Perfect on Paper – Author Interview – Maria Murnane

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perfect-on-paper1Paperback Writer is joined today by Maria Murnane, author of the romantic comedy, Perfect on Paper (Wink’s Ink, February 2008), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in December and January on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!


As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced on December 31!


Maria Murnane is currently an independent business writer and works mostly with technology and financial services companies, but like the main character in her book, she used to work in sports PR. One day she quit her job and ended up in Argentina for a year, where she played semi-pro soccer and also wrote the first draft of what would eventually become “Perfect on Paper”. She has dedicated the book to any woman who has ever been on a really bad date or realized halfway through the workday that her skirt is on backwards.
Maria graduated with high honors in English and Spanish from UC Berkeley and received a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She lives in San Francisco and can be reached at
Visit Maria’s website at


Anything can look perfect…on paper.

When her fiance calls off their wedding at the last minute, Waverly Bryson wonders if her life will ever turn out the way she though it would…or should. Her high-powered job in sports PR? Not so perfect. Her relationship with her dad? Far from it. Her perfect marriage? Enough said.

“Perfect on Paper” is a humorous tale of Waverly’s efforts to cobble the pieces of a broken yesterday into a brand new tomorrow. What does the future have in store for her? Will she finally find what she’s looking for?

Her dates? Cringe-inducing at times, definitely entertaining.

Her friends? Often amused, definitely supportive.

Her new crush? Possibly intrigued, definitely a catch.

The results? Hardly perfect, definitely just right.


The Interview

Hi Maria,
Welcome to Paperback Writer. Thank you for having me.

Paperback Writer: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?

Maria Murnane: When we used to live in the same neighborhood, my good friend Alison and I would get together before work semi-regularly to go for a long walk, about an hour, which in the steep hills of San Francisco can be a great workout! Anyhow, we’d talk about everything under the sun and always referred to it as “free therapy”. A lot of the things we talked about on those walks were pretty funny, and eventually there was just so much material there that we started talking about trying to turn it all into a book about life as a single professional woman in San Francisco. I think part of me always thought it would be cool to write a book, but it was those walks with Alison that really got me thinking about doing it for real.

PBW: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
MM: When I first decided that I was going to write a book, I sat down and sketched out notes on what the main character would be like, who her friends would be, what her job would be , etc. Then I made some notes about other things I wanted to include in the book, including somehow weaving the greeting card idea into them, the infamous Brad Cantor character, funny bad dates, etc. Then I started making a brief outline for the plot, or at least the first part of the plot, because I honestly didn’t know where it was going to end up. But I knew enough about what I wanted to write to get me from about A to D (assuming an entire book was A to Z), so I just started writing and figured that I would figure it out as I went along.
Once I got going, the writing process was pretty regular. I was living in Argentina at the time and playing on a soccer team that took up most of my time during the day, so I would write for a couple hours every morning, and then a couple hours every evening. And in between I would jot down a lot of notes to myself on a little notepad. Many times I’d wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for something I wanted to include in the book, so I’d keep the notepad by my bed. I remember being on the bus when it hit me how I wanted to end the book, so I scribbled it down in another little notebook I had in my backpack, right there on the bus on the way to soccer practice. I think I was even standing up at the time.

PBW: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

MM: I knew in general, not with any detail at all. (See above)

PBW: Do you have a process for developing your characters?
MM: Not so much a process, more a style. I’ve realized how important it is for characters to show their personality through what they say, as opposed to telling the reader what a character’s personality is. As a writer, when you’re able to look at a line you’ve written and think “hmm, that doesn’t sound like something so and so would say,” then you know you’ve created a real character.

PBW: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

MM: Oh yes, that would be Waverly (the main character). My friends all say that reading “Perfect on Paper” is like listening to me talk for 320 pages, so that should answer the question! I like to say that Waverly Bryson’s life is essentially my life—if my life were more exciting. Personality-wise we are very similar. For example, I tend to care too much about what other people think of me and of what I’m doing with my life, and I’m always making random observations like she does. I also tend to stick my foot in my mouth when I get nervous. But in other ways we are very different. My family situation is a good example of that—my parents are happily married and are extremely supportive of me, and I have two sisters and a brother who are awesome, as are their spouses and kids. Waverly missed out on the big family thing, but I felt it made the story more interesting to have her as an only child with a less-than-perfect relationship with her dad.

PBW: What is your most favorite part about this book?

