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THEN THERE WAS LARRY

Alluvium Books is thrilled to announce the audiobook release of

THEN THERE WAS LARRY, a memoir by Marie Estorge.  

Marie is the bestselling author of Storkbites: A Memoir and Confessions of a Bipolar Mardi Gras Queen (penned under Marie Etienne) and her debut novel, In the Middle of Otherwise. THEN THERE WAS LARRY is a real-life cautionary tale of deception and scandal. Marie offers a unique and razor-sharp look at duplicity and betrayal among friends and lovers in her newest memoir.

Dating is an iffy business at best. Being set up by a close friend usually offers some reassurance, but what happens when this close friend and boyfriend are not who they claim to be?

Headlines about the arrest of a well-regarded community member for charges of child pornography and abuse are disturbing in the collective sense. When the person charged and sentenced to 15 years turns out to be a man you’ve dated, the blow is sharp and personal. The questions and shock, the shame, reverberate at length. Infused with empathy, insight, and humor, Then There Was Larry is an exploration of how well do we really know anyone? How can we trust that people are who they seem? As this quirky yet disturbing chronicle of a woman unraveling the layers of frayed friendships and a scandal from the past is revealed, the previously dismissed red flags reveal darker secrets.

Praise for THEN THERE WAS LARRY:

In THEN THERE WAS LARRY, Marie Estorge delves unapologetically into the universal themes of love and betrayal with the keen eye of a surgeon’s scalpel; dissecting, slicing, juxtaposing the truth against the backdrop of loyalty, friendships, and the unconscionable versus the forgivable. Sit down. Strap yourselves in. Enjoy the ride. ~ Regina Louise, author of Someone Has Led This Child to Believe

It’s cliché but I truly couldn’t put THEN THERE WAS LARRY down. It manages to be dark and funny at the same time. It’s premise, the narrator’s unsuspecting relationship with a convicted sex offender, adds a new dimension to the #MeToo movement conversation. ~ Christine S. O’Brien, author of Crave: A Memoir of Food and Longing

Then There Was Larry is an eye-opening cautionary tale for women everywhere. Marie Estorge’s story is not an unusual one when it comes to sexual predators as there are thousands who are victimized each year. Marie Estorge shares her story with self-effacing humor and stark honesty. I connected with Marie, nodding my head in agreement the further I delved into this memoir.  ~ N. N. Light

“Like all of Marie Estorge’s books, THEN THERE WAS LARRY keeps you turning the pages.” ~ Peggy Vincent, midwife, author of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife 

In July 2020, Marie Estorge released her debut novel, IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE, under the imprint Alluvium Books. Her essays and writing have appeared in the SF ChronicleDiablo MagazineEast Bay Times and other publications.   

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In the Middle of Otherwise

Book Cover with a novel

New review by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven (December 2, 2020):

Jenny, overcome with grief over the accidental death of her toddler son, decides today is the day she’s going to kill herself. She has nothing to live for… or does she? When she meets insurance salesman Brodie, she wonders if the universe is telling her something. Can Jenny find meaning and purpose or will she carry out her own suicide?

In the Middle of Otherwise is a powerful piece of fiction. Told from two polar opposite POV’s over the course of one day, this story casts a new light on human frailty. From the first page, I was hooked. The character-driven plot moves at a nice easy pace with emotional narration. My heart went out to both Brodie and Jenny, for different reasons, of course. Marie Estorge has a gift for drawing the reader into the story and engaging the reader until the very last page. There’s a clear message of redemption here which I loved. The ending tugged at my heartstrings. If you’re looking for a story you won’t be able to stop reading, pick up In the Middle of Otherwise. Highly recommend!

Rating: 5 stars

“In the Middle of Otherwise depicts a tale of people whose lives take dramatic turns for the worse. Marie Estorge unfolds their compelling stories of endurance and redemption in the face of daunting odds. The ending, both deft and clever, will make you happy you read this book.”  – Paul De Lancey, author of Beneficial Murders and Following Good Food Around the World.

