Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Interview with Sally Koslow, Author of 'With Friends Like These'




Sally Koslow, the author of With Friends like These, began writing fiction after a long run as the editor-in-chief of major American women’s magazines, including the venerable McCall’s and Lifetime, a start-up she launched for Hearst and Disney. Her second novel, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, is currently Target’s Book Pick. Koslow contributes articles and essays to magazines including Real Simple, More and O the Oprah Magazine, teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and practices as an independent writing coach.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Sally. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Answer: Writing fiction is my second act, following decades as a magazine editor. After the demise of McCall’s, where I’d been the editor-in-chief for years, (it was turned over to the celebrity, Rosie O’Donnell, who transformed it into a short-lived magazine called Rosie, which ended in a lawsuit and nasty public trial) I spoofed these you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up events in my first novel, Little Pink Slips. One book in and I started wondering, why hadn’t I started to write fiction sooner? The Late, Lamented Molly Marx was next and turned into a bestseller in Germany, Ich, Molly Marx, Kurzlich Verstorben, complete with a glossary of Yiddish/Jewish words. Like bagel. My work has been translated into ten languages. It’s a special kick to see your book in Chinese.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Answer: With Friends like These takes a hard look at contemporary friendship, especially how loyalties get tested when women marry, have kids and start living lives more complicated than when they were single. Where I think it’s fair to say Little Pink Slips was a bit fluffy—it was about the magazine industry, after all, where success can depend on the holy trinity of good hair, good shoes, good bag—With Friends like These is raw. I loved that Publishers Weekly called it “achingly real” and said it packed “a lot of wit and wisdom.” I tried to create a snapshot of how difficult it is to be a decent friend.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Answer: With Friends like These features four main characters with chapters in their individual voices. One woman is from Minnesota; another, California; the third, Staten Island and the last, Connecticut. I tried to give each a distinctive speech pattern along with a unique viewpoint. Mostly, I tried to make them not all sound like me.



Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

Answer: On my website visitors can find novel excerpts; reviews; book club discussion guides; essays and articles that I’ve published recently in magazines such as Real Simple, More and O the Oprah Magazine; and get information on how to reach the publicity team at Ballantine as well as me, by email. You can also find out about my teaching. I’m an instructor at The Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College and the New York Writers Resource as well as an independent writing coach/workshop facilitator. My website lists upcoming events and TV/radio programs and has links to podcasts of previous appearances. My favorite is a standoff with Glenn Beck who, I’m proud to say, didn’t wear me down.

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

Answer: I’ve been on many national and regional TV and radio programs, including “Today” and “Good Morning America” and have made numerous appearances on behalf of my books. My favorite venues are book clubs. Nothing’s better than meeting readers. My kickoff event for With Friends like These is on its publication date, August 10th, when I will have a public reading at Borders Book Store, 7 p.m., at the branch in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Answer: For all four books I’ve been well-represented by Christy Fletcher.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

Answer: In addition to readings and signings, I’m blogging here and there. You can also find me and my books on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library Things and the Random House Book Club. These days, most “media blitz” is online. You do it in your running shorts.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Answer: I’m very excited about my next book, which is a return to my magazine roots: non-fiction. I just signed to write The Wander Years: A mom’s public display of reflection which focuses on “adultescsents” aged 22-35 and the ways their lives baffle some of their more conventional parents.

Thank you for your interview, Sally. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Answer: My web site is www.sallykoslow.com, which includes links to many resources that sell my novels.