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Amy Klinger, Vermont’s first novelist, takes us back to 1990s office life.

Amy Klinger, Vermont’s first novelist, takes us back to 1990s office life.

Amy Klinger’s fiction is a fun, witty, and sardonic novel that will take you back to a simpler age that was not so simple.

It’s a novel which will feel very much like real life for anyone who worked in office environments in the 1990s and into the 21st centuries, up to recent events, when coronavirus brought about a sea change in the way people approach the workplace. Recent EventsAmy Klinger is the debut novel by Richmond author.

Mitch Wertlieb, VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb, spoke with Klinger about his book. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and clarity.

Mitch Wertlieb – I have always loved antiheroes, both in movies and books. This is to say that flawed characters can be identified as good people. They are just trying to navigate a complex world with minimal conflict and friction. Audrey Romer, the protagonist of this book, ticks all those boxes. Where does Audrey work? What would you say about Audrey’s general philosophy regarding working in the 1990s?

Amy Klinger is a publisher and educational textbooks publisher. She is in middle management, which is a mix of the administrative and senior management sides. She finds work not very inspiring. She finds it difficult to imagine herself climbing up the corporate ladder for different reasons. She’s maintaining close relationships at both.

Pooter is also her partner in crime. He is a confidant on the one hand, but also someone who shares her cynical outlook. It feels like you could have chosen a simpler route by giving Audrey a foil who is really different from her like a true Type A go-getter. But instead Pooter is very similar to her in his disgust for office culture and the people who work there.

Why did this book have such a dynamic relationship type of anchor?

I find workplace environments fascinating because they are made up of random people, with different personalities, and it isn’t natural. I believe that when you are in that environment, you will often find your people. They are the ones who you can rely on to get you through the day.

That is how she and Pooter function together. It was a common phrase used by many people to refer to it as “This is the wife of my job,” or “This is the spouse of my work.” This dynamic to me feels very real. Nearly in every environment, there are people with whom you feel truly connected. They become your family when you’re not there for eight hours or more. It’s comforting to know you have a friend, and Pooter is that buddy for her.

Audrey’s chief conflict is her affair with a coworker, who is actually her boss and heads her department. He is married to Patricia, a beautiful upper-class woman. There’s a tension-filled scene in which Audrey sees Patricia shopping at a supermarket. She follows her around like a detective and is unable to look away. Later on, she finds herself in bed with Dan, Patricia’s husband, and her boss, when Audrey experiences an incredible moment of revelation. It would be interesting if you could take a few lines from the moment Audrey realizes something really struck her.


“It took mental digging to figure out why. It was as if I had picked up a sharp-edged stone and found a leggy, squirming creature trying to escape the sunlight. This realization made me realize that something had been bothering my over the past few weeks. I was being baited and switched. I was not my mistress. I was the Mrs.; the homebody; the read-a-book buddy; the cook, dining, and grocery shopper. Patricia, who traveled the world and returned to town to visit celebrity fundraisers and gallery openings. She was eager to have sex with Dan. Patricia was Patricia’s mistress.

Audrey is realizing that this moment is a turning point in her life. I was wondering how you made her strong in an environment where she could easily become timid and mousy.

She was a middle manager, she was always there for me, and she didn’t have a mature relationship.

However, I didn’t want her to appear weak. Although she clearly understands who she is, she is not very driven. She feels like she’s comfortable and is afraid to move out of her comfort zone. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel strong feelings about who she really is and where she is going. She is clear-eyed to my surprise.

Yes, she is a thinking person. Despite some of the difficult choices she’s made that make her life more difficult, she’s a charming character.

Your ability to write in a fluid, graceful style is one of the strengths of this novel. The forward momentum in this book is so strong that it almost floats the reader along. It was difficult to write it. It’s not easy to write great writing. Your A blog post is a page that features a blog.It took a lot of time to put this book together.

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What was the most difficult part of writing this book and, more importantly, how did you persevere?

I think that I didn’t have an end game for a while. I worked on it in some ways like someone who would work on an old car in the garage. It was just a hobby and I didn’t know if the car would ever see the light of day. These characters became my favorite characters and I enjoyed writing them. So I didn’t feel any sense of urgency.

It took me 10+ years to write this book. I didn’t think it would have taken so long, but I had to work full-time and raise my daughter. It was just something that I did until I felt like enough people were interested in it. It was a full-fledged tale. I decided to start to market it to agents. I spent over a year doing that, and got some very polite and encouraging rejections.

I found this book to be a bit of humor in the middle of the pandemic. It was then that I decided I would work hard to get it published. So I decided to send it out and share it with my friends. If other people stumble across it, that’s great. Then I received an e-newsletter from a publisher that discussed manuscripts being accepted by people who don’t have agents. I thought, “Well, what the heck?” and sent it to the one I liked. The next day, I received a request for the complete manuscript.

It was very easy once I got over the initial hurdle of looking for an agent. The Story PlantThey’re great to work with, have been very encouraging, and their goal is to bring new authors out into the world. It was a great fit.

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Send us a message or tweet Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb.

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