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Government Girl Stacy Parker Aab Hits the Booksigning Circuit

I’ve only been to the Borders on 1801 K Street in Washington, D.C., one other time for a reading, and the area has changed a great deal since I worked in the city nearly 10 years ago.  But hubby and I wandered the city streets for a while looking for something to eat before the reading since I get out of work long before the 6:30 PM event and he had the day off.

We found this out of the way lounge, Recessions, and decided to give it a try.  The way down into the lounge was a bit odd, like winding your way through antiseptic hallways only to find yourself in a mafia den.  We had some cheap eats and drinks, but the service was really slow.

When we got to Borders, the front display of Stacy Parker Aab‘s book, Government Girl, had been picked over quite a bit.  I did my part and picked up two copies and immediately checked them out at the register; I’d even brought my ARC.  While waiting for the program to start, I read a book and my hubby wandered the bookstore’s DVD section and collectors’ books.  The reading started a little bit late, but that provided more time for the stragglers to come in and fill up the event’s seating.  I was glad to see so many young women in attendance, who either currently went to George Washington University, like Aab had, or were in the political arena already.

Aab read from three sections of her memoir, and at times she seemed a bit nervous.  But with a first book, who wouldn’t be?!  One of my favorite sections of the book about Secret Service agents was a real treat to hear in her voice and with her inflections.  This is a section she referred to as an ode of sorts.  I’d say it pays homage to the lonely nature of being a Secret Service agent for sure.  This was my favorite part of the reading.

Following the reading portion of the evening, the floor was opened up to questions from the audience and there was a wide variety.  While she was asked about balancing the stress of working in the White House with her romantic and recreational life, she was also asked about how the atmosphere changed in the White House when the Monica Lewinsky scandal hit during the Clinton Administration.  Here’s a little bit of how she answered the atmosphere question (you can thank my husband for all the photos and video because I was nervous for some reason — I seem to always get that way with authors I enjoy, like I don’t know what to say in person):

I think some of the other questions about fashion advice on a budget and dating were a bit strange to ask an author who is about 10 years removed from the area given that things change in D.C. so rapidly, and I’m afraid those audience members didn’t really get the answers they had hoped for.  Overall, it was a good reading, and it was great to meet Aab in person after all the lovely emails we have exchanged.  I’ll leave you with two pictures, one of the signing line and one of me getting the books signed.

Giveaway Details; This one is open only to readers of the blog OUTSIDE the US/Canada:

1 SIGNED copy of Government Girl is up for grabs.

1.  Leave a comment on this post about whether you get nervous meeting authors you enjoy.
2.  Let me know if you have commented on my review, guest post from Aab, and/or my D.C. Literature Examiner article for additional entries.
3.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook, etc. the giveaway and leave a link for another entry.

Deadline is Feb. 19, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST.  Good Luck!

Stacy Parker Aab Talks About Interning and Writing

(Photo credit: David Wentworth)

Stacy Parker Aab was a White House intern and staff member, who has written her first memoir, Government Girl.  I’ve reviewed the book, please check out my thoughts.

Stacy was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to write up a guest post about transitioning from interning in the White House and becoming a published author.  Please give her a warm welcome.

Growing up, I always felt that I was two kinds of things when I was supposed to be one or the other, be it black/white, citygirl/suburban, or politico/writer.  While I made peace with my heritage, and loved inner city Detroit as much as I did comfortable Troy, the poles of political and creative living have always tugged at me hard.
I think back to senior year of high school.  I literally sat there with my hands in the air, palms up, weighing my options back and forth: should I try to be a writer (and go to a nice tucked-away liberal arts college)?  Or should I study government and try to right the wrongs I saw all around me (meaning a school in DC)?  I decided on government, thinking that no matter where my activism led, I would have enough skills upon graduation to earn a living wage. The writing life could never make that promise.
So, I began study at The George Washington University.  I lived in a freshman dorm three blocks away from the White House complex.  Within months, I volunteered for the Office of Communications, headed by George Stephanopoulos.  A few months later, I was promoted to George’s West Wing office. I suddenly had a blue pass, giving me instant access to the complex and the ability to walk freely within the West Wing.  I was living my political dream.
Yet second semester, I enrolled in a poetry workshop.  The greatest happiness I knew was walking to class with a new poem in my folder, knowing that the professor would recognize it as a promising poem, knowing, even without her approval, that it was a good piece of work.  This made me happy, and this happiness came from the inside.  Organic.  And I wanted to feel it again.  If I thought I had chosen forever between “politico” and “writer” I was wrong.  I was going to be both.
I continued to intern for 3+ years, graduated, went to England on scholarship for a year, came back to DC and returned to the White House as staff in 1997. I was Paul Begala’s assistant.  While I loved helping Paul, it didn’t take long to figure out that I wouldn’t last as support staff—that the job didn’t challenge me enough, that I needed to hurry up and get promoted to more substantial work.  During that time I kept writing.  I read work by Tennessee Williams and Philip Roth that stunned me, showed me the true power of story.  I realized that if my biggest dream was to change hateful attitudes, storytelling could sneak over the heart’s fortress walls much faster than the effects of any law. 
Then Monica hit.  For months, we lived and breathed scandal.  I felt angry at the president for his role in the mess, but I was always angrier at the investigators and his outside detractors for I believed they didn’t really care about the rule of law, or perjury, or how a young former intern may have been mistreated—they only cared about beating down the president, and they’d finally found a stick they thought could deliver the fatal blow. As the president fought for his life, we staffers watched our words.  Stayed quiet, if possible.  Anything we said, or wrote, about our work, about anyone, could possibly be subpoenaed by investigators. I felt like we were all being choked.
During this time I was radicalized.  I’d worked in government and it was wonderful but it was time to give the other part of me, the part of me that wasn’t going away, the writer part of me, a chance for primacy.  I left full-time government service September 1998.  Ever since, my goal has been simple: full-time writerhood.  Not an easy goal, for it’s hard to excel, and even if you do, it’s hard to make a living.  But I’m still trying.  Luckily, I love teaching writing, too.  If I can keep up a life of writing and teaching, I will remain very, very happy.  And if I can sneak over a few fortresses and soften some hard places, then I’ll know I took the right path.
Thanks, Stacy, for sharing with us your story.  Interested in winning 1 of 3 copies of her book (US/Canada only, sorry), please visit this giveaway link.

