Message From The Author

Sally Mandel

Genre: General Mainstream Fiction, Mainstream

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OUT OF THE BLUE is the story of Anna Bolles, a busy, athletic young woman whos suddenly stricken with multiple sclerosis. As the novel opens, shes had M.S. for five years, has moved back in with her mother, Norma, and thinks shes learned to accept the limitations
it imposes on her life. Romance is definitely not on her agenda. Then she meets Joe Malone, pilot and photographer, and both feel
an attraction so strong its like a bolt of lightening from, yes, out of the blue. Joe is immediately smitten, but Anna, though equally overwhelmed, is hesitant; shes afraid their future together will be an endless cartoon of pratfalls with Joe the beleaguered crutch.

Anna and Joes story is engrossing, moving, and, unexpectedly, very funny. Its also based in part on events in Sallys own life. Though Sally never had M.S., she did go through a bout of traumatic arthritis that lead to a double hip replacement. After the operation, Sally used a walker for 12 weeks, then crutches, and a cane. She felt, as Anna sometimes does, in mourning for her formerly active life. Happily, Sallys now completely recovered, but the experience opened her eyes to all the invisible people with wheelchairs or canes, and what its like to navigate Manhattan with a disability.

A year previously, Sally met a young woman with M.S. who, despite being in a wheelchair, made a trip to Club Med in the Bahamas, enjoying herself immensely. This woman eventually inspired Anna. Though she was cautioned against creating a heroine with M.S., for fear that it would be a downer, Sally felt that if I got inside her head, I could do it. And she did. Annasarcastic, witty, clear-eyed, and never self-pityingis definitely someone that readers will enjoy spending time with.

Sallys success certainly hasnt come out of the blue. Her first book, A Change of Heart, spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and she followed that debut with three more successful novels. She then wrote for the daytime drama The Guiding Lightwinning an Emmyand penned three screenplays, all of which are currently optioned, before returning to fiction.

Sally enjoys romance because of its emphasis on relationships and human ties. I think the most important human impulse,
she explains, is to connect with other people. And not just men and women, but also friends, colleagues, parents and childrenAnnas relationship with her wise-cracking, irrepressible mother, Norma, is another wonderful love story. Though Im writing in a domestic milieu, Sally continues, I believe that this is globally criticalmuch of whats wrong with the world evolved because
people didnt know how to connect, so they have no empathy.

Sallys next book may continue the story of Anna and Joe, or it may be about Normathere are hints in OUT OF THE BLUE
that Anna doesnt know her mothers whole story. Whatever Sally chooses to write next, you can be sure it will be engrossing, entertaining, and full of the joy that comes from connecting with others.

OUT OF THE BLUE was a top pick in last months issue. Sally loves hearing from readers. Write to her c/o Ballantine Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.

Excerpt from OUT OF THE BLUE

I stood in front of Joes door and stared at the 8C for a while, imagining that stepping through was like opening the cover of a novel. I had the same anticipatory feeling. A new story is pretty thrilling but whats it going to cost me? How scared will I be? Will I cry? Will I like the ending?

The door swung open and Joe pulled me into the room and into his arms. He held me for a long moment. No kiss, but I wasnt ready for that yet. My legs felt wobbly as it was. The place smelled truly awful, like when I was nine and set my hair on fire toasting marshmallows over the stove.

I just burned the hors doeuvres, Joe said.He took my hand and led me to the couch. There was a plate of cheese and crackers on the coffee table and two goblets of red wine. He sat down so close that our knees were nudging one another. It made me dizzy that I could be so stirred up by somebody, and I was afraid my leg was going to start bobbing up and down, like a dogs when you scratch its belly.

I stood and went to the window. You shouldnt have fussed, I said. You just got off a plane. The unprepossessing view of the building next door calmed me down a little.
But then he was behind me.

I felt like doing something for you, he said. Then he took my glass and set it on the windowsill. He leaned down and gave me a long lingering kiss. Then another. Then
I reached up and put my arms around his neck. Our mouths opened against one another and his hands reached behind to pull my hips against him. If he hadnt been holding me, I would have sunk straight to the floor. I stepped back a few inches and took a breath. Then we grinned at one another, big toothey smiles of complicity as if wed done something to gloat about.

Come, he said, and drew me into the kitchen. On the counter was a cookie sheet dotted with lumps of ash. He ignored it, and all one-handed, opened the refrigerator and slid a dish with something resembling lasagne into
the microwave. He had me in a death grip.

Wouldnt it be easier if

No, you might get away, he said matter-of-factly.

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