first manuscript. It took me three months to finish and another three to edit and revise. Muriel Avenue Sluts is my third novel, and by far the one I am most proud of. These days, I write in the morning and make art in the afternoons.
Tell us about your book and why you wrote it.
The idea for Muriel Avenue Sluts came to me one evening while I was cooking dinner. The title came first, and by the time dinner was ready, I had the bones of the story. I was captivated by the idea of a girl growing up in a brothel, surrounded her whole life by prostitution. How would her views on love, sex, and relationships be different than other teens? Would her peers accept her or would she be bullied? What would her home life be like? How would she approached her first romantic relationship? How would she imagine her future?
I didn’t set out to write an “issue” book, but I quickly realized that women, their bodies, sex, and prostitution are highly charged issues. I couldn’t write this book without taking some sort of a stand. So, here it is; I believe that prostitutes deserve the same respect as everyone else, no more, no less. To that end, I tried very hard to populate Muriel Avenue with likable, relatable characters—normal people who happen to work in the sex trade. I also tried to imagine a place where I would actually want to work, which is why Muriel Avenue is owned and run by the women who work there. They support each other, make good money, have flexible schedules, beautiful working conditions, childcare, generous paid vacations, health insurance, and excellent retirement benefits. The idea that prostitution could be a good job makes some people uncomfortable, and I think it’s something worth thinking about. Why shouldn’t all jobs be decent?
What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
People are people (see above)
Also, this book also touches on rape. The reality is that sexual abuse is unacceptably common—one in nine high school girls are sexually abused. My main character doesn’t deal with this issue very well (to put it mildly). This gets her in a lot of trouble. If you are being abused, or know someone who is, tell someone, ask for help, and keep asking until it stops. I have a list of resources at the end of the book.
What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
There are many, but the first one was To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I had to read it for my sophomore English class, and it was the first book that both touched my heart challenged my worldview.
Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published? Hold yourself to high standards, and act, every day, as if you intend to exceed them.
Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this summer?
I like to surround myself with excellent writing. To that end, I recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Sula by Toni Morrison, and of course, Harry Potter.
Published: April 2017
Add to GoodReads
Where to Buy:
Synopsis: Complete with duct tape, wasp spray, and a healthy dose of sexual tension, MURIEL AVENUE SLUTS is a decidedly feminist coming-of-age story about a seventeen-year-old girl whose mother is a prostitute. #stopslutshaming
Julia Turnbow’s mother gets paid to have sex; that’s just how it is. When Jules turns eighteen she‘ll follow in her mother’s footsteps and begin training to join the exclusive world of Philadelphia’s infamous Muriel Avenue Sluts. Anyway, that’s the plan. But when Jules’s best friend Anna reveals that she’s being abused by one of Muriel Avenue’s gentleman clients, Jules’s world is knocked off its bearings. After a routine haircut and shave, Anna’s abuser falls to his death from a second-story balcony—and Jules is just one of two people who knows exactly what happened.
To complicate matters, Jules dives head first into a friendship with the daughter of the dead man. Greta’s a train wreck: she’s charming, unpredictable, and has one too many questions about Muriel Avenue. Then, Jules puts all of Muriel Avenue at risk with an ill-timed slip of the tongue and she finds herself wanted by the FBI. Running from everything she’s ever cared about, all Jules wants is to get back to the people she loves.
At its heart, Muriel Avenue is a love story. It’s a story about first love and how sex fits into that picture. It’s also a story about love for family and home. This excerpt is from the third chapter, it’s the very beginning my main character’s first-ever romantic relationship.
Anna and I had it all figured out. We were going to share a flat in one of Muriel Avenue’s sturdy, brick row houses—a corner unit with lots of windows. The plan was to work together, splitting shifts when we had children. We’d join a private pool, get a dog, and vacation together, too, at Niagara Falls. Nothing had changed, not really, but lately I’d been thinking about boyfriends. Nobody on Muriel Avenue had a real boyfriend, but in a selfish kind of way, I wanted one. In seven months, I’d be old enough to be a working Slut. Gentlemen would compete for my attention and spend hundreds of dollars for a trip to The Schoolhouse with me. But before that happened, before I got paid to have sex, I wanted to do it with someone who actually loved me. Monday at school, I was thinking about boyfriends and sex and love and how strange it all seemed when I heard a familiar hiss: “Slut girl.” It was Tyler Williams. I was on my way to chemistry class with this guy Charlie, who had been going on about a test or quiz or something. “Slut girl,” Tyler said for the second time.
I bristled but didn’t let myself turn around. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. “Slut girl.” Tyler kept at it.
“What did you say?” Charlie stepped in front of Tyler, causing a little traffic jam in the middle of the hall. Tyler smiled his stupid, I’m-so-clever smile and gave Charlie a little push. Then Charlie hauled off and punched him in the face.
“Shit.” Tyler raised his hands in surrender. “What’s your problem?”
“You and your stupid bullshit, that’s what,” Charlie said.
I just stood there with my mouth half open. Like half the kids in my class, I had known Charlie since kindergarten. He was just a regular guy; I’d never given him a second thought. “That was satisfying.” Charlie put his hand on the small of my back and steered me away from the gathering crowd. “You didn’t need to do that.” I pushed my glasses up my nose. “I mean, I can take care of myself.” We stopped outside of chemistry. “I know,” he said, “but I was just so over his stupid shit.” Charlie was a little taller than me, his eyes more gray than blue, and his nose was almost too big for his face. He smiled at me with half his mouth, and my stomach did a little flip-flop. “It did make me happy to see that little trickle of blood coming from his nose.” I smiled back at Charlie and felt the blood rush to my ears. He had a tiny scar on his right cheek and a smattering of little freckles that looked like they were floating just under his skin.
“Yeah, it was,” Charlie said, and then he cocked his head. “You um, have a little gap between your two front teeth.” “I know.” My tongue went right to it.
“It’s kind of cute,” Charlie said.
“Oh.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say; my brain went completely blank.
“Well, right, see you around.” Charlie smiled at me with his whole face. I looked at the ground and tried to walk casually into chemistry class. And then, without missing a beat, I started thinking about sex.
Maggie Hasbrouck is a professional artist who also writes books. She lives in Atlanta GA with her dog, six chickens, too many cats, and a couple of humans. Her favorite books are ones that ask tough questions, and her favorite paintings are ones that make her cry. Her dream vacation involves riding all the worlds greatest Ferris Wheels..
||WIN a paperback copy of MURIEL AVENUE SLUTS
||Follow me on Amazon for a chance to win!
||Jul 27, 2017 4:40 PM PDT – Aug 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT
||Muriel Avenue Sluts
|Number of Prizes:
||2 instant winners!
I hope you are able to check this book out and good luck with winning a copy of Muriel Avenue Sluts. If you do end up reading this book, let me know what you think! Have a great day 🙂