Hauser, Melanie Lynne 1965–
Hauser, Melanie Lynne 1965–
Born 1965; married; children: two sons.
Home— Chicago, IL.
Writer. Previously worked in telemarketing, acting, and as a features writer and columnist for local parenting publications.
WBEZ Stories on Stage contest winner, National Public Radio, for "Prodigy on Ice."
Confessions of Super Mom, Dutton Adult (New York, NY), 2005.
Super Mom Saves the World, NAL Trade (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to the book It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons, edited by Andrea J. Buchanan. Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including the Adirondack Review. Author of the Web blog The Refrigerator Door.
Confessions of Super Mom has been optioned for film.
Melanie Lynne Hauser was a stay-at-home mom who decided to begin writing after her two young boys grew up and needed less attention. In fact, a specific episode turned Hauser to a writing career. "When asked what his mommy did for a living, Melanie's wise cracking little boy replied, ‘My mom cleans houses,’" reported a contributor to the Moms of Reinvention Web site. "Melanie says, that with that fateful comment, ‘Perhaps it was time to look around for something else to do.’ And so, with her family as her comedic inspiration, Melanie embarked on a career as an author."
Hauser wrote three novels that went unpublished before turning to her experience as a homemaker to pen Confessions of Super Mom. The novel introduces readers to middle-aged Birdie, who has a surly ex-husband and two teenagers, Martin and Kelly. She also works as a checkout person in the local grocery store. One day Birdie has an accident that turns her life around. Working with several cleaning chemicals, Birdie is overcome and passes out only to awaken with strange superpowers, including superhearing abilities and a sixth sense that tells her whenever a child is in trouble. These rather mundane abilities as far as superpowers go are enhanced, however, by her ability to spew Swiffer supercleaning fluid from her fingertips to clean anything instantly. She can also use her right hand as a superabsorbent sponge. Before long, she has a superhero costume made by her geeky son, Martin, who also serves as his mom's sidekick. Like all superheroes, Birdie has an evil nemesis. His name is Lex Osborne, a self-made millionaire and husband of the local parent-teacher association president, who continues to make a fortune producing junk food for kids. His evil plan is to use video games to hook kids even more on his nutritionally valueless food.
"From the book's very first page you find yourself grinning," wrote Jill McAfee on Bookreporter.com. "Every mom can relate to the daily challenges of multitasking and navigating kids and household chores." Blogcritics.org contributor Staci Schoff advised: "Be warned, the plot is a little silly if you're measuring the book next to reality, but if you look at it for what it is—a feel-good comic book for grown-ups—it's both charming and fun." Several other reviewers also noted that the book is a fun read, adding that there is an underlying theme to the tale. For example, a Publishers Weekly contributor observed that Confessions of Super Mom is "unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch despite the cheery veneer." Writing in Booklist, Beth Leistensnider commented that the story includes "a socially responsible message about consumerism, but it doesn't get in the way of the high jinks."
Hauser continues the adventures of Birdie in her next book,Super Mom Saves the World. "When I wrote Confessions of Super Mom, I wrote it as a stand alone book," the author stated on the Backstory Web site. "Meaning I had no thought of continuing the story further." The author continued: "In a way, I loved them [the characters] too much. So much that I was afraid to mess with their minds and lives again!" Nevertheless, her publisher, family, friends, and readers eventually convinced her to write a sequel.
In Super Mom Saves the World, Birdie is now a member of the famed Justice League of America, whose members include Batman, Superman, and the Green Lantern. As she tries to adjust to her new life, Birdie finds herself engaged to a local scientist named Carl Sayers, who has a teenage son of his own. There are problems, however, including the fact that Birdie's son does not like Carl's son. Furthermore, Birdie's ex-husband is divorcing his second wife and wants Birdie back. All the while, Birdie senses trouble at the Little League stadium in Astro Park involving corrupt politicians and a disgruntled school janitor. Also on hand is Carrie Peters, who works a day job with Birdie at the grocery store in order to hide her true identity as a therapist to superheroes. The book reveals more of Birdie's superpowers, which include the "Merciless Gaze," which causes people to automatically tell the truth, and the "Apron of Anticipation," which produces snacks for hungry kids.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Super Mom Saves the World "a quaint behind-the-scenes look into the modern-day problems of middle age." Mary Ward Menke noted on the January Magazine Web site that, while the "satire of the super hero genre is silly but entertaining, the book's strengths lie in the real world." Menke explained: "Birdie's relationships with her children, her fiancé and his son, her ex-husband and her friends are complex and all-too-real. The combination of humor and pathos works well in making the characters believable and likable."
