“Codename Cupcake has a happy, casually conversational style that keeps you reading and laughing along with Molly, who has an equally honest and winning way about her. That’s a good thing because the plot requires a stupendous suspension of disbelief, a leap of fictional faith that spans the George Washington Bridge. Molly makes that leap fun to take. And the credit goes to DiGiacomo, who makes this light and airy romp through the mean streets of suburban New Jersey a minivan joy ride.”
Here’s a great article about Codename Cupcake from the Montclair Times:
DiGiacomo spoofs spies and moms
There are times when a frazzled mom can’t find any humor in anything. Montclair author Jillian Green DiGiacomo, though, has done exactly that in her first novel, “Codename Cupcake.” She will be appearing at Watchung Booksellers on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m.
“Cupcake” is a witty spoof of spy thrillers. Suburban mom Molly Peterson goes into New York City to celebrate a moment of freedom on her daughter’s first day of preschool. However, when she becomes a witness to a crime in progress, she thwarts the perpetrator – and becomes a news sensation in the process.
From there, Molly is recruited into a “super secret organization” in the federal government. Seems her daughter’s school is mysteriously getting chillier by the day. To her horror, the situation requires her to infiltrate the PTA – and join every single committee.
DiGiacomo says the book came from her own experience. “It’s absolutely based on the emotion and the frustration, and the best of intentions in and around motherhood and parenting and PTA,” she said. “But when I think about books that I’ve read, they’re always about the ingénue or the single woman whose friends are all married or the old lady looking back on her life. But where was this person in the trenches with the kids?
“When I started writing that story, it was just a lot of complaining and whining, and she was just going to turn into this Oprah type, a phenomenon.”
Instead, Molly is zapped by an “enhancement ray” which gives her superhuman domestic skills – such as making super-awesome cupcakes while uncovering secret spy capers.
“Of course I want to be a supermom,” DiGiacomo admitted. “You want to be absolutely everything, and to be recruited for your talents, and to be able to get that recognition that you don’t get at home from your kids. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone say, ‘Truly you make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust cut off’ and to get an award for that – and a bonus?”
DiGiacomo said that the moral of the story is that parents should cut themselves some slack. “I don’t think anybody can do everything,” she said. “You can’t have a day where you have the home-cooked meal and you’re playing Monopoly with your kids and you’ve read them a book for two hours. But over the course of a lifetime you experience a full life.”
To DiGiacomo, the answer has nothing to do with enhancement rays or super secret organizations – just hard work and dedication. “All parents are superheroes,” she said. “Period.”
Behind The Book: CODENAME CUPCAKE
STAY-AT-HOME-MOM TURNED SUPERHERO SPY NOVEL.
Write what you know. That’s what they say. It’s actually one of the first pieces of advice any new author will receive. Several years ago, I was determined to write a novel, but what did I know? More importantly, what did I know that anyone else would want to read about? I had two kids, two dogs, a husband who wore a business suit to work every day and I lived in the suburbs. Not a lot of drama. Not a lot of mystery. On the surface, anyway. I wanted to write a story about a mom. A real mom, in the trenches. That’s something I knew intimately. I wanted to present a kickass answer to that most infuriating question: “Are you working OR are you home with your kids?” I’m home with the kids AND I’m working!
I wrote about sixty pages of my new novel which turned out to be less high art and more whining about the difficulties and frustrations of life at home with kids. BORING! The novel I was writing was not the one I wanted to write much less one I would ever subject anyone else to read. Instead of forging ahead with the wrong story, I stopped writing altogether. I put my pen down. It wasn’t writer’s block, it was writer’s fortress. Months later, I lamented my situation to my sister. I complained that parents are unsung heroes and the work we do is nothing short of heroic. So why couldn’t I turn that passion into decent prose? She looked me straight in the eye and said “What if you write about a mom who really is a superhero?”
Of course! My main character would be a supermom. I picked up my pen again. But what did I know about superheroes or muscle bound people in tights flying around the moon to save the world form utter annihilation? I was stuck again. I had no business whatsoever writing a superhero novel. I put the pen back down.
