Q&A: Author, professor and soon-to-be professional clown Sally Franson

Months after the release of her first novel, “A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out,” Sally Franson is nowhere near slowing down.

Maraya King

Sally Franson sauntered into Studio 2, a coffee and wine bar she says is her “home away from home,” Friday afternoon to fill A&E in on what she’s been up to since the release of her first novel. 

“A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out” first filled the shelves of Barnes and Noble, Magers and Quinn and bookstores all over the country in April.

Since then, the University of Minnesota alum hasfilled her time with activities that you might expect, such as reading and writing, and some you wouldn’t, like clown college. 

What is coming up next for Sally Franson? 

Um, well I’m going to clown college at the end of this month, getting a dog in August and I start teaching creative writing at Macalester College in the fall. 

Did you say clown college? 

Yes, I am going to an authentic clown school in northern Minnesota and writing a piece on it for [Mpls.St.Paul Magazine]. I have always wanted to go and somehow convinced them to let me do it as a freelance project. My alter ego is Shelby the Clown, I’ve already decided. When I told one of my best friends I was going she had to ask me if it was for work or self-enhancement.

Have you been recognized since your book came out? 

Ha! Actually I did get recognized once … but it was by someone who I had already met a few times before.

Have you been traveling since the release? 

Yes. I’ve been doing events all over the Twin Cities, New York City, I just got back from Madison, Wisconsin, which is where I’m from, and next week I am doing an event in San Francisco. This self-promoting thing is so new to me. I’m not a [public relations] person, so it’s just me at my computer typing like, “Hey everybody — have you seen this great article?”

Are you done with Casey [the main character in your first novel]?

Well, I can’t say for sure … and you can write that I slyly winked when I answered. But in this form, yes.

Any traveling for you? Or is it all for the book? 

I went to Italy at the end of May to “eat, pray, love.” I drank a lot — it was very frivolous. Then I went to Ireland for five weeks because I had been accepted into an intensive writing program called Cill Rialaig. 

What is the Cill Rialaig program?

No one has ever heard of it here, but apparently it’s quite a thing in Ireland. It’s [an isolated] cottage where artists go to work — about six or seven people at a time. It’s cliffside, like on the very edge, so you look out onto the open sea. It was incredibly wild, sheep roaming everywhere like an Irish postcard … but be careful where you stand or you’ll fall into the ocean. 

Were you working on a new book there? 

Yes, I was working on my next book. I’m not going to tell you a lot, but it’s about six women who work in and around the technology industry in San Francisco. 

Why choose San Francisco as the setting?

My brother lives there. He’s an engineer and I’m really interested in the work he does because I don’t understand it, so naturally I have to write about it. To be a writer right now and not be writing about technology feels like a disservice; it’s the thing that is changing the architecture of our world. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Hopefully making a living from my art, that’s the dream. Oh, and I hope I have a lot of shoes. That’s the dream too.