Interviewing Sally Koslow, Author, Author of “Another Side of Paradise” by Linda’s Book Obsession, Part of Suzy Approved Book Tours
1. What was your motivation in becoming an author and what did you do before you were a writer?
Before I was a writer I was…. a kid. Since childhood I’ve ping-ponged between writing and editing—high school newspaper editor; obit writer as a part-time job in college and intern for my hometown Fargo, North Dakota, newspaper; after graduation, staff writer at Mademoiselle where in college I won an award for poetry; editor-in-chief of various magazines—i.e., McCall’s;and author of 100+ (who’s counting?) articles for newspapers and magazines—many of which have evaporated: Glamour, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal…and now, websites.
My bandwidth is solidly in writing-editing terrain though being an editor-in-chief of a magazine required business smarts. I got to fiction late. During a work hiatus, I joined a writing workshop, and started to write a “novel.” I never referred to myself as a “novelist” ‘til my completed manuscript—which took two years—sold. This was Little PinkSlips, about an editor whose magazine is taken over by a wacko celebrity.
As Nora Ephron’s mom famously said, “all of life is material.” Did I mention that Rosie O’Donnell replaced me at McCall’s?
2. What motivated or inspired you to write?
My early role model was Lois Lane because I knew a few working women when I grew up. It was teachers who reinforced any writing ability I had. At the end of 9thgrade, my English and speech teacher gave me a copy of Dorothy Parker’s poetry. Talk about motivation. But it took many years—and severance–for me to take the road-not-taken of trying to write fiction because I’m pragmatic, Midwesterner at heart, despite having become a New Yorker, and writing fiction is not exactly dependable. Writing my first (well-received) novel propelled me to do another. Another Side of Paradise is my fifth novel and sixth book because I sandwiched in a non-fiction work: Slouching Toward Adulthood, which reported on young people who stretch out the not-settling-down part of life.
3. How did you go about researching Another Side of Paradise?
I read until my eyeballs were at risk of falling out. There was an endless paper trail on F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sheilah Graham took more digging beyond inhaling her many memoirs–exploring the history of Jews and anti-Semitism in early 20thcentury England, for example. I also visited Scott and Sheila’s Hollywood haunts that still exist, including her apartment where Scott died.
4. What are your goals for readers to take away after reading?
I hope my novels let readers unwind and escape with characters who feel real and possibly relatable. I’ve been fortunate to have “witty” applied to my writing, so if observations or turns of phrases make readers smile, yay. If people learn a thing or two about another time period or culture, even better.
5. What is a typical day of your life?
I plant myself at my laptop by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and putz around on social media, email, online newspapers, and other delightful procrastination until around 8:30 a.m., when I force myself to write/rewrite. Mornings are my best time to compose new work, though I can rewrite at any time. I often take a break for a barre or Pilates class in the ‘hood. Some days I meet a friend (now often another writer) for coffee or lunch, so I don’t feel pathetically isolated, but by 3-ish I’m back at the computer. My husband and I are empty nesters and I usually make dinner for us, after which, he starts in with news shows. Often, we watch one episode of a TV series, frequently something foreign–“Shtisel” and “A French Village” were recent favorites. I like to start reading a book by 9:00. I HAVE to be into a book. I’m in two book clubs, so I keep up with those selections plus whatever I choose for pure pleasure.
6. What are your hobbies or things you do in your downtime?
Last year I started to take a painting class. something I’d never tried. Love it, even if I’m no Mary Cassatt. I’ve been doing portraits of my family. Painting exercises the visual part of my brain and requires deep concentration, yet manages to be fun.
7. What can you tell us of any new writing projects that you might have? I’m finishing a contemporary, upside-down mystery that starts with a possible murder and flashes back…the tone is a bit sardonic. After that, I have a family saga in mind.
8. What are your favorite genres of books that you like to read
?Literary fiction with a soft spot for droll, female English authors; a memoir, biographies of complex women, historical fiction—especially biographical novels; family sagas; and classics.
9. What advice can you give to someone that wants to be a writer?
· Read “good” books and take time to savor the language. Don’t worry about unintentionally mimicking an author. Hope that excellent work infects your own.
· Write what appeals to you, not what’s trendy. Try to avoid being derivative.
· Good writing is endless rewriting. Don’t rush. Look for unintentional word echoes. Keep improving your manuscript until you can’t stand to see it one more time.
10. If your book were adapted to the screen, what actors, actresses could you envision for the main characters?
Sheilah Graham was hot, so perhaps Scarlett Johannsson or Jennifer Lawrence using an English accent. Scott Fitzgerald was a handsome charmer with blonde hair and sharp humor, so maybe Jude Law or Ryan Gosling. Brad Pitt in his younger days. Robert Redford in his way-younger days.
11. How would you like the readers to connect with you?—through my website: http://sallykoslow.com/contact/