Author Interview "Anne Michaud"
This is your debut book, correct? How does it feel to be a published author?
It feels as though I’ve released something that was inside of me for a long time. I’ve wanted to write a book since, I was in fifth grade. I’ve had a 20-plus-year career in journalism since then. So this dream has been patient.
Tell our readers a little about your book “Why They Stay" and the inspiration behind it?
I’ve worked as a political reporter for newspapers and a contributor to magazines. I covered three politicians in particular – Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner – that inspired me to take on the research for this book. As each stumbled over his own sex-related scandal, I would watch their wives, who were accomplished, intelligent, admirable women. I wondered what kept them in these marriages and inspired them to defend their husbands in public. Can you give us a glimpse into your writing/research routine. How did you gather information for your book? Did you interview anyone, or read other books, etc?
I read more than 300 books, articles and original documents as research. Much of what I pulled together was known about the 9 wives I profiled, but I believe I've compiled and analyzed their stories in a new, provocative way. I’ve spoken with some of the women I wrote about, as well as their husbands and aides. Along with being a published author you're also an acclaimed columnist!!! Do you believe your career helped with your writing process? If so, how?
My career taught me how to research. There are so many places to look for information, and I love that part of writing. It almost feels as though I’m a detective. Publishing newspaper and magazine stories about people I covered, and knew I would encounter again, taught me to be fair and to prize accuracy. It’s a very bad day when someone calls to say I got it wrong. What sort of responses have you received about “Why They Stay" from readers thus far?
People are very curious about these political power couples. There’s a fascination with the big names of American history, like the Roosevelts and the Kennedys. A few women have told me that reading this book reminded them of their own thinking when they were deciding whether to stay in their marriages.
You cover some very controversial topics in your book. Have you received any backlash about the content featured in your book? If so, how did you handle it? If not, what steps do you plan to take if any controversy or challenges arise surrounding the content featured in your book?
One criticism I’ve received is that I profiled too many Democrats as opposed to Republicans. Two-thirds are Democrats. It’s true that I had many unfaithful political couples to choose from – unfortunately for them! – and I was drawn to the ones who fascinated me most or about whom I had some personal knowledge. The politicians I covered – Clinton, Spitzer and Weiner – for example, were all Democrats. However, there are three conservatives or Republicans profiled in “Why They Stay.” They are just not quite as well-known. Wendy Vitter, wife of the former U.S. Senator from Louisiana; Valerie Hobson, who was married to British War Minister Jack Profumo; and Gila Katsav, whose husband Moshe was president of Israel.As for challenges to my work, I included roughly 800 citations in the endnotes to document where the information comes from. In the ebook version, the citations are mostly hyperlinked, so people can see for themselves how I built my conclusions.
It seems as if the wives of prominent athletes, entertainers, etc., also often stay in their marriages after infidelity or scandal. In your opinion when should—and shouldn’t— a woman stay with her cheating spouse?
That’s the truth! I think it’s up to each couple to choose their own path. I don’t think it’s for me to judge why women stay … I simply wanted to explore how politics played into these decisions.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author reading this interview?
Just keep going. I had a few false starts: people in my writing groups who didn’t like my topic, silence from literary agents, rejection by publishers, etc. Once on this journey, I stopped writing for about 18 months. That didn’t feel right. If you persist, you will find a way. I carry a note in my wallet that quotes a Swedish proverb: “Those who wish to sing always find a song.”
Do you have any upcoming events such as book signings, author readings, etc? I’m signing at a journalism conference in Arkansas in October and speaking to a chapter of the American Association of University Women in November. I’m speaking at the Connetquot Public Library on Long Island, NY, in January. Any last thoughts for our audience?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed discussing “Why They Stay” with readers and hearing what they think. I’d love people to get in touch via my website, www.annemichaud.com , with comments – good or bad!
About the book:
"Why They Stay" explores the reasoning and motivation of wives who stay with their politician-husbands after they cheat. Hillary Clinton couldn't have known in 1998 how her husband's high-profile philandering would play out. Would he be rehabilitated in the public eye? She couldn't be sure, but she took the gamble. Had she left the marriage, today she might be the spurned wife of a retired politician instead of the first American woman to head a major party ticket. Looking back on the path chosen by the nine political wives profiled in this book, we have the evidence to see a pattern--as old as the dynastic maneuverings of England's medieval queens. The women married to the "royalty" of our times--politicians--make similar cold calculations in order to hold onto their "thrones" and their family's history-making potential. After covering politicians for decades, acclaimed columnist Anne Michaud switched her gaze to the women behind the cheating men. Drawing from multiple sources that span the Roosevelts' marriage to the more recent scandal involving Hillary Clinton's closest aide Huma Abedin (wife of "sexter," Anthony Weiner), "Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives" argues that when it comes to the "power behind the throne," women in the limelight weigh the risks and rewards. They remain loyal to their men, because of complex, often unconscious forces.From mapping a path to power to laudable notions of holding the family together, Michaud examines the uniquely challenging Faustian bargains that political wives grapple with, even as the public spotlight illuminates their every move.
About the author:
A veteran political journalist, Anne Michaud writes a regular op-ed column for Newsday, a 225,000-circulation daily newspaper covering the affluent New York City suburbs. She has won more than 25 writing and reporting awards and has twice been named 'Columnist of the Year,' in 2015 and 2013, by the New York News Publishers Association and the New York State Associated Press Association. Anne is the author of 'Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives,' published in March 2017. Details are available at annemichaud.com. Anne has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, BusinessWeek.com, Crain's NY Business, Cincinnati Magazine and more. She has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, NY1's Reporters Roundtable and Fox 5 News WNYW. Anne is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a wife and mother.
Connect with the author:
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BN.com, Amazon.com, Kobo, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Overdrive, Audible.com.