Hauser told CA: "I've always lived in different worlds, through my imagination and then, later, through my love of theater and acting. Storytelling is the main constant in my life; I think that's what acting really is about. So it was a natural evolution to go from telling stories with others' words, to telling them with my own. Plus, I have always been a bookworm, a voracious reader, and that has been the best training I could have hoped for as a writer.
"Good storytellers who concentrate on characters, who write of real people, influence my work. Yes, I know my book is about a superhero, but at heart, it's about a very real, very ordinary woman trying to make the best of her life as a single mother. So I'm drawn to authors who also explore characters who are not sensational, highly stylized people. Some of my favorite authors include Sue Miller, Elinor Lipman, and Anne Tyler.
"I tend to percolate an idea for a long time before I realize I'm ready to write about it. I'll have a passing idea, think that it should be a book, and then I walk around with it for a while, letting it take shape in my mind. Once this is done—and it tends to overwhelm me, almost violently, the moment it's crystal clear—I can write fairly quickly. I like to write something every day, but I won't put a time limit or a word limit on it. I find this very intimidating, to sit down with some sort of arbitrary deadline hanging over me on a daily basis. I tend to write in short amounts of time, at first—a couple of hours a day, at most. However, at some point, usually about two-thirds of the way through, I'll not be able to stop myself, and will write all day, at any time of the day, whatever it takes to get it all down.
"The most suprising thing I have learned as a writer is how many people desire to be an author, too—usually because of a very idealistic, unrealistic idea of what the life is actually like. But it is also surprising that so many people desire it—when, at the same time, so few of them are actually reading what's already been written. That's perplexing to me, coming to this first from a reader's point of view.
"My favorite book of my works is Confessions of Super Mom. I had a lot I wanted to say with this book. Yes, the superhero conceit was catchy and fun, but I really envisioned the book as being about so many other things that women of a certain age start to face, particularly those who have contentedly given themselves over to motherhood, only to suddenly realize that one day, their children will leave. And suddenly they'll be faced with the terrifying question of, ‘Who am I, now, if I'm not "The Mom?’" That is the heart of the book, to me. Being given the wonderful opportunity to explore this in a way that has given so many women joy and humor; that's been my greatest blessing.
"I'm a great believer in making people laugh, while also giving them something to think about, something that touches them, too. Entertainment is a good thing, and I hope my books have had that effect. I don't believe that reading has to be a painful endeavor; I don't believe that funny books deserve the scant respect that they seem to get. So I'm hoping that people will laugh a lot, cry a little, and simply enjoy reading my work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2005, Beth Leistensnider, review of Confessions of Super Mom, p. 63.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of Super Mom Saves the World, p. 42.
Library Journal, October 1, 2005, Beth Gibbs, review of Confessions of Super Mom, p. 65.
Publishers Weekly, August 15, 2005, review of Confessions of Super Mom, p. 33; May 1, 2006, Michelle Kung, "My Mom, the Hero," review of Confessions of Super Mom, p. 12.
Backstory,http://mjroseblog.typepad.com/backstory/ (March 12, 2007), M.J. Rose, "Melanie Lynne Hauser's Backstory."
Blogcritics.org,http://blogcritics.org/ (November 13, 2006), Staci Schoff, review of Confessions of Super Mom.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October 24, 2007), Jill McAfee, review of Confessions of Super Mom.
January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (October 24, 2007), Mary Ward Menke, "The Hero's (Swiffer) Journey," review of Super Mom Saves the World.
Melanie Lynne Hauser Home Page,http://www.melanielynnehauser.com (October 24, 2007).
Melanie Lynne Hauser MySpace Web site,http://www.myspace.com/melanielynnehauser (October 24, 2007).
Moms of Reinvention,http://momsofreinvention.blogspot.com/ (September 29, 2006), "Mom Novelist Hits Super Stardom."