An Interview With Luanne Rice of Motherhood Out Loud

Morgan Armstad reviews & interviews

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Luanne Rice is the author of thirty-one novels, many of which are New York Times best sellers. She is also the author of a monologue in Motherhood Out Loud, a play that Mamalode is excited to be bringing to Missoula this October. Motherhood Out Loud is humorous and relatable, at the same time being gut-wrenchingly honest. Motherhood isn’t always easy, and some of the hardest things mothers face are addressed within the lines of this remarkable play. Luanne’s monologue is from the perspective of a woman who becomes a stepmother, and details her relationships with her two stepdaughters. Luanne’s piece in Motherhood Out Loud is poignant and fearless, much like the rest of the play.

How did you get connected with Motherhood Out Loud? Why did you decide to get involved?

My dear friend Joan Stein asked me to write a piece for the play. We had met years earlier when she produced Crazy in Love, a film from my second novel. I remember sitting with her on set – there we were, making a movie about three generations of a close family, realizing that neither of us was a mother. It became very impassioned, talking about why we didn’t have kids. I learned that day that you never just had a conversation with Joan—you poured your heart out to her, and vice versa. That was the beginning of our decades of talks about motherhood.

Did you have an experience in your own life that was similar to the character in your piece, “My Almost Family”?

My stepdaughter Mads inspired the piece, and she came to see it when it was first performed at New York Theater Workshop. We both cried. She’s one of the most important people in my life—I feel lucky to be so close to her.

What types of things inspire you?

Sisters, family, and nature.

How much of your writing is inspired by real events in your own life?

Almost all of it, one way or another, but often I don’t know the full extent until I’ve finished writing.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Very early. I missed school whenever possible, starting in elementary school. I was afraid to leave the house because something might happen without me. I had this idea that divorce was an instantaneous thing, and I was afraid my parents would get divorced between the time I left for school and the time I came home. There were troubles. So I’d fake a sore throat and stay home and write stories about happy families. I think I felt by writing I could keep us together.

Where do you love to write? When is your favorite time of day to write?

Anywhere, but my two favorite places are hotel rooms and desks by windows with a long view.

What is the effect you hope your writing will have on your readers?

That they’ll enter the fictional world and get lost in the story.

How often do you insert pieces of yourself into the characters you create?

I never think of that consciously. My characters seem real and separate from me.

What are your top 3 favorite pieces in Motherhood Out Loud, and why?

I love all the pieces, but I have a special adoration for Beth Henley’s because…it’s by Beth Henley, and she’s one of my favorite playwrights. I’m from a three-sister family, and Crimes of the Heart is so brilliant, heartbreaking, hilarious, and true to our lives, to the way sisters talk, to the way they keep secrets from each other. To the one sister of mine who speaks to me (the other doesn’t), I often quote from it.

What message would you like to convey to other stepmothers in similar situations as the woman in, “My Almost Family?”

Remember the children had a family before you came along, and it still exists and always will. Never try to take anyone’s place—create your own. Respect their mother.

What are you working on currently?

My first young adult novel, The Secret Language of Sisters, will be published February 26, 2016.

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About the Author

Morgan Armstad

Morgan Armstad is a part-time writer and waitress, as well as a full-time mom to her incredible daughter Skye. She loves to read, dance and eat Milano cookies. She graduated spring 2016 from the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in journalism with a history minor. Morgan is currently working and writing at Mamalode magazine in Missoula and has written for the website VProud.

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