Government Girl by Stacy Parker Aab

Stacy Parker Aab’s Government Girl chronicles her time in the White House during the Clinton Administration from the age of 18 to her early 20s.  Expecting the bulk of the memoir to be about the Monica Lewinsky scandal or the like would be a mistake, although Monica’s fall from grace could have just as well been Stacy’s story if she did not have the personal drive to achieve more, live within the confines of her duties and principles, and focus on self-satisfaction.

“You want acknowledgment — all that comes when you’ve done a good job, when you’re so deserving.  You want that light.  That hand on your shoulder.  At least if you’re like me and this sort of loving affirmation from authority figures still feeds you, even if you wish it would not.”  (Page 13 of ARC)

Being young and in politics, Stacy had a daunting task of navigating an adult world when she was not quite secure in her self-identity and still evolving as a woman.  She’s a product of a single mother, an alcoholic father, and her mixed heritage as an African-American with a mostly unknown-to-her German ancestry.  All of these elements come into play as she navigates the White House media and policy web and the knotted ropes of her possible career ladder.

“Maybe it was like going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and seeing a rubber version of yourself blown up and ‘walking’ with the help of a dozen attendants, this version of you more than ten stories tall, knowing that your celebrity was just that, something outside you, something as big and as vulnerable as giant balloons”  (Page 87 of ARC)

The narrative of this memoir is smooth in its transitions between her intern days and her past in Troy, Michigan.  The struggles of family life and the dedication of her mother to help her out with schooling expenses and other costs clearly influenced Stacy’s drive for financial independence, even if the job opportunities at the time were not the most fun.  Politics is at the forefront of her work in the White House, but it often takes a backseat to her internal struggle to become a strong, independent woman with a clear idea of where she wishes to be and what she wishes to achieve.

“Working, I wanted that feeling of rowing on the Potomac River, that feeling in the eight with all of us pulling our oars.  Sixteen arms and sixteen legs powering that slim boat forward, as we were lead by our coxswain, as our coach called out to us from his motorized boat nearby.”  (Page 39 of ARC)

In many ways, what drives Stacy is the hole inside her — an absence of fatherly love — as she falls into transient relationships with co-workers, fellow students, and others.  While this desire to fill this emptiness does little to improve her romantic life, it does often push her to perfection in her work life.  In terms of memoir, readers will find Government Girl is deliberate, vivid, and eye-opening — especially in terms of behind-the-scenes politics.  Readers will find Stacy’s prose frank and honest, almost like a friend telling a portion of her life story to another friend.

Please stay tuned for a guest post from Stacy Parker Aab on Feb. 2, 2010.

Interested in winning 1 of 3 copies of her book (US/Canada only, sorry), please visit this giveaway link.

About the Author:  (Photo credit: David Wentworth)

Writer, blogger, and former political aide, Stacy Parker Aab served for five years in the Clinton White House, first as a long-time intern in George Stephanopoulos’s office, and later as an assistant to Paul Begala. She traveled as a presidential advance person, preparing and staffing trips abroad for the president and Mrs. Clinton. She also served as a special assistant for Gov. David Paterson in New York.  Please check out her Website.

Also check out this video where she talks about her memoir:

If you are interested in Government Girl, please check out the rest of the TLC Book Tour.

I’m also counting this as my 7th book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.

FTC Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Government Girl from the publisher for a TLC Book Tour and review.  Clicking on title links or images will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.