When Aggie Blum Thompson first heard about the local high school tradition of Beach Week, she thought it would be the perfect backdrop for a thriller. Originally from New York and now a resident of Bethesda, Thompson chose Dewey Beach in Delaware for the setting of her latest novel, All the Dirty Secrets (Forge Books, July 2022). The story alternates between the voice of a mother, Liza, and her daughter, Zoe, each of whom had a friend who drowned during Beach Week, 25 years apart. “It’s about freedom, secrets, privilege and the length parents will go to protect their children,” says Thompson, a former newspaper reporter and the mother of two teens. She hopes the book, loaded with D.C.-area references, will hook readers: “I want it to be a page-turner where you burn your food and lose sleep.”
Betsy Griffith says material she’s been collecting throughout her professional life as a historian, teacher and writer appears in Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality: 1920-2020 (Pegasus Books, August 2022). Her book spans the certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, with particular attention paid to the role of Black women in the struggle, which she says has often been overlooked. “This fight had lots of warriors—a really diverse army of women,” says Griffith, who lives in Chevy Chase and earned her doctorate at American University. “This struggle isn’t over. I hope [the book] inspires people to remain engaged and outraged and angry.”
Hena Khan says her most recent book series aimed at ages 7-10 is based on the Fox Hills West neighborhood in Rockville where she grew up. Kids often played games outdoors just like her main character in Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun (Salaam Reads, April 2022). The story includes interfaith elements as Zara, a young Muslim girl, develops a rivalry with Naomi, the Jewish girl who moves in across the street; they end up becoming best friends. “I like that these are real kid-centric challenges, but with a very playful and antics-filled read,” says Khan, who lives in Rockville and says it’s refreshing to write for this age group. The next installment, Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure, will be released in October, and a third is slated for next spring.
“If we can do it, you know, anyone can do it,” Jamie Ratner says of starting a company with her husband, Brian, when their kids were toddlers. Without a traditional business background, the Potomac couple launched a website offering family-friendly deals on camps and classes in 2009 that has grown into CertifiKID, a national digital media and advertising business. The two share what it was like to appear on the television show Shark Tank, how they run a business as spouses, and what they learned along the way in ParentPreneurs: A Decade of Deals from a Messy Minivan (Rowman & Littlefield, August 2022). “[The business] gave us such a common purpose,” Brian Ratner says. “You work in ways together in partnership in business that we would never have had the opportunity to do in our marriage.”
This story appears in the September/October 2022 issue of Bethesda Magazine.