Saralee Rosenberg is the author of four comic novels from AvonBooks(HarperCollins) including A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIRE VOYANT, FATE AND MS. FORTUNE and her latest release, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. She and her husband live on Long Island and have three children and a big mortgage.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
My newest novel, Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead, is a hilarious, heart-stopping romp over fences and defenses that begs the question, what did you do to deserve living next door to a crazy woman? Sometimes it’s worth finding out. Here is the story:
In Mindy Sherman’s yoga-obsessed, thirty-is-the-new-wife neighborhood, every day is a battle between Dunkin’ Donuts, her jaws-of-life-jeans and Beth Diamond, the self-absorbed sancti-mommy next door who looks sixteen from the back. So much for sharing the chores, the stores and the occasional mischief to rival Wisteria Lane.
It’s another day, another dilemma until Beth’s marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Suddenly the Ivy League blonde needs to be “friended” and Mindy is the last mom standing. Together they take on hormones and hunger, family feuds and fidelity and a harrowing journey that spills the truth about an unplanned pregnancy and a sixty-year old miracle that altered their fates forever.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
All of my novels explore fate and destiny in some way, so it is probably no coincidence that my writing career began serendipitously. The only thing I was writing were grocery lists when my husband told me that he had recommended me to a client whose new publishing firm was trying to create a series of books about relocation. To which I said, “Are you out of your mind? I don’t know how to write a book, and what do I know about people moving from New York to Florida?” I was really annoyed, but when the opportunity became reality, I took a shot. Nine books later I can honestly say that it was kismet. The inner-writer in me was there all along. I just needed someone to scare it out of me.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
When I am under contract to write a new book, it’s an all day, every day affair. I take breaks to do my 3-mile jog, juggle family responsibilities, and check in on Facebook so people know that I’m still breathing. But essentially, the story becomes my entire focus and I think about my characters when I’m in the shower, at the supermarket- they follow me. When my kids were younger they could tell how well the writing was going by the mess on my floor. If they walked in and my desk was all neat and tidy, it was a good day. But if they basically had to skate over on all the paper and debris, it was enter at your own risk… unless they were there to give me a hug and a brownie.
4. Describe your workspace.
I never intended for my master bedroom to become my office, but the view was too great to pass up and the commute couldn’t be beat. I could be at my desk in ten seconds if inspiration struck. The downside, of course, is that there are days when it is my private sanctuary, and other times when it feels like Grand Central Station. The kids walk in with their friends, plop themselves down and suddenly my room is a hang out. The good news is that I have picked up some great dialogue listening to them speak. Shhhh. Don’t tell.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
I’ve always been a big fan of Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions for Writing and Life (wish I’d written it) and William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting (though published in 1973, it remains a relevant, eye opening look at storytelling). As for my favorite novelists, I love Irwin Shaw, Sol Stein and Elinore Lipman.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
Only three? 1) I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to a model. God apparently missed that memo. 2). I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. I’m not quite a customer as much as an annuity. Every year I am a guaranteed source of income for them. 3) Years ago I was a guest on Oprah for my book, 50 Fabulous Places to Raise A Family. The experience was life changing. She was wonderful and Steadman was there too. He smelled so nice. Bonus: ) I love writing novels and even though there is pain involved, just like giving birth, I forget and do it again!
7. Favorite quote
This gem is my father’s: “Confidence is that feeling you have, right before you understand the problem.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The best part is hearing praise from readers, whether it’s in the form of a review, an email, a personal meeting. When I learn that they laughed and cried through my books or that they couldn’t put them down, I want to buy them lunch. I also love walking into a bookstore or library and seeing copies of my books on display. What a high! The worst part is dealing with the rejection and the negative reviews, although this has never happened to me (NOT!). The work is so personal and requires every ounce of your being to get it right, it seems unimaginable that someone is going to knock it. But oh boy, can people dish it out. Eventually you remove the stingers and focus on the positive feedback. Either that or you open a bottle of red.
9. Advice for other writers
The best writers are also the best readers. Read everything and think about the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Discuss books with others, take workshops, and by all means, keep at it. I heard the comedian Carole Leifer say that in order to be an amazing comic, first you have to suck at it. Same is true with being an author. You have to hone your craft for years before you can honestly say that the writing is solid and worthy of publication.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
When Dear Neighbor came out, I ran to my local bookstore to make sure that copies were on the shelf. I spotted a woman looking at the new fiction table and stayed close (I couldn’t believe she didn’t feel me breathing on her). Would she notice my book? Sure enough she did pick it up, then read the back cover and laughed. Even better, she put it under her arm. Oh joy, she was going to buy it (hopefully not steal it). When I introduced myself, she just stared at me like I was Alan Funt on Candid Camera. I don’t think she believed me, although who would lie about being the author of a book? Anyway, I showed her my photo inside and she gave me a big hug. She was a huge reader and loved meeting authors but I was the first one to stalk her. “Usually I’m the stalker,” she laughed. “Where do you live?”
Where can people buy your books?
My books are available at all the chain bookstores and from all of the major on line booksellers. Please check out my website and blog: saraleerosenberg.com