Saturday, January 19, 2013


Check out my interview in The Fix this week with my dear long-time friend Ann Leary. Her new novel, The Good House, was published to rave reviews this week and is selling like hotcakes.


Ann Leary and I met 25 years ago in Boston, before we thought ourselves capable of writing a coherent grocery list, let alone an entire book. We were just getting sober. We each went on to write books—several, in fact—as I move to Los Angeles and "got religion" and Ann got a husband, actor and comic Denis Leary (before he was famous!).

Now they have two children and live in rural Connecticut. Happily, Ann and I have remained close friends who can always make each other laugh. We sat down recently to talk about her new novel, The Good House, out January 15 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s set in a small New England town and is told from the point of view of a woman named Hildy Good, who just might have a problem with alcohol.

Heather King: Ann, you and I got sober together in Boston and the North Shore. A small town on the North Shore is the setting for your new novel, which captures the feel of the place, the zeitgeist of old money, flinty and eccentric New Englanders, lobster fishermen—and the repressed emotion, alcoholism, driving the back roads wasted.

Ann Leary: I love New Englanders. I moved to Marblehead from Wisconsin when I was 14 and I have been fascinated by the New England personality ever since. I felt like such an outsider when we moved there. Many of my classmates had lived in Marblehead all their lives. Some were descendants of Marblehead’s earliest settlers. My classmates had a shared history that I envied. I also was very aware of the way this town had its own personality. The neighboring towns had slightly different personalities, each formed by the collective quirkiness of the characters who had founded them and whose descendants still inhabited them...



  1. An interview that revealed as much about the interviewer as the interviewee. I loved it.

  2. Heather, I have been away for awhile. I read your interview with Anne Leary. Terrific interview and I think I might want to read the book.

  3. "while Hildy always judges herself by her intentions—which are usually good—others judge her by her actions, which are sometimes bizarre, because of her drinking"-- this line was something to think about. I had a father who was an alcoholic. He was an very good man but his actions from M-F you could predict how the week would go. This can be applied to anyone-- we all have good intentions but will they match our actions. Hmm...reading "Shirt of Flame"...very deep reflections and thoughts, Heather, thanks to St. Therese. :)

  4. "...before we thought ourselves capable of writing a coherent grocery list, let alone an entire book." - Although your struggles have varied from my own struggles your redemptive story continues to bring me hope!

    And, as Kevin had mentioned, your interview opened not only a window into Anne, but to you as well. Those are the best kind.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thanks, folks, so glad you got a kick out of the interview! I opened the book and barely put it down, completing it in one long's especially great if you know that part of the Eastern seaboard at all, and of course I'm forever fascinated by the alcoholic psyche...

    Ann and Denis once let me stay at their fab NY apt. while they took their annual trip to the Vineyard. I spent the whole two weeks schlepping around to gardens, the Cloisters, and Mass at various churches...

    Anyway, getting to promote the people I love, and their work, is surely one of the high points of having a blog...

    Barbara! Welcome back...

  6. Heather,

    I just came across your writing for the first time yesterday, as I was praying my daily Magnificat Morning Prayer..Your reflection on the Conversion of St Paul was/is very powerful and moving confession.

    As a former M&F therapist,I have struggled with the question of why an alcoholic, forced to stop drinking for medical reasons starts alienating family and friends who try to help him.
    If you have any insights I would appreciate..
    I must use my pen name to protect the alcholic

    The Irish Rover

  7. Every alcoholic I've ever known resists treatment and makes a cottage industry of alienating people. AA and Al-Anon literature are brilliant if you want a peek into the alcoholic psyche, spirit and mind...


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