2013 Club: Helen Wan's The Partner Track

The Partner Track by Helen WanOur guest today: Helen Wan Why we love her: Her debut is pure deliciousness!

Her debut: The Partner Track

The Scoop: A young attorney must choose between the prestige of partnership and  the American Dream that she—and her immigrant parents—have come so close to achieving in The Partner Track, a riveting debut from Helen Wan

In the eyes of her corporate law firm, Ingrid Yung is a “two-fer.” As a Chinese-American woman about to be ushered into the elite rank of partner, she’s the face of Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP’s recruiting brochures--their treasured "Golden Girl." But behind the firm’s welcoming façade lies the scotch-sipping, cigar-smoking old-boy network that shuts out lawyers like Ingrid. To compensate, Ingrid gamely plays in the softball league, schmoozes in the corporate cafeteria, and puts in the billable hours—until a horrifically offensive performance at the law firm’s annual summer outing throws the carefully constructed image way out of equilibrium.

Scrambling to do damage control, Parsons Valentine announces a new “Diversity Initiative” and commands a reluctant Ingrid to spearhead the effort, taking her priority away from the enormous deal that was to be the final step in securing partnership. For the first time, Ingrid finds herself at odds with her colleagues—including her handsome, golden-boy boyfriend—in a clash of class, race, and sexual politics.

Our thoughts: WE LOVED it--fun and engaging.  Highly recommend!

Giveaway: TWO copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winner after 8am on September 15th.

Fun Fact: Much like the heroine in her novel, Helen is an attorney that started out in a big Manhattan law firm.  Hmmmm....

Where to read more about Helen: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


HelenWanDO’s: 3 things every aspiring novelist SHOULD do

 Write the novel you’ve always wanted to be able to walk into a bookstore and find.

Read. Voraciously. Anything and everything.  Like a person who’s just been rescued from a desert island.

Buy a slim little sketchbook and carry it around with you every day.  It’s amazing how many interesting people you’ll start to see and snippets of conversation you’ll overhear that are worth jotting down.

DON’Ts: 3 things every aspiring novelist SHOULDN’T do

Don’t edit each page to death before moving on to the next.  Oh, how much time and hand-wringing I could have saved myself had I realized this sooner!  There’ll be time for revising and polishing later – I find the best way to get through a first draft is quickly, in almost stream-of-consciousness style.

Don’t wait for the “ideal time” to write – for the baby to be asleep, for the house to be quiet, for all the life stuff to be done – the right time to jot down the idea or turn of phrase that’s been running through your head is just as soon as you can.

Don’t go it alone.  Showing your work -- once you’ve gotten it to a reasonably developed, comfortable place – to a small, trusted circle of writer or reader friends is key.  And then listen carefully to what they’re telling you.


Song you listened to on repeat?  “L.E.S. Artistes” by Santigold.

Book you read?  INTO THE WOODS, by Tana French.  Wow.  She’s so talented it’s almost annoying to other writers.

Time you laughed?  About 5 minutes ago, when a guy walked into the coffee shop where I’m writing this with one of the Top Five fluffiest, cutest dogs I’ve ever seen.  He looked like Chewbacca.  Everyone here was totally charmed.


Way to celebrate a book deal?  Collecting all of the rejection letters you’ve ever gotten and making a big bonfire.  I didn’t get to do this, because all of my many rejections were e-mails, but I imagine that’d be one satisfying wienie roast.

Trick to overcome Writer’s Block?  Oh, I really wish I knew the answer to this one!  I suffer all the time from Writer’s Block.  The only way I know to deal with it is simply keep writing until there’s finally a glimmer of a paragraph you know is worth saving.

Way to think of a book idea? Again, if I knew the answer to this, I’d bottle and sell it.  But I do think part of it goes back to writing the book you wish you could walk into a bookstore and find.  I like to go into my local independent bookstore and just troll the fiction shelves.  What are the titles that grab me?  The cover images that set my imagination running?  But also, importantly, what stories are missing?  I think noticing the kind of stories that aren’t getting published is just as important – maybe even more important – than seeing what is.


Show you’ll DVR:  That’s easy.  Game of Thrones Season 4.  Hard to see how they’ll top the “Red Wedding” episode!  Also, Downton Abbey Season 4.  Despite last season’s shocker.  Sigh.  They just don’t make ‘em like that Matthew Crawley anymore.

Book you’ll read:  Oh, I always have about a dozen books piled haphazardly next to my bed.  The current stack includes SISTERLAND by Curtis Sittenfeld, BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter, WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple, and LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson.

Book you’ll write:  I’m still sort of figuring that out myself.  But it involves the inner dynamics of a group of very diverse people who find themselves thrown together for a very specific reason.  I find group dynamics endlessly fascinating.  And I love a good underdog story!

Thanks, Helen!