Strohmeyer, Sarah

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Strohmeyer, Sarah

PERSONAL:

Born in Bethlehem, PA; married Charles Merriman (a lawyer); children: Anna, Sam. Education: Tufts University, B.A., 1984; attended Case Western University.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Montpelier, VT. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist and writer: Former reporter at Bethlehem Globe-Times, Bethlehem, PA; Home News, New Brunswick, NJ; Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH; and Valley News, Lebanon, NH.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Agatha Award and Romantic Times Online Award for Best First Mystery, both for Bubbles Unbound.

WRITINGS:

Barbie Unbound: A Parody of the Barbie Obsession, photographs by Geoff Hanson, New Victoria (Norwich, VT), 1997.

The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives: A Novel, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

The Cinderella Pact: A Novel, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

"BUBBLES YABLONSKY" MYSTERY SERIES

Bubbles Unbound, Dutton (New York, NY), 2001.

Bubbles in Trouble, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.

Bubbles Ablaze, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.

Bubbles a Broad, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.

Bubbles Betrothed, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Sarah Strohmeyer wrote Bubbles Unbound, a mystery novel about a beautician-reporter-detective named Bubbles Yablonsky, following an interview she conducted with mystery novelist Janet Evanovich. The similarities between Evanovich's work and Strohmeyer's creation were noted by GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist, who wrote that "having studied at the feet of the Master Evanovich, first-novelist Strohmeyer unleashes Lehigh, Pennsylvania's Bubbles Yablonsky."

Strohmeyer's second installment of the "Bubbles Yablonsky" series, Bubbles in Trouble, follows Bubbles into Amish country as she searches for her friend who disappeared on her wedding day. The investigation is made even more interesting by Bubbles's sacrifice of make-up and spandex in order to be accepted into the Amish community. With a cast of characters that range from a neo-Nazi chocolatier to Bubbles's crazy mother Lulu, Bubbles in Trouble continues the same level of enjoyment to Bubbles fans the first novel offered. GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist found that "Bubbles ‘Plain’ doesn't really work"; however, "Bubbles' relationship to her brilliant teen daughter and to the elusive but hunky photographer Stiletto helps carry one through." A critic in Publishers Weekly wrote that Strohmeyer "successfully navigates the fine line between humorous stereotype and sympathetic amateur investigator."

The "Bubbles Yablonsky" series continued in yearly installments. In 2003, Strohmeyer released Bubbles Ablaze, which opens as Bubbles is being ordered by her editor to cover a breaking story at a local coal mine. When Bubbles arrives at the location, she finds her cousin's car. Her cousin, Stinky, is the cartographer for the mine's owners. Expecting to find her cousin inside, she stumbles upon her boyfriend Stiletto. After the two discover the dead body of a car dealer further inside the coal mine, they narrowly escape the cave's collapse—which was rigged to kill them. After reemerging, Bubbles finds that Stinky is missing and must help to solve the case. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote: "The dumb-blonde schtick works well with the whole loony business, and Strohmeyer's sharp eye for styles and regional details … adds to the realism and the charm."

In 2004's Bubbles a Broad, "Strohmeyer expertly plays Bubbles's blue-collar, working-class background against the monolithic … country club types and their wives," according to another Publishers Weekly contributor. At the beginning of the novel, readers learn of the class warfare taking place at Lehigh Steel. Shortly thereafter, the widow of a recently murdered executive for the company—who was wrongly convicted of the homicide—asks Bubbles for help because she is convinced that the person who murdered her husband is also attempting to kill her.

In Bubbles Betrothed, Stiletto and Bubbles claim to be engaged, but it is actually a ploy to prevent Stiletto's bosses from transferring him to England. Nevertheless, things are looking up for Bubbles. She has finally been given a full-time job as a reporter at the local paper, and of course, there is always another case to look into. After an imprisoned murderer is found poisoned in her cell, the police demand the notes from an interview Bubbles conducted with the inmate. Investigators suddenly doubt the culpability of the woman who had been convicted for the crime, and Bubbles's notes may lead them to the true culprit. In a review for MBR Bookwatch a critic wrote: "The heroine may not have a first class education or an upscale wardrobe, but she has plenty of heart and that is why readers care about her."

Strohmeyer has also begun writing stand-alone novels. Although she notes on her Home Page that more books featuring Bubbles may be in the making, the author added: "For now, though, I'm having a gas writing stand-alone novels about women's lives, about being overweight or stuck in limbo waiting for life to start or being ugly in a society that puts a premium on physical appearance." In The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives: A Novel, its not so much Claire Stark's physical appearance that sets her country-club elite neighbors against her but the fact that she is a modest, intelligent person who finds herself suddenly living among the snobbishly wealthy after marrying John Harding. Sheila Riley, writing in the Library Journal, noted that "the novel's humor centers on the disparate world views and priorities held by Claire and the … clique members." A Publishers Weekly contributor called The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives "wicked, frothy fun."

The Cinderella Pact: A Novel features overweight Nola Devlin, who is not only the editor of the celebrity tabloid Sass! but also one of its extremely popular columnists writing under the pseudonym of Belinda Apple. When Nola, writing as Belinda, tells a story about a fantastic new diet, two of her friends convince Nola to join them in following the diet. In the meantime, Nola finds it increasingly difficult to keep her popular alter-ego's identity a secret. Carol Haggas, writing in Booklist, commented that the author "softens her trenchant satire with obvious compassion for her lovable characters." Noting that, unlike other fairytale-like stories, "the lady effects her own transformation," Library Journal contributor Sheila Riley went on to call the book "very enjoyable."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Bubbles Unbound, p. 927; May 15, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Bubbles in Trouble, p. 1580; September 15, 2005, Carol Haggas, review of The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives: A Novel, p. 33; June 1, 2006, Carol Haggas, review of The Cinderella Pact: A Novel, p. 40.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of Bubbles Ablaze, p. 647; April 15, 2004, review of Bubbles a Broad, p. 366; December 15, 2004, review of Bubbles Betrothed, p. 1169; August 15, 2005, review of The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, p. 880; May 1, 2006, review of The Cinderella Pact, p. 437.

Library Journal, June 1, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Bubbles Ablaze, p. 172; May 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Bubbles a Broad, p. 144; March 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Bubbles Betrothed, p. 71; October 15, 2005, Sheila Riley, review of The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, p. 48; June 1, 2006, Sheila Riley, review of The Cinderella Pact, p. 113.

MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Bubbles Betrothed.

Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2002, review of Bubbles in Trouble; May 26, 2003, review of Bubbles Ablaze, p. 52; March 29, 2004, review of Bubbles a Broad, p. 41; August 22, 2005, review of The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, p. 34.

ONLINE

Sarah Strohmeyer Web site,http://www.sarahstrohmeyer.com (May 10, 2007).

TeenReads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (May 10, 2007), Marie Hashima Lofton, review of The Cinderella Pact.