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The Drummer's Widow

THE DRUMMER’S WIDOW is the story of one woman’s journey to understand a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for thirty-five years.

Widow Marisa reviews grief memoirs on her blog, edits bodice-ripper romances for income, and still shares the evening cocktail hour with her deceased husband.

Her life is disrupted when she is forced to rent rooms in her Tribeca loft to pay the bills. Her new tenants include Cassandra, a runaway Hollywood diva, and Martin, an up-and-coming jazz guitarist. When Martin asks Marisa to manage his band, she accepts the challenge and after one successful collaboration, takes the band on a European festival tour.

This decision catapults her into the unfamiliar world of life after love where she moves between the bittersweet memories of a loving marriage and the immediate challenges of the present.

Marisa soon discovers that she and Cassandra have much in common including their unwillingness to let go of their losses and move forward in their lives. Marisa’s deceased husband and confidante, Jules, travels with her on tour; and Cassandra’s former manager and lover, Ryan, follows close behind waiting for opportunities to reclaim his artist. As Marisa grapples with her new independence, she discovers a hidden strength and realizes that life always offers new possibilities if you’re willing.

THE DRUMMER’S WIDOW explores loss and love, fear and strength, and the ultimate resiliency of the human spirit.

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JOANNA FITZPATRICK - My first attempt at writing came about when I worked on Hollywood screenplays and learned to see and write through the camera’s eye. The result was the screenplay and film production of “White Lilacs and Pink Champagne.” I loved the work and might have continued, but I had a falling out with the director and, after he removed my film credit from “White Lilacs,” I left his company. As a single mother in need of income, I next found a job through the L.A. Times classified ads. And though I had little to no experience, the interview went well and I was hired by an artist management firm. My employer represented performers and I was fortunate enough to work for Bette Midler. Bette taught me what it takes to be an artist; the personal sacrifices made offstage and the joy that comes from performing onstage. After I learned how to manage artists’ careers, I represented The Manhattan Transfer and other dedicated, talented singers and musicians. My work brought me often to Manhattan. And when I came home to Hollywood, I missed hailing taxis after all-night jams, and the other thrills that come from living in the City. Driven by a need to reinvent my life, I made a giant leap of faith and left Hollywood for Manhattan with my young daughter. In time, I re-married, had a second child, and became the managing director of Gramavision Records, promoting jazz, blues, and eclectic classical recordings. When that company was sold, I thought it was time to complete my interrupted education. I enrolled in SUNY Purchase and loved so much being a student of literature that I continued my education at Sarah Lawrence College where I earned an MFA in creative writing. My thesis, “Sha La La: Live for Today,” was a memoir about growing up in Hollywood, marrying and divorcing a rock star, and becoming a single mother in need of a paycheck. My first novel, “The Pursuit of Katherine Mansfield” was conceived on an airplane coming back from France while reading several of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories and a short biography. I’d always been haunted by Mansfield’s name after I read in Virginia Woolf’s diary that Katherine was the only writer she was ever jealous of. Arriving back in New York, I spent the next three years getting to know Katherine like a sister and then writing her story. I started the first draft of my second novel, “The Drummer’s Widow,” when my husband was quite ill. I wrote out of the daily fear of what my life would be like without him. Out of which materialized the character Marisa who led me through her journey to understand a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her. “The Drummer’s Widow” will be released on May Day, 2014. A more recent leap of faith was deciding to leave Manhattan for Carmel Valley, California, where my cancer-survivor husband and I now live, except on our annual summer visits to Teyssières, southern France. Please feel free to join the conversation on my journal where I talk about summers spent in a remote village in southern France, and how that experience gave me the courage to move from Manhattan to the rural mountains above Carmel Valley, California.