Then I thought of the great fiction that I loved and could not figure out how my favorite authors did it. What could Stephen King have known about a car that comes to life before he wrote Christine? What did JK Rowling really know about snitches and quaffles before Harry Potter ever took to the Quitich pitch? Of course they didn’t “know” these things. They imagined these things but they embedded their fabrications in worlds and around characters that they did know and understand.
I knew about being a mom and I understood the pressures and pretenses that I experienced in that role. Placing my heroine, in a crazy reality would give me a fun and unique way of exploring those pressures and pretenses. It was then my job to create a “super reality”, develop a plot and a cast of characters that were consistent with the reality I would create. Simple, right? I just had to merge life in the suburbs with life in the world of super spies and super villains. Once my panic attack subsided, I got to work. The result: my new novel, CODENAME CUPCAKE, which I like to call an old-fashioned, stay-at-home-mom turned superhero spy novel.
CODENAME CUPCAKE is the story of Molly Peterson, a frazzled suburban mom who takes her first day “off” from full-time parenting to visit New York City. When she witnesses a crime in progress, Molly’s mommy instincts kick in and she instinctively grabs the gun out of the criminal’s hand, just as she would take any dangerous object away from a child. And with that, her life changes forever.
Recorded by a bystander’s iPhone, the “hero mom” video goes viral and Molly becomes an instant, albeit reluctant, celebrity. But that’s just the beginning. Molly is soon recruited by a super-secret spy agency that notices her potential on that viral video. At first she is thrilled: super powers! An “enhanced” mini-van! Secret tunnels from New Jersey to Manhattan spy headquarters! Life is great!
But then Molly is given her assignment: she must infiltrate the PTA at her own son’s elementary school. A staunch PTA avoider, she is disappointed to learn that her assignment will require her to not only join the PTA but “become” the PTA. Midwood Elementary School is cooling at an alarming rate and Molly must spend as much time as possible in the building to determine the cause and help prevent a potential calamity. She is completely on board for the spying part. It’s the PTA part that she dreads.
With a back drop of ordinary school functions including a bake sale and a fall concert, CODENAME CUPCAKE offers a silly suburban take on the superhero genre. It is a send up of motherhood, the PTA, comic books and spy novels.
Before writing CODENAME CUPCAKE, I had never dreamed I’d ever write a spy novel. But once I created a superhero, I had to give that hero a crime to solve and a villain to defeat. That meant stretching the bounds of what I knew. And to my surprise, it all came together: Turning my suburban mom character into a supermom forced me to examine “normal” everyday life in the suburbs and present it in a unique and heightened manner. CODENAME CUPCAKE is a novel loaded with both the outrageous and the ordinary. There is tension and suspense juxtaposed with recipes and PTA meetings..
Years ago, I sat down to write a novel about a stay-at-home-mom and wound up writing a comic spy novel.. Maybe someday I will write another. But chances are, if I sit down with the hopes of writing a spy novel, I will end up writing a lyrical poem about spiders. Luckily, I know absolutely nothing about spiders.
I was recently asked by Goodreads to give my best piece of advice to aspiring writers. Thought I’d share my answer here:
Fresh Eyes!! You know what you wanted to write. You know what you wanted to convey. But it is only when you share your writing with others that you will truly know if you accomplished what you meant to accomplish. It is extremely stressful and humbling to hold up your work to the scrutiny of others but if you can find a few trusted readers, and you can open your mind to their opinions, suggestions, and questions, your work will only get stronger. I find that my readers are invaluable at showing me where there are cracks or inconsistencies in my work. I don’t always agree with their solutions but their fresh eyes are priceless when it comes to identifying issues big and small within my writing.
Codename Cupcake received its first official review and it’s 5 stars!
Here’s an excerpt:
“…the pivotal figure is a regular person, a “frazzled mother of two” as the description says and she is definitely lovable! If you’re looking for thrill, you’ll find quite a lot of that too! I’d say this book is worth checking out! No matter what you prefer reading, Codename Cupcake will entertain you and put a smile on your face!” – The Page Hungry Book Worm