Written by Marilou Giammona, email@example.com Tuesday, 19 November 2013 00:00
Floral Park Memorial High School alum and former valedictorian Janis Powers (’87), an inveterate traveler who has visited more than 30 countries, tapped into her Long Island roots to create the backdrop of her debut novel, Mama’s Got a Brand New Job. Her essential message? Despite corporate America’s apparent acceptance, there’s not much room for working mothers in the boardroom.
Powers’ main character is Maxine Pedersen, a patent attorney at a high-powered Manhattan firm who has just become a mother. “She was 100 percent career before, so the math doesn’t work,” Powers says of her leading lady. “Maxine comes to the conclusion that she has to redefine herself.”
In the novel, Powers takes readers through Maxine’s tribulations, which are infused with wit and signature cocktails—Maxine is a mixology enthusiast—such as a Long Island sangria and The Gulag.
As is often characteristic of debut novels, Maxine is loosely based on Powers herself. An architecture graduate from Yale University who then went on to earn her M.B.A. in corporate strategy from the University of Michigan, Powers landed a position with Deloitte Consulting in the firm’s healthcare practice.
“I loved it because it was all problem solving and I got to travel all over the U.S.,” she said. “I learned all about the healthcare system, which is fascinating, kind of a personal passion, and I learned all about corporate America.”
Powers rose through the ranks until it all came to a grinding halt when she gave birth to her first child. Although she did return to Deloitte soon after her daughter was born, she made it clear that she couldn’t travel. After 10 months, the firm said they no longer had the budget for her position.
“At that moment, I was thinking, ‘I was a high performer, why are you not trying to retain me?’” she said. “Ultimately I wound up staying home. I have two awesome kids [and] was a stay-at-home mom for almost 10 years.”
Armed with the new luxury of time, “I sat down and started writing an autobiography because I wanted to share what happened to me with other women,” Powers said. Over a 10-year span of writing, she changed course, shifting the story from autobiography to fiction.
“The more I wrote the character, the less she became like me, but
what happens to her is what happened to me,” she said. “There are certainly a lot of aspects about her that I would like to think are like me. I absolutely wanted to create a fun, bright, intelligent, powerful woman.”
Powers is selling the message “Smart girls are fun” on T-shirts and onesies through www.mamasgotabrandnewjob.com. The book itself is available on Amazon as a paperback or a Kindle download. Readers can follow Maxine on Twitter @MaxinePedersen, and those who share a passion for mixology can get her cocktail recipes from the website.