Paula Froelich Interview

A Conversation with Paula Froelich, Author of Mercury in Retrograde

Q. You are a well-known newspaper columnist. What made you decide to write your first novel?

A. Frankly, I was bored. I was writing gossip items day in and day out and wanted to write something longer and more substantial.

Q. Mercury in Retrograde focuses on three young women facing huge turning points in their lives. What advice can you offer to other women in similar predicaments?

A. I always say—just go with it. Life’s biggest disappointments are usually the biggest blessings. Garth Brooks has a song that says “I thank God for unanswered prayers.” I kind of feel like that most days.

Q. When did you first move to New York City? Was your first apartment anything like the ones at 198 Sullivan Street?

A. I moved here in 1998 and I shared my first apartment with two other women. Both completely nuts. I now live in Penelope’s apartment—complete with the crazy bathroom that is split into two closets: one is a toilet, one is a shower. New York living at its finest! Heh.

Q. Fashion plays an important role in the novel. How would you describe your own personal style?

A. Oh, I just try to find something that doesn’t look like a complete disaster on me!

Q. You included horoscopes in each chapter. How did you come up with this idea? Are you a big believer in astrology?

A. I don’t subscribe to it completely, but there’s something there . . . my astrologer Karen Thorne has been right too many times! But basically the horoscopes were a tool.

Q. In your experience, is the New York media as hectic as the ordeals Penelope endures make it seem?

A. Um. YES.

Q. You mention some New York figures by name, meanwhile other characters sound very similar to real-life people. Why did you decide to identify some but not others?

A. I identified some because their stories were well known. Others, I kept out for personal reasons.

Q. “Mercury in retrograde” refers to a time when anything that can go wrong does. Have you ever had that experience? If so, how did you get through it?

A. Oh lordy—Mercury in retrograde describes my life from 2006 to 2009! I got through it like I do everything: one foot in front of the other.

Q. What’s your favorite part about living and working in Manhattan?

A. Everything! Manhattan is a small slice of the world. You can visit any country just by hopping on the subway.

Q. From Penelope’s work, to Lipstick’s society events, even to Dana’s dog Karl, you seem to have a lot in common with these women. Is it fair to say you’re a composite of all three, or do you relate to one more than the others?

A. Oh, they are all me. Every single one of them!