Alluvium Books and Marie Estorge are thrilled to announce the release of IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE

Told over the course of one day and set in the suburbs of San Francisco, IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE, is a story of Brodie Marshall and his stalker, Jenny, whose lives collide one morning over a lost wallet.

Brodie Marshall has one day left to sell five life insurance policies and earn a desperately needed ten thousand dollar bonus. But Friday starts with a head-on collision with a tree during an early morning jog and the discovery that his Stanford-bound daughter has brought Gatorade spiked with vodka to school and forged his signature. Meanwhile, with her husband away on business, Jenny decides that today she will end her life. After suffering from the guilt and loss over a back-over accident where she fatally struck her son two years ago, she feels she has nothing in her life worth living for.

As Brodie and Jenny’s stories weave together, the real stakes are revealed. This story layers complexity upon complexity, building to a sense of urgency and inevitability.

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Twelve Questions for Marie Estorge

Amy Schorr asks Marie Estorge, author of IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE, 12 questions

Amy: The title of your book IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE is quite intriguing. Would you please tell us about it?

Marie: My day job is accounting and during a hectic financial close, my colleague said, “Here we are in the middle of otherwise.” I immediately thought, otherwise – a state one finds oneself in if one doesn’t heed advice, follow a process, do what is needed, or take necessary precautions. I asked her if I could borrow that saying for the title of my novel. It was a perfect description of my two protagonists’ current situation.

Amy: Describe the two main characters and where they came from.

Marie: Brodie is an insurance agent who has until midnight to sell five life insurance policies to earn a desperately-needed $10,000.00 bonus. He hasn’t told his wife or daughter about their precarious financial situation, but they will soon learn. Brodie is a nice guy and he means well. He just doesn’t follow through or stay on top of his business.

Jenny is a grieving mother, who two years prior, backed her car over her son. This fatal accident has destroyed her once-happy marriage. She is desperate to obliterate the pain and guilt that consumes her.

Brodie and Jenny’s stories collide when, on the day of her son’s fatal accident, she finds Brodie’s wallet at the edge of her driveway and begins writing him anonymous letters. The letters become sort of a lifeline for her since she and her husband have stopped communicating.

Amy: You obviously had material for your two memoirs (STORKBITES and CONFESSIONS OF A BI-POLAR MARDI GRAS QUEEN) from your personal life. Where did you get your idea for this novel?

Marie: I attended an author event once and when asked how she decided what to write about, the author, Vendela Vida, said, “Write what you fear most.” I thought of a time I nearly backed over my son. My friend was supposed to be watching him while I packed up the car and backed out of her garage. A second before I took my foot off the brake to press on the gas, I saw these blond wisps of hair just above the rear window. Unlike Jenny, I was lucky. My son escaped what would have been a horrible accident. Brodie, the other protagonist in my novel, finds himself in dire financial straits (of his own making), and I’ve been there. I’ve felt his fear, his shame, and his defeat, and I know how scary those situations can be.

Amy: During the storytelling process, do you ever get writer’s block? How do you break through it?

Sometimes, I find myself stuck when I’m starting the next chapter. When this happens, I pull some of my favorite books from my shelves and read the opening sentences of random chapters. Usually, this will trigger an idea of what needs to happen next in the story. A trick that has also helped me is to end a writing session in the middle of a scene. If I know what’s going to happen next, I won’t avoid sitting down to write the next time.

Amy: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Marie: Both. When I’m in the middle of a scene and can barely type fast enough to keep up with my mind, it’s very invigorating. After 6 or 8 hours of writing, however, I’m left completely exhausted. I’ve concentrated so hard, often holding my breath through crucial scenes, that when I step away from my desk, my throat is sore. I try to remind myself to breathe!

Amy: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process while writing?

Marie: Rejection. Envy. Insecurity. Fear. I have been told no in so many ways—some kind and some awful rejections. Luckily, I’ve heard yes, as well. When I’m feeling discouraged and wondering if anyone will want to read anything I’ve written or whether I have any talent, I will remind myself that there could be a yes right around the corner. If I don’t continue forward, I will never reach that yes.

