Nita Prose is not your typical first novelist. As Vice President and Publishing Director of Simon & Schuster in Toronto, she worked with successful authors like Paula Hawkins, Ruth Ware and Gretchin Rubin, and guided countless writers through the publishing process. . But navigating the world of publishing with her own debut novel — The Maid, now out with HarperCollins — was a different experience.
“It really made me realize how vulnerable you are as a writer,” she says, speaking from her bright Toronto home office. She apologizes for the occasional barking of her “arrogant pug” in the background (sadly said pug doesn’t appear during our conversation).
What future for Prose? First, she’s excited for the upcoming screen adaptation of The Maid, starring Florence Pugh as Molly. In particular, she looks forward to seeing the opulence of the Regency Grand represented on screen. The novel’s hotel setting is almost a character unto itself, with a facade of elegance, sophistication, and glamor — and darker secrets behind closed doors. There is also a top-down aspect, with hotel workers living in much more humble conditions than hotel guests.
“There is an illusion for guests,” observes Prose, “an illusion that we all buy into. And yet, there are all these service workers who maintain that illusion.”
With a bestseller, I ask her if she’ll take a step back from her editorial responsibilities to focus on her writing. Not necessarily — for Prose, writing and editing are “two halves of a whole.” Her priority is to keep doing the job she loves, which is “telling stories or helping people tell stories.” That’s all I can do,” she laughs.