(Rebecca Willis Motew)
Children: three. Education: University of Illinois, B.A.; Villanova University, M.A. (English).
Home—Bolton, MA. E-mail—[email protected]
Lit Brothers (department store), Philadelphia, PA, advertising copywriter; direct mail salesperson, author, playwright, and adjunct professor.
Received awards for Peppers, Paul, and Elizabeth.
Peppers, Paul, and Elizabeth: A Comedy in One Act, Stardust Press (Hudson, MA), 1995.
Coupon Girl, Making It Publishing (New York, NY), 2006.
Becky Motew's debut novel Coupon Girl is the story of thirty-six-year-old Jeanie Callahan, who works as a direct-mail marketer, selling coupon space to local small businesses. Jeanie has ambitions beyond hawking coupons and keeping an eye on her octogenarian grandfather (who is seemingly being pursued by every widow within a radius of thirty miles): she wants to qualify for her employer's "employee with the most new sales" award, reported Lisa Davis-Craig in Library Journal, and as a result ends up joining a community theater production of The Sound of Music as a chorus nun in an effort to recruit new clients. "This chorus girl," declared Romantic Times Online reviewer Lauren Spielberg, "has her hands full ensnaring clients and keeping up with her married best friend's attempt to procreate." Things, however, don't go the way she anticipated; even though a burgeoning romance with the production's director goes sour (after he asks her to read his poetry), she nonetheless begins to enjoy community theater and finds a new interest in life. Despite Jeanie's failure in love, wrote Aleksandra Kostovski in her Booklist review of the book, "there's plenty to love about this quirky novel."
Motew based the novel at least in part on examples and events drawn from her own experience. "I sold direct mail advertising to small business owners in Worcester," Massachusetts, she told Karin Gillespie in an interview for Southern Comfort. "Buy one, get one, baby. Pizza guys, dry cleaners, wallpaper hangers, chiropractors—all of them were my customers…. But also during these years," Motew continued, "I had been very active in community theatre and I wanted to write about that too. Could I do both? I decided I could." Motew has decades of experience working with local community theater groups, and in fact her first published work was a play, Peppers, Paul, and Elizabeth: A Comedy in One Act. "I had never been satisfied with other renderings of amateur theatrics," the author revealed in a Backstory article. "I wanted to show it the way it really is, including but not limited to bizarreness, extreme addictive qualities, and the eternal suspension of disbelief."
The author credits one of her first jobs, working as an advertising copywriter for Lit Brothers Department Store in Philadelphia, with really teaching her how to write. At first, according to her Web page, Motew "routinely had her ads sent back for rewriting," but "eventually, she caught on. Lits kept insisting that what she wrote had to make sense and though Becky found that inconvenient and frustrating in the extreme, by the time she enrolled at Villanova University for an MA in English, her copy was being accepted nearly every day." Motew explained in an interview with Kristen King in the Rose & Thorn that "academic writing is luxurious…. All the readers wear thick glasses. You can take seven paragraphs to ponder Edgar Allan Poe's use of the word ‘pit.’ And then another seven for ‘pendulum.’ Advertising copywriting works like this: Assignment—Convey the following information in five words; don't leave anything out…. This has influenced all my writing—by getting me to the point faster." She continued, "I no longer think getting there is half the fun. It isn't, not for the readers. They want to get there now. The train is pulling into the station in just a few minutes." Motew also revealed in her Southern Comfort interview that she feels the best part of the writing life is enjoyed in quiet, solitary moments. "It's typing the last few words, sitting back, and saying, ‘I think it's pretty good,’" she told Gillespie. "That's the best."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2006, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of Coupon Girl, p. 32.
Library Journal, April 15, 2006, Lisa Davis-Craig, review of Coupon Girl, p. 67.
Backstory,http://mjroseblog.typepad.com/ (June 26, 2008), "Becky Motew's Backstory."
Becky Motew Home Page,http://www.beckymotew.com (June 26, 2008).
Coupons from the Edge,http://beckymotew.blogspot.com/ (June 26, 2008), author profile.
Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (June 26, 2008), Lauren Spielberg, review of Coupon Girl.
Rose & Thorn,http://www.theroseandthornezine.com/ (July 7, 2006), Kristen King, "Becky Motew."
Southern Comfort,http://karingillespie.blogspot.com/ (May 20, 2007), Karin Gillespie, "The GCC Presents Becky Motew, Author of Coupon Girl."