To get over these humps, I’ll sit on the floor of my office, pluck books off the shelves, and read passages from some of my favorite books until I’m feeling inspired and hopeful again. I will comb through Poets & Writers and Writer’s Digest, looking for inspiration.

Admittedly, I often find myself envious when reading about friends’ success on social media. I fear that I’m wasting my time and will never make a living at writing. But I remember how much I enjoy the writing process: fleshing out ideas, figuring out how my characters will react in a situation based on their background and circumstances, reworking a sentence until it flows, and thinking of unique metaphors.

Amy: What is your writing kryptonite?

Marie: Getting feedback from people who hate my writing style and voice. I want complete honesty from people whom I’ve asked to read and critique my work, but I also know that a writer should be selective about whom they trust with their work. Nasty, personal comments in the margins of a manuscript can set me back weeks, even months. Some comments, though on the surface feel rude, are actually helpful and funny: “I’m falling asleep here…is something going to happen?”

Amy: What would you tell your younger writing self?

Marie: Read constantly and widely across genres. Study how your favorite authors craft sentences and paragraphs. Just get the first terrible draft written, then focus on fleshing out the characters and story. The delete button is your friend.

Amy: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Marie: Enrolling in small writing classes of vetted, serious writers led by an experienced writer/editor. Some of the most helpful feedback I received was sitting around the living rooms of old San Francisco Victorians. The biggest waste of money: Paying a former “well-connected” editor $16,000 to edit my manuscript. Or $10,000 to a publicist who “lived next to Oprah.” I’ve found that English teachers make excellent, affordable editors. Also, get recommendations from other writers. A post on Facebook about me needing an editor led to the most amazing collaboration.

Amy: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Marie: Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, and Dave Eggers’ Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever. I LOVED these books—they are so smart and strange.

Amy: If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Marie: Am I too old to be an Olympic Springboard diver? Probably. I’d love to teach writing or accounting at a community college or coach diving again. Make art and purses. Design furniture.

Amy: What does literary success look like to you?

Marie: Success would mean that I can afford to write full time because my work is valued by readers and acknowledged by the industry. I’m invited to literary events where I meet some of my idols. I’m asked to share my knowledge with other authors. Friends, family, and strangers will send a quick note to say how much they enjoyed my book.

Revisiting the Past

One of the few upsides to Covid-19 was that my California employer allowed me to work remotely from Louisiana for the summer. In the last 25 years, I hadn’t spent more than a week at a time visiting my family. My college-aged son was studying from our home, so I left him in charge of the house and drove across the southern states with my computers and makeshift office.

After a Sunday afternoon of swimming, one of my sisters and I were heading back to her house when we decided to drive through our old neighborhood. We turned onto Canterbury Street and approached the first house that my parents had built, the house where I lived in until age 5. There was a man, presumably the newest owner, working in the front yard.

“Stop and roll down the window,” I said to my sister.

I waved the man over, and as he stood near the window, I said, “My father built this house. We used to live here.”

We chatted briefly and he invited us to look inside the house. They had remodeled since purchasing it. As we walked up the driveway to the back door, my sister mentioned that I was visiting from California. The man said, “Oh, you’re the one who wrote that book about your family.”

“Storkbites,” I said. “Yes.”

“Well, my wife read it and really enjoyed it. But she said that I didn’t need to read it.” My sister and I exchanged a confused look.

We entered the house through what looked like a converted garage but had been our playroom and now theirs. The room held a lot of memories—laughter as well as tears. Sometimes, kids can be really cruel to each other. We crossed the threshold into the large family room where the couple had painted the dark wood paneling a lighter, less dungeonous color. The man introduced us to his wife. She told us they had sold their previous house to another one of my six sisters. We also realized that my nephew had taught their son cello lessons. What a small world, we agreed.

We toured the backyard first. The husband pointed to our old merry-go-round now sitting in the neighbor’s yard. The fiberglass horses were missing as well as the awning.

“They’re fixing it up,” he said. I thought about the hours of fun my siblings and I spent riding the horses, going round and round.

We headed to the swimming pool area. I pointed at a room that sat above and to the right of the pool. “My brother and his friends used to jump from that roof into the pool. They were quite the dare devils.” 

