AN INTERVIEW WITH REYNA MARDER GENTIN, by Linda’s Book Obsession for Suzy Approved Book Tours
An Interview With Reyna Marder Gentin, Author of “Unreasonable Doubts” with Lindas Book Obsession for @Suzy Approved Book Tours
- What was your motivation in becoming an author and writer? What did you do before you were a writer?
I practiced as a public interest attorney for many years before I ever tried writing creatively. I worked as a public defender representing poor people appealing their criminal convictions for all sorts of serious felonies, from murder to rape to burglary, robbery, drug dealing and everything in between. I always felt that there were huge parts of the story that I was missing — and writing fiction allowed me to explore the back stories of why people make the choices they do to commit crimes and step out of society’s rules and expectations.
- What motivated or inspired you to write?
When I left the paid practice of law (I still volunteer on a weekly basis in Family Court in a domestic violence clinic), I was not sure what the next phase of my life would look like. I tried a number of things that I thought would be interesting — I took piano lessons, I went to yoga class, I figured out my volunteer gig. Pretty early on, a friend convinced me to take a memoir writing class with her at Sarah Lawrence College. I loved the writing, and have taken classes there ever since, now almost five years, in all different genres.
- How did you go about researching for your book?
My novel is contemporary fiction, a romantic legal thriller set in New York City and revolves around a law office inspired by the one in which I worked for nearly 18 years. I had some research to do, to make sure the legal aspects of the plot were 100% accurate, as well as various other subplots, including some history of the New York Mets. But my book is based on areas of life and law that I understood and new very deeply and personally.
- What are your goals for readers to take away after reading?
Unreasonable Doubts is very much a coming of age story. Liana Cohen is trying to figure out her priorities in life and in her relationships, and I want readers to come away with the idea that for all of us, this is a process. It isn’t always easy learning whom you can trust, or what real love looks like — sometimes you really have to hit rock bottom to resurface in a stronger, more complete way. But the most important part is to keep looking for the good, the redemptive, in yourself and in the people you encounter.
- What is a typical day of your life?
I get up early, at about 6:30. Usually, I have to repeatedly yell for my teenage son to get up, as he needs to leave for school at 7:15. Sometimes I exercise, sometimes I just eat! During the day, I try to write – there are days when I am inspired and really get something done, and there are days when I spend a lot of time surfing the internet. Over the last six months, I have had a lot of events promoting Unreasonable Doubts — which also includes dressing up and getting my blown out, and doing a lot more driving than I am used to doing. Generally, I make dinner, my husband and I watch something before going to bed (we are currently watching Shtisel) and I am totally unconscious by around 10 p.m.
- What are your hobbies or things you do in your downtime?
I like to cook and bake, all while listening to lite FM very loudly on my Alexa and worrying that she’s listening to my phone conversations. I like to take long walks, but I’m also a big fan of the afternoon nap. I make a lot of lists, and sometimes get things done and sometimes not.
- What can you tell us of any new writing projects that you might have?
I have written a middle-grade novel called MY NAME IS LAYLA, which I am currently sending around to agents. I am also working on some shorter pieces. I am about 90 pages into a new contemporary novel called BOTH ARE TRUE. I love the two main characters, and I’m reasonably confident that soon their story will appear more clearly to me!
- What are your favorite genres of books that you like to read?
I read almost exclusively fiction and mostly contemporary — or historical fiction that isn’t all that heavily historical. I have also been reading more local authors, women that I have met through the experience of writing my own book, including Susie Schnall’s Subway Girls, Linda Loigman’s Wartime Sisters, Heather Frimmer’s Bedside Manners, Lea Geller’s Trophy Life, Maralyn Simon’s Husbands, and Other Sharp Objects.
9 What advice can you give to someone that wants to be a writer?
I think two things were and continue to be key for me. Get into a writing community/workshop. As solitary as writing may seem, it works best a group effort. And just sit down and get something on the page. You can fix it later. Don’t be intimidated. Start small — a personal essay, a short memoir piece, a short story. Don’t start with a novel and then quit when you can’t complete it straight off.
- If your book were adapted to the screen, what actors, actresses could you envision for the main characters?
Although I absolutely love the idea of Unreasonable Doubts being made into a movie, I don’t see a lot of movies and I never know which actress is which — especially not ones young enough to play the characters here credibly. Linda, can you answer this question for me??
- How would you like the readers to connect with you?
There are a few ways readers can connect. First, if you enjoy the book, please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads or Bookbub — that will help me enormously to reach other readers. If you’d like to connect more directly, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.