28 Jan 2014

Meet the fabulous author Sally Koslow

Do dreams ever inspire your writing?
Daydreams feed my writing. I’ve found that running puts me into a dream state—I once researched and wrote an article for a health magazine about this, because it’s true. Try it. The kernel of plot for my second novel, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, came to me when my mind wandered during a neighbor’s extremely long funeral. I am forever in debt to the woman who died, because the eulogies described a person so unlike the one I knew that I started riffing on how we’d all like to overhear what‘s said about us after we die, and that conceit is at the heart of this novel.

When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?
I was a child who liked to write and teachers encouraged me, which led to editing a high school newspaper and literary magazine whose title came from one of my teenage poems, Of Toadstools and Russian Olive Trees. I carried this interest through college, working on my hometown newspaper during the summers and a local newspaper in my college town. The first time I was published nationally came when I graduated from college and got my first job, at Mademoiselle Magazine—I suggested and wrote an article about a mental health field called “poetry therapy. That was in the 70s and I’ve been publishing regularly since then—loads of magazine articles and my first novel in 2007, with four more books since then.

What is it about 'chick lit' that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres?
I’ve never been sure what “chick lit” means, so I am reluctant to use the term, but I enjoy reading well-crafted contemporary fiction about women’s lives, especially if it’s spiked with humor and has an edge, and I am pleased when a review of one of my own books says it’s “witty.” I don’t set out to engage an exclusively female audience and I know men read my books as well as women. I also love reading memoir and biography, twentieth century history, and literary fiction from the 1950’s going forward. I also try to read all the authors whom Amazon says are “similar” to me.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

The Widow Waltz is a contemporary novel that explores the life of a woman named Georgia Waltz who’s left financially beached after her husband suddenly dies. In chasing their missing money, she discovers that she’s been betrayed, and as the plot moves ahead, Georgia must not only re-invent herself, but help her two daughters in their 20s do the same. she also copes with her mother’s dementia. It’s a story about growing up at any age and redefining family. It’s set in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York.

What inspired you to write it?
After many upper-middle class American women got Madoff’d, I became curious about how they remade their lives. I also wanted to invent a midlife heroine, because the women in my previous books were in their 30s, for the most part. And I wanted to write an intergenerational story with women in their early 20s, too, because I’d just finished writing Slouching Toward Adulthood, a reported work of non-fiction about this age group.

Have you ever spotted anyone reading your books anywhere?
After I published my first novel, Little Pink Slips, I was using my credit card at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the cashier recognized my name because she was reading the book. Huge thrill.

Who designs your covers?
The talented book designers employed by my publishers—Viking, Ballantine and Putnam—have created the covers, although I always get to weigh in.

If your latest book was made into a film, who would you cast?
For Georgia Waltz, Demi Moore, Helen Hunt or Michelle Pfeiffer.

What's your favourite Chick Lit book that made it to the big screen?
The first Bridget Jones movie is a classic.

What were the last two books you read?
Life List by Olivia Gentile, a biography of a woman who became obsessed with bird-watching, and Asylum, a wildly funny essay collection by Simon Doonan, one of your Brits transplanted to the States.

Name one female author who you think deserves to be better known.
About ten years ago I read two novels by an English author named Charlotte Mendelson and loved both. Since then, I’ve not seen a new book by her. I hope she hasn’t stopped writing, because I thought she was outstanding.
My favorite author is Edward St. Aubyn, who should be far more well known..

Where do you write?
At home, on my laptop at my dining room table. Or anywhere, once I’ve finished a first draft.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? And did you follow the dream?
I wanted to be Lois Lane from the Superman comics, the only journalist I knew about, and in a way, I got to see out that dream, because I joined the staff of a magazine after college.

In the movie of your life, who would play you?
Photo credit: arnold | inuyaki via photopin cc
Parker Posey.

Speed Round...Top drink to make you tipsy? Red wine
Shopaholic or shopadon't? Can’t resist a designer sample sale. The first chapter of my first novel describes getting a haul at a Chanel sale.
Sky high heels or closer to the ground? Both. In New York City, where I live, I run around in Tom’s, but at night, it’s stilettoes, which I also wore every day when I was the editor-in-chief of a big American women's magazine.
E.L. James or Jilly Cooper? Neither, sorry to say.
Cry baby or tough cookie? Tough cookie except at the end of a weepy movie or book. Damn you, JoJo Noyes.
Exotic beach or enchanted forest? I actually own a cabin in an enchanted forest. Best place in the world to write as long as my Internet works.

SALLY KOSLOW is the author of four novels: The Widow Waltz, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx (chosen by Target as a Book Pick,) With Friends like These and Little Pink Slips, inspired by her tenure as editor-in-chief of McCall’s Magazine, as well as a work of non-fiction, Slouching Toward Adulthood. Her articles and essays appear frequently in American; magazines, newspapers and online venues including The New York Times, More, Real Simple, O the Oprah Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping The Guardian and Readers’ Digest as well as the anthologies DIRT and Wedding Cake for Breakfast. She often teaches at the Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College.
Sally invites you to visit her website, www.sallykoslow.com, “like” her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SallyKoslowAuthor) and follow her on Twitter: @sallykoslow.
You can buy The Widow Waltz on Amazon http://tiny.cc/es4c5

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