MM: Wow, love this question! I think it’s that there is so much of me and my life in the book—many of the funny things that happen to Waverly and her friends happened first in my real life, and it’s neat to see them as part of the story. I also put some small things in there just for fun. For example, the name of Waverly’s company is called KA Marketing. That’s short for “kick- ass marketing,” which is a total inside joke between me and Alison. A guy I once dated used to say that he had come up with a “kick-ass marketing plan” for his company, which made us cringe. So I put it in the book. And the whole scene about “dating disqualifiers” came from a time I had pizza with a soccer team I’d played for as a guest—and speaking of that team, it’s called the Rookies, which is also the name of the drink that dooms Waverly at the SuperShow. It was really fun putting little things like that in the book.

PBW: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

MM: After I finished the first draft, I came back from Argentina and was lucky enough to sign with an agent pretty quickly. She told me that she’d been waiting fora book like mine for years, and that mine was the funniest voice she’d heard in ages. She was pretty sure we’d get a two-book deal, so needless to say I was pretty exited. At that point it was all like a dream come true. I thought maybe I would even be on Oprah!
But when my agent shopped it to all the major publishing houses, the reply was pretty unanimous—no thanks. Apparently “chick lit” wasn’t selling well, so no one wanted to touch it unless it sounded really unique. And apparently mine didn’t.
Then my agent basically fired me. From Oprah to fired. Talk about an emotional roller coaster.
I cried for about three days, then spent about six months rewriting the book. Then I went to a writers conference and pitched it myself to four publishing houses and three agents, and they all said it sounded great and wanted to read it. So I was pretty excited again!
Then after a few more months I finally heard back from all of them with more or less the same story I’d heard the first time around: Great read. Great writing. Great dialogue, Great humor. Doesn’t stand out enough for us to gamble on though– sorry. In other words, no thanks.
I didn’t know what to do at that point, so for about six months I left the book sitting on my computer and started doing freelance writing for technology companies to start earning a decent living again. Then one day my dad (perhaps the nicest man on the planet) sat me down and handed me a book on self-publishing that he had read, along with a little plan he’d written for what I needed to do to publish on my own. He told me he loved my book and that I couldn’t let it go, so he was going to help me publish it myself. It nearly made me cry.
So I found a designer to do the interior and cover for me (, got Alison and my other friends Somill and Christine to proofread the manuscript, wrote the back cover copy, had a family friend take my photo, and then finally submitted it all for publication to a “print-on-demand” company (Booksurge).
And now here we are! It’s been a long haul, and very difficult at times, but wonderful too because I truly have done it all on my own (with a LOT of help from my highly underpaid administrative assistant/PR rep, aka my dad). I remember telling my mom a couple years ago that if even ONE PERSON I wasn’t related to bought and enjoyed my book, it would make it all worth while. And now I’m getting emails pretty regularly from people I’ve never met telling me how much they loved my book. A couple months ago I saw a random girl at a café reading it—I seriously nearly had a heart attack.
So that is a very long answer to your question—I hope it wasn’t too long!
PBW: Not to long at all, in fact, I think it helps us to get to know you better as an author by elaborating on the process and your struggles on the road to being published.

PBW: What has been the best part about being published?

MM: The response to my book so far has been amazing, so I am very hopeful that a publisher might pick it up. So if any of your readers out there who have enjoyed my book would like to help, here are three quick things they can do to help prove that there is an audience for my writing:
1) Write a review on Amazon:
2) Become a fan on Facebook and write something on the wall (you can use the “share with friends” link here too if you want:
3) Post a comment on my Web site:
Doing those three things would be fantastic—so thank you in advance to any of your readers who take a few minutes to help out!

PBW: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

MM: I hope readers enjoyed living Waverly’s world for a little while, and that the book made them laugh. I also hope they remember to tell their friends about it!

PBW: Do you have plans to write another book?

MM: A lot of people have asked me if I’m going to write a sequel—everyone seems to want to know what happens to Waverly! I would love to write another book, but it’s a ton of work, especially when you have to do all the marketing on your own– on top of the writing itself. So right now I’m focusing on trying to get “Perfect on Paper” picked up by a publisher. If your readers are interested in a sequel, please tell them to email me! I can be reached through my site at

PBW: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?

MM: It’s been great! Fun way to reach a lot of potential readers, and everyone has been super nice.

PBW: Where can readers find a copy of your book?
MM: At or on Amazon. It’s also being sold at a few stores in San Francisco—they are listed on my Web site.
PBW: Do you have a website for readers to go to?

Thank you, Maria for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
The pleasure was mine. Thank you!

PERFECT ON PAPER VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 officially begAn on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit Maria’s blog stops at in December to find out more about her latest book!

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