Interview with Arnine Weiss, author of #chicklit 'She Ain't Heavy'

Arnine Cumsky Weiss is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and a teacher of English as a second language. She has worked in the field of Deafness for over thirty years. She is the author of six books. BECOMING A BAR MITVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES, BECOMING A BAT MITZVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES (University of Scranton Press), THE JEWS OF SCRANTON (Arcadia Publishing), and THE UNDEFEATED (RID Press) and  THE CHOICE: CONVERTS TO JUDAISM SHARE THEIR STORIES (University of Scranton Press). Her second novel, SHE AIN’T HEAVY (Academy Chicago)was published in June, 2013. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Weiss and is the mother of Matt, Allie, and Ben.

Visit Arnine’s website at

About the Book:

Title: She Ain’t Heavy Genre: Chick Lit Author: Arnine Cumsky Weiss Publisher: Academy Chicago Press Pages: 255 Language: English ISBN-10: 0897337220 ISBN-13: 978-0897337229
Just when counter clerk Teddy Warner is about to be evicted from her Scranton apartment, she bumps into beautiful, brilliant, blond Rachel – her estranged childhood friend whose mother forbid their friendship thinking Teddy was beneath them.

Teddy and Rachel reconnect over hot chocolate and under New Year’s Eve fireworks.  Their discussion leads to an invitation. Soon, Teddy’s on her way to Philadelphia, where Rachel is a student, to share an apartment and begin an exciting new life in the City.

Teddy views Rachel as perfect.  Rachel can’t bring herself to shatter the image by letting on that she is having an affair with a married man. Just when Teddy is starting to feel at home, Rachel insists on some privacy.  Acting out her anger at being asked to stay away, Teddy indulges in a one-night stand.

When Teddy returns to their apartment the next morning, Rachel is being carried out on a stretcher – the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This unforeseen tragedy leaves Teddy alone in a strange city, with no money, no friends, and no connections.

As Teddy struggles to find her way, she meets a mentor at the same university Rachel previously attended who takes an interest in her, but with strings attached. She also develops a unique bond with the firefighter who rescued Rachel.  And yet, Teddy remains committed to helping Rachel get back on her feet, at a time when no one else who supposedly loves her can accept her in this diminished way.  Along the way, Teddy discovers her own strength in the roles of caretaker, lover, and friend.

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

 Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

After 9/11 I was fascinated with the stories about people who were supposed to be in the Towers that morning, but for some reason or other, they were detained or delayed. I wondered if these survivors recognized they were granted a second chance and if so, what did they do with it. That became the premise of the book. It was originally set in Manhattan immediately before and then right after 9/11. The protagonist of She Ain’t Heavy, Teddy Warner, had just moved there from a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania to be with a childhood friend, Rachel. Rachel was in the towers when they fell and Teddy was left in the big city with no money, no friends and no place to live.

For a variety of reasons, I changed the setting to Philadelphia and the catalyst for the tragedy was a carbon monoxide accident. In spite of the change in setting, She Ain’t Heavy carries the themes of second chances and how a character can grow and flourish when given the opportunity.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The hardest part of writing this book was finding Teddy’s voice. She’s a strong female character but she lacks a formal education. I found that I had to let her talk to me and she’d decide what to say.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Academy Chicago Press and my awesome agent, Janice Pieroni found them.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

She Ain’t Heavy is my sixth book, but this is the most mainstream publisher. I learned that the publishing house is great, but the author has to work in partnership with them to promote the book.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

I was thrilled and in shock. I couldn’t wait to show it to my mother. I found it hard to believe that I wrote all the words between the two covers.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m working on my next novel about a bread delivery guy, a red Mustang and a woman on house arrest. Stay tuned.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

It’s like finding out you’re Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. The main character, without any supportive family or a formal education comes to realize that she possesses great gifts. She just needed to take a heroic journey to find that she had the ruby slippers the whole time.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Sometimes our heroes are the guys who live next door and friendship and loyalty are some of the greatest gifts you can share.

  Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity.

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