I really perked up when the conversation turned to the notion of likability. Who says we have to like a character? Yet Franzen claims that "the safest thing" in writing fiction is not caring what the reader wants, in the sense of realizing, "Not everyone will like this guy."
We first met Melissa Cistaro when she pitched her book to us at a Pitchapalooza we did for Book Passage (one of America's great bookstores) in Corte Madera, California. We've been doing this so long we can usually tell when someone has a book in them and is capable of getting it out successfully.