KATE’S ESCAPE FROM THE BILLABLE HOUR
by Petula Parker
Kate Billings, a burnt-out, second-year attorney working in the dysfunctional world of Big Law, regains consciousness after a late night, career-ending meltdown at the office. Can she scramble to undo the damage? Or does she even want to?
Kate is a Red Bull-dependent, yoga-hating attorney at Krapp & Lipschitz, L.L.P., Arizona's largest and worst-dressed law firm. At first blush, Kate leads an enviable life. At only 26, she earns a six-figure salary, owns a quaint downtown bungalow, and has managed to shed the 80 pounds that have plagued her for most of her adulthood.
A devastating performance review by firm partners Krapp, Butts, and Waddleberger, however, calls Kate's chosen career into question. Her confusion is compounded by a stranger’s innocent inquiry: "Are you happy?" Finally, when Kate receives her annual bonus -- consisting of a smoked ham and skin concealer -- she cracks. Upon realizing that she has been passively allowing her life to unfold under the belief that at some point things would just click into being perfect, Kate ransacks the partners' offices, quits her job, and buys a one-way ticket to Barcelona, planning to stalk ("it's not 'stalking,' it's 'reconnaissance'") the Spanish exchange student she has been secretly in love with since high school.
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AN INTERVIEW WITH PETULA
Q: What inspired you to become a writer?
A: I've been writing my whole life, whether it's been putting together comedy skits for school, keeping embarrassingly over-detailed journals, or just creating character sketches. So I feel as though I never really made a conscious choice to write, it's just always been a part of me.
Q: What draws you to chick lit?
A: I'm drawn to comedy involving strong female protagonists because, after a long day, sometimes all you need is a good laugh. People that take themselves too seriously can be draining and -- even worse -- boring. Don't get me wrong, I love many works of literary fiction, but sometimes, it just feels good to stretch out on the couch and cringe through the ridiculous goings-on in someone else's life. I also try to make my female characters relatable, so it's almost as though the reader is experiencing the same catharsis as the character on the page.
Q: What's a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book?
A: All the plastic surgery on display in Scottsdale, Arizona was a fun discovery! A not-so-fun fact I learned in researching the book is that lawyers have one of the highest alcoholism, suicide, and divorce rates of any profession. They should print THAT in law school recruitment handbooks! Also interesting is the fact that attorneys are some of the most risk-averse employees there are. That's part of what makes Kate's journey so unique.
Q: Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
A: I can't narrow it down. The obvious first choice would be Kate, the protagonist, who, although she is a bit self-obsessed, would make a great happy hour partner because she's self-deprecating and refreshingly honest. I'd also love to go out for drinks with her work cohort Cal, because, while I'm lucky to have had a good many gay male friends, I've not yet had a straight male friend who everyone just assumes is gay. Finally, I'd like to take Kate's work mentor Lillian out for a beer. She, to me, represents the strong female mentorship that is necessary not just in legal jobs, but in any job in corporate America, if we want women to thrive in the workplace.
Q: For aspiring writers, any tips?
A: Just write, write, and write some more! And write something you love yourself and that is natural to you; don't write with an eye to what the public may or may not like because that could extinguish your true voice.
Q: Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
A: I know I'm going to get a lot of flack for this answer, but I just can't understand the vampire fixation that's got a hold of this country! Corpses are not sexy, people! Even if they're brooding and teenaged and have good bone structure, they spend long hours in coffins and probably smell really bad.
Petula Parker was inspired to write Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour based on her own trials and tribulations practicing in the unforgiving arena of Big Law, and her experiences living in Spain. Miss Parker currently resides in the United States, where she avoids attorneys and men who wear denim shorts.
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