We reentered the house and I noticed a bookshelf with owl figurines. I asked if they collected owls, and indeed the wife did. I told them that my father was also an owl enthusiast. His collection had grown to hundreds by the time he died. I laughed to myself because as I visited my various sisters’ houses this summer, I noticed  they all had part of my father’s huge collection displayed around their homes.

Our tour took us through my parent’s master bedroom to a door leading to a maze of bedrooms and halls. At the first bedroom, the woman pointed to a missing chunk of wood from the door jam. “These gouges were left over from the chains that your father installed on the doors,” she said. Her husband asked, “Why would your dad lock you kids in your rooms at night?”

I looked at my sister and said, “To keep us from leaving our bedrooms so we wouldn’t disturb our mother.” When spoken aloud, it sounded cruel and bizarre, like something out of a movie. “I guess we’re lucky the house never caught on fire in the middle of the night.” The energy in the hallway flattened like a punctured tire.

“Well,” he said, “here’s the room you called the Dark Room.” He opened the door to reveal a large, windowless closest lined with shelves. The room looked like a catchall for decorations and not-ready-to-discard household items.

I told the couple how my sister and I shared the dark room. It was the only paneled room in the house that had been painted at the time. In an effort to learn my ABCs, I had taken my mother’s black marker and written the alphabet in large letters across the paneling. I remembered how I proudly showed off my cleverness, singing the letters as my mother and I stood in the room. When fury settled on her face, I knew I would be yanked out of bed that night for a spanking.

“Yep, she was not very amused,” I said.

One feature of the house I hadn’t remembered but loved now was the abundance of large windows in the children’s bedrooms. I imagined my siblings waking up to the morning sun, awaiting their mug of coffee-milk that my mother delivered to us to kick-start our day.  

The tour ended in the kitchen. My mother had loved the color pink. We had pink bathrooms, pink metal fencing around the swimming pool, and a pink Formica kitchen. The owners had renovated the kitchens and bathrooms, removing all evidence of her infatuation.

My sister and I thanked the owners for the tour. The wife said she had invited another one of my sisters to visit the house, to see the changes she and her husband had made to our childhood home. My sister had politely declined. The woman wasn’t sure why she wasn’t curious. I knew why. For some, the past isn’t safe to revisit. They would prefer to let the memories remain buried.

I, conversely, am always ready to uncover something curious or unknown about my family. I’m like an archeologist, constantly gathering and unearthing information from any available source. For decades, I have studied our past and tried to piece together all that makes us who we are today. It helps me to develop theories of why we behave the way we do. To have empathy for those who treated us with less kindness and care than we deserved, to understand that perhaps their behavior was a result of the hurt they themselves had endured. To learn from the past and to move forward.

in the middle of otherwise – Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that in the middle of otherwise is now published and available for sale. The eBook is available on Amazon and other options will be available soon.

To purchase a signed copy directly from the author, please click here. Free shipping for the first 50 orders. Also available in eBook and paperback at amazon. PURCHASE HERE. Thank you! 

“In the Middle of Otherwise depicts a tale of people whose lives take dramatic turns for the worse. Marie Estorge unfolds their compelling stories of endurance and redemption in the face of daunting odds. The ending, both deft and clever, will make you happy you read this book.” 

– Paul De Lancey, author of Beneficial Murders and Following Good Food Around the World.

 About the book:

Told over the course of one day and set in the suburbs of San Francisco, IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE, is a story of Brodie Marshall and his stalker, Jenny, whose lives collide one morning over a lost wallet.

Brodie Marshall has one day left to sell five life insurance policies and earn a desperately needed ten thousand dollar bonus. But Friday starts with a head-on collision with a tree during an early morning jog and the discovery that his Stanford-bound daughter has brought Gatorade spiked with vodka to school and forged his signature. Meanwhile, with her husband away on business, Jenny decides that today she will end her life. After suffering from the guilt and loss over a back-over accident where she fatally struck her son two years ago, she feels she has nothing in her life worth living for.

As Brodie and Jenny’s stories weave together, the real stakes are revealed. This story layers complexity upon complexity, building to a sense of urgency and inevitability.