Suzanne Mattaboni’s Debut Novel, Once in a Lifetime, Serves Up Girl-Power Self Discovery, Retro Style

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The ability to create magic out of the mundane is a gift, usually wielded by those whose passion for their craft keeps them alive. This is certainly the case for long-time writer and debut novelist Suzanne Mattaboni, who has always been passionate about building a narrative that compels people, whether that’s to empathize with a character, take on a cause, or realize the benefits of a new technology solution. After years of hard work, grit, and determination, this go-getter and former corporate writer has poured both the excitement and the anxiety of the ‘80s into her upcoming coming-of-age piece, Once in a Lifetime, from TouchPoint Press.

Widely regarded for her work in short-form fiction across both adult and children’s genres, Suzanne Mattaboni has gained recognition not only for her talent for the written word, but also for her tenacious spirit. Although she’s been publishing creative material on a national scale since her teens, she’s emerged as a highly empowered woman who has made her mark in the male-dominated industry of high-tech corporate communications. Fiction writing continued to call her back, proving that anything is possible for those who believe in their own capabilities and aren’t afraid to work harder than the next guy–or woman. 

Originally from New York, Suzanne Mattaboni dabbled in journalism at publications like Newsday, where she was a “FutureCorps” community service reporter. She contributed to lifestyle magazines like LA Parent, Long Island Weddings, and Child, not to mention hundreds of pieces for technology trade journals. She’s more recently been on the receiving end of accolades as a Pushcart Prize-nominated fiction writer, blogger, essayist, retro podcaster, and corporate consultant. Her works have appeared in publications as varied as The Huffington Post and Seventeen; national inspirational venues like Mysterious Ways, Guideposts, and Chicken Soup for the Soul; and edgy horror serials like Dark Dossier and The Little Demon Digest.

Although Mattaboni is known as a multifaceted figure, she is mainly regarded for her storytelling. She excels in creating insightful, lively fiction, producing women’s fiction, horror, young adult, and middle-grade works. In addition, her work has appeared in eclectic anthologies like Pizza Parties and Poltergeist, The Running Wild Anthology of Stories, and What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Relationship Like This?, a collection of pieces by women in dysfunctional relationships that was a featured text in women studies courses.

In Once in a Lifetime, Suzanne Mattaboni again showcases her writing prowess through humorous and quirky prose, following the antics of overly ambitious art student (and wayward, temporary waitress) Jessica Addentro as she and her band of avant-garde roommates navigate the new wave-charged summer of 1984. As she desperately works to kick-start her romantic and artistic life outside the boundaries of her college dorms, she deals with everything from mystical bosses, gritty punk concerts, a drag queen buddy with military training, livid restaurant patrons—and a gorgeous bass guitarist who climbs through her window and makes her head spin like a record. This new romantic tryst makes her feel she’s coming closer to that elusive, exciting life of music, creative potency, and near-fame she’s convinced she’s destined for—or when the dust clears, it could just present another barrier between her and her goals.

“I want people to have a great time with this novel. It’s a summer book, a beach read even, but a little more complicated than a typical, outright romance piece. There is guy-chasing in the story, but it keeps its focus on female friendships, and on how the new-found ambitions of girls in the ‘80s almost worked against them in their relationships,” the writer said. 

“The main character needs to decide where her loyalties lie, and what’s going to get her to her goal of affording an awesome mosaic glass art program overseas in England that she’s got her heart set on. She needs to learn that if she’s going to commit to anything, it has to be to herself. But it’s a long road to get to that point,” Mattaboni explained. “I want people to remember that moment of decision in their lives when they read this, and if they haven’t reached that epiphany yet, I want the lightbulb to go off.”

A smart and entertaining read, the writing shines with engaging imagery and insights about the nature of creativity. The book will hold special appeal to those who remember the fanfare and musical flair of this decade. However, Mattaboni stays true to her own solid feminist roots, considering the piece is being billed as a romantic comedy that’s not all about the guy. It rather keeps the emphasis on a set of core female relationships that make this story stand up and come to life. However imperfect the young women in this novel are, and as much as they falter in trying to push their lives forward, they are staggeringly devoted to supporting one another.

In the coming years, Suzanne Mattaboni envisions herself as a top-selling author, mentoring aspiring writers and becoming a speaker at conferences and events, like the upcoming Pennwriters’ Conference in May. With no plans of slowing down anytime soon, she hopes to use that passion to ignite a fire in her readers and audiences. 

Opinions expressed by Los Angeles Wire contributors are their own.

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