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Local woman’s first novel debuts next week

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Molly Shapiro’s first novel, “Point, Click, Love,” is being published Dec. 20. The novel is already available for pre-order on both Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble. She’s also been chosen as an emerging author by Target. Needless to say, she’s excited.

“Target is going to carry the book in all of its stores. I’m really excited about that,” said Shapiro, who said the book will also be available at independent booksellers.

The book is being described by the publisher as a fun and sexy debut novel about four women who try to sort through the wild and complicated world of text messaging, status updates and other high-speed connections. It’s also getting good buzz throughout the world of publishing.

“Point, Click, Love is a thoroughly engaging debut novel about a group of Midwestern women grappling with the mysteries of love, marriage and children. Molly Shapiro writes with wit, insight and a light touch,” said New York Times bestselling author Tom Perrotta.

The book, a trade paperback, is being published by Ballantine, a division of Random House. It will be available for e-readers including Kindle and Nook and is being discounted by the major retailers.

“It’s nice having this big publishing house behind me. This is my first novel. I’m an unknown. There are resources that I just wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said “Point, Click, Love” is based in Kansas City because it’s a place she knows well. She notes one character works at Sprint and those familiar with the locale will recognize other little things throughout the book.

“They’ve promoted it like Sex in the City meets the Midwest, but it’s about older women. These women don’t lead glamorous lives like Carrie Bradshaw, but they have interesting lives nonetheless. I think they are more relatable to ordinary people,” she explained.

Each of Shapiro’s characters has a particular relationship with digital communication. One character is dating using the Internet.

“Another character is anti-Facebook because her husband is just obsessed with it and it drives her crazy,” Shapiro said.

A third character is hooked on celebrity websites and the fourth is looking for a sperm donor online. Generally the chapters alternate, focusing on one character at a time.

“There are four different storylines that go all the way through, but then there are scenes when they all get together. So the book explores their friendships as well,” the author explained about the book that took about a year to conceive and write.

About the author

Shapiro explained she’s “been writing forever.” Originally she thought she would become a screenwriter and studied film at Brown University.

“I had some success. I did some screenplays for a small producer in New York City. I wrote the ‘Bob Marley Story,’ and that looked like it was going to be made for a while. But it didn’t happen,” she said.

After a while Shapiro got disillusioned by the Hollywood scene.

“I knew I didn’t want to live in LA. I knew I didn’t want to be a part of that world. And I knew that I didn’t want to depend on 100 different people to ever get anything done,” she said.

Shapiro said she decided to write fiction because she thought it would be easier to sit in her room alone and write books.

“That would be an outlet for me and I thought it would be easier to get a book published then get a movie made. So after working for a while in technical writing I decided to go to Columbia University and get my MFA in creative writing,” she said.

While she was at Columbia in 1997 she wrote a book of short stories, “Eternal City.” It was the winner of the Willa Cather Fiction Prize.

“Eternal City” was described by the Kansas City Star as “a sophisticated, polished, taut, cool, funny and sometimes quietly scary collection of stories. …it’s the first published work by Shapiro and a virtuoso performance.”

Shapiro is proud of those stories, but notes that they weren’t widely read. She’s also written two other novels that weren’t published. This time she wanted a book that would be read by more people.

But Shapiro doesn’t solely concentrate on fiction. She is a full-time professional writer who works for a variety of for-profit and non-profit organizations. She also ghostwrites fundraising and policy emails for political candidates.

“It’s hard to find time with all that to write fiction, so when things slowed down a bit during the economic downturn; I took the opportunity to write the novel. Things have since picked up again, but I’m doing my best to find the time to write my follow up novel,” she explained.

She chose to write about love in an online world because of her own personal experiences.

“The thing that inspired me was that I found myself single after getting divorced in 2007,” she said. “I was in this new world that I wasn’t really prepared for. I noticed that online communication was something that was really significant at that point. When I was a married woman with kids I wasn’t thinking about Facebook and Twitter and I certainly wasn’t thinking about online dating.”

As the mother of two, she felt limited in the options she had to meet people. She wasn’t excited about being fixed up and she didn’t want to go to bars or join a bunch of new clubs.

“So I decided that my only option was to go online because that way I could choose myself. It wouldn’t be time consuming. It wouldn’t take me away from my kids. So that’s what I did,” she said.

The experience was interesting for Shapiro, and she ultimately met someone she’s been with for more than four years.

“I got a glimpse of a world that I never would have seen otherwise. I felt that at that point I had some things to say about my experience with divorce and my experience with online dating.

I just felt like I wanted to write a novel about it,” she said.