Susan Isaacs is almost 37, has two children and a husband she adores, a new kitchen and two novels that have been published and are providing "loads and loads" of royalties.
She is, she concedes, very lucky.
Sometimes it just happens. Someone like Isaacs, looking for something to do in addition to housewifing but not wanting to go back to work fulltime, decides to write a novel, reads a book called "Writing a Novel," follows the directions, produces the book, gives it to a friend who is an editor at a publishing firm, he loves it and sends it to an agent who sells it. And then the Book of the Month club wants it, and the paperback rights sell, and the dramatic rights, and the book -- the first fiction she ever wrote -- is translated into 14 languages.
She won't say how much money she's made, but it's enough to send Andrew, 10, and Betsy, 7, to college and "graduate school, post-doctoral work whatever they want."
The first book was called "Compromising Positions," and it was a mystery set on Long Island in which a suburban housewife helps solve the murder of a periodonist. "I wanted to make the victim somebody who deserves to die," she said. "My first choice was a manufacturer of non-dairy creamer."
The second book, recently published, is "close Relations." The heroine is a 35-year-old New York speechwriter who lives with the handsomest man in town but doesn't get married until she meets the most perfect man in town. It's a quick, easy read that has received generally favorable reviews.
"Leo Tolstoy is not turning over in his grave worrying about his literary reputation," she said. "But I think I'm a good writer and I take it very seriously."
Issacs, a large, friendly woman with long dark hair, grew up in Brooklyn and Queens in a world in which she most likely should have been a "psychiatric social worker or a junior high school teacher. . . Being a novelist is not a lower-middle-class aspiration." After graduating from Queens College, she spent four years at Seventeen magazine answering mail, editing features and writing a monthly column on such topics as "How to Write a Letter to a Boy." (Answer: Relax and Be Yourself.)
She left when she had her first child and, taking advantage of the fact that her lawyer husband could support them, stayed home to raise her children.
"I cannot see the point of having kids and going off to work, handing them off to a stranger so they end up being brought up by someone from a foreign culture," she said. "Why have children?"
But by 1975 she wanted something else to do, her own identity and all that, and "if I'd had choose I would have gone back to work." Fortunately, she didn't have to choose, her husband was willing to continue being sole breadwinner while she spent 13 months writing her first book, and now "I really have an ideal situation."
They converted the laundry room into an office for her. She hasn't started her third book yet, but is working on a screenplay with her husband about a female federal prosecutor. She's quite sure they'll sell it.
Sometimes it just happens.