What inspired you to write your memoir?
I am a graduate of a womens’ college, which is rare in America these days. I wanted to preserve the experience as well as sort through some of the emotional challenges I experienced as a college student.
I’m glad I did, as my second book, which chronicles a football season spent with Ohio State’s Marching Band, dovetails with some of the issues dealt with in DttL.
About your Book:
Both party and elegy, Drink to the Lasses is the story of Mary Beth Ellis’ life at Saint Mary’s College, the all-women’s sister school of the somewhat-more-famous University of Notre Dame. The same wit that made her a popular campus columnist is now shaded with a steely view of her younger self. Ellis battles her roommate, struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, and discovers that her chosen career might not be so choice after all. In vignettes and set pieces, she introduces us to issues of a modern women’s college and peels back the gold leaf from social life at “Catholic Disneyland.” The first of its kind, this poignant, hilarious literary memoir is a must-read for all once and future freshmen.
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer who lives in Mobile, AL, although not on purpose. Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. She has also been published on MSNBC.com, Dish Pronto, JamsBio, and Freelance Switch. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006.
A native of Cincinnati, OH, Mary Beth obtained her undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s College, and was the first SMC student invited to read at the University of Notre Dame’s Literary Festival. Her vast and frightening array of day jobs after completing her MFA in nonfiction writing at Bennington College have included bodyguarding Jimmy Buffett, working in education at the Kennedy Space Center, and sports reporting for the Thoroughbred racing industry. She currently teaches college, runs wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance. Her current work-in-progress is a set of essays inspired by shadowing the Ohio State University Marching Band for the 2011 season, much of which is chronicled her home site, Blonde Champagne.com.
Her work has appeared in several anthologies: Grotto Stories, Calliope, Florida Crime Writers, 5 Must-Know Secrets for Every College Girl, and Random House’s Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers. Other credits include the Cincinnati Enquirer, Weber: The Contemporary West, Notre Dame Magazine, and many more.
Mary Beth was named the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’ Workshop Writer of the Month in November 2006 and invited as a writer-in-residence at Casa Libre in the spring of 2007. In May of 2010, she was a Visiting Artist with the Colorado Art Ranch, and presented at the Spring 2010 Artposium. She has won several writing contests which nobody has ever heard of.
Mary Beth’s writing adventures continued in 2011 with a residency at the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art and Natural Design, a fellowship with the American Antiquarian Society, and an invitation as an Artist in Residence at Everglades National Park.
How did you decide how to publish your book and where is it published through:
I knew from the outset that I would struggle to publish this book traditionally, as the target audience is relatively small. “Lighting presses” were extensively discussed when I was an MFA candidate at Bennington College. I was also in a rush, as I had recently won a contest with Random House and wanted to ride the publicity tide it would provide. However, I did not want to choose a vanity press. After a great deal of research, I selected a hybrid publisher, Cold Tree Press, which subjected its manuscripts to a rigorous selection process but also asked its authors to share in the publication costs.