Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, loving single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her perfect fiancé, she’ll secure that ‘normal’ life she craves. But she’s blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married—to Ryn, her company’s biggest investor.
In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak and ensure their success?
Wild Women Authors is pleased to introduce author Lainey Cameron and her character Ryn Brennan. Lainey’s debut novel, The Exit Strategy, a recent release out of the Wild Rose Press, takes place in Silicon Valley and is a tale of betrayal, sexism, and the power of female friendship.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Ryn? I’m married, I live in Tiburon, just north of San Francisco, and I’m a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, meaning I invest in startup companies for a living. Normally I’m razor sharp, but right now, in the opening pages, I’m in the office and cannot focus. Yesterday I found out after ten years, that my husband is cheating on me, and I haven’t even confronted him. I don’t yet know if my marriage is over.
What made you choose venture capital for a profession? I’ve always been great with numbers. After I left Montana and earned my finance degree, I wanted to be part of where the real power brokers of the future reside: Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered the climate is a lot more sexist than I expected, and although I worked my ass off to get this far, it’s taken me twice as long to achieve the senior level than if I were a man.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you stick with being a venture capitalist or do something different? I’d stick with it, because although it’s been tough, this week I’m about to close the deal that will make my career and catapult me into senior partnership. I’m expecting to become one of the top VCs in the Valley and prove to everyone how a woman can be just as valuable as any member of the “old boy’s club”.
What is your biggest fear? I’ve bet my career on this one deal, so I can’t afford to blow it. I had no idea, before I entered the room to sign the papers, that I’d be facing my husband Todd’s mistress, Carly Santos, across the negotiating table. How the heck are we supposed to work together? But neither of us can just walk away when our success now depends on each other.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? I’m rather partial to Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, because somehow she acts feminine, says what she thinks, and is still taken seriously and wins by the end. I cannot imagine that in my world.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? My first venture boss advised me “never volunteer to make coffee” and “be sure not to let your personal and professional lives overlap”. I’ve always believed in that last advice about keeping my personal life separate, but I cannot imagine how I will follow it now, when I’ve invested in Carly’s company while she’s sleeping with my husband.
Ryn, it's been a real pleasure to meet you and speak with you. It comes as a huge relief to know there are characters like you—hopefully in real life—out there You give us old dames who grew up in the 60's hope for our daughters and grand-daughters. Now we'd like to chat with Lainey.
What shows or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? I have to credit Terry Pratchett (now deceased) for making me an avid reader and bookworm in my childhood. I remember being absorbed into his fictional worlds including tearing through the entire Discworld series. A part of me may still secretly believe our world is riding through space on the back of a giant turtle.
Television wise, I’m a big fan of Shonda Rhimes storytelling. I admire her skills with the tension and drama she creates in a series like Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. She makes us care deeply about imperfect characters.
Relative to my debut novel, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty was the book that first inspired me to think “Maybe I, too, could write that type of story?”
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? I started with an image of one scene: a wife picking up the phone and calling her husband’s mistress. From there, I asked myself: what if their interaction didn’t end with that phone call, but they had to work together? The stereotypes would say these two women would become their own worst enemies, fighting over the guy who dumped them into the situation. But I don’t believe in those stereotypes.
The question I wanted to pose is what would it take for us as women, when plunged into that dilemma, to rise above it and still work collaboratively?
Tell us a bit about your publisher. How did you hear about them; what influenced you to submit to them; how is the submission process; what is the turn-around time from date of query to date of release? After deciding to look for a smaller independent publisher, I applied to six houses who had an excellent reputation for working with women’s fiction authors, and I received several offers. I talked to writers at each publisher and selected The Wild Rose Press, because their authors were consistent in sharing how easy they were to work with. From when I first applied to when I received a contract took three and a half months, followed by several months of editing.
Prior to deciding on the small publisher path, I heard a lot of agents tell me there was no market for women’s fiction set in the workplace. Based on the early reviews which are calling this book a ‘unputdownable’ ‘a page-turner’ and ‘uplifting’, I’m glad I decided not to listen and to find another option to get this book into readers’ hands. So far, I’ve been thrilled with my collaboration with The Wild Rose Press, including both editing and marketing.
What are you reading right now? This year I’ve focused on reading the best of the 2020 debut novels, in part because I’m hosting an Instagram TV show called The Best of Women’s Fiction, where I interview authors of new books I’m excited about.
I read and loved You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer, The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Verant, and Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters by Anita Kushwaha. I’m also trying to extend my reading into other cultures and backgrounds and just finished Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa, first Kurdish female novelist writing in English and I’m excited to read The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, set in Vietnam. Currently, I’m deeply absorbed in The Talking Drum by Lisa Braxton, which has such a skillfully written narrative.
What's next for you? I’m working on the first draft of a new project which draws inspiration from my life as a digital nomad since becoming a writer, picking locations to live and work for six months at a time.
Along with that, I’ve been working on various marketing activities for The Exit Strategy and I’m excited by the chance to talk with readers and book clubs. Please contact me if you’d like to invite me to yours!
To learn more about Lainey Cameron, go to:
Resources for book clubs: http://laineycameron.com/the-exit-strategy/bookclubs
To purchase The Exit Strategy, go to:
Bookshop.org (profits go to indie booksellers)
Indiebound (order through local bookstore)