Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Author Interview: Abby Slovin

We had the pleasure of speaking with Abby Slovin about her novel Letters in Cardboard Boxes, and we took the opportunity to ask her a bit about herself.


So Abby, tell us a bit about yourself.

 Well, I’m a native New Yorker. I live in Jersey City with a wonderful husband and our adopted and quirky Pug/Chihuahua mix.  I love to spend time outdoors and travel. And my favorite way to unwind is to throw my cell phone somewhere far away and sit in silence, enjoying the sound of being "unplugged". I guess that would be "me" in a nutshell.

Letters is a pretty sad book, have you ever lost anyone close to you which inspired you to write this novel?

I like to think of it as a sad book with an uplifting message, but I can see where the sadness would weigh heavily on readers, which I think is just a testament to how deeply we feel loss even long after the moment has passed. And, while the story itself is completely fictional, I think some of the emotion it conveys does relate to my own experience. I lost a close friend a few years ago while writing the novel, and I also experienced the loss of my grandparents, both of which I was very close with.

 Do you have a  favorite part of the book?

I can think of a few scenes as favorites because of how vividly they remain in my mind. Probably my favorite of all is the scene when Parker first meets Jerry beneath the night sky. I've been told by some readers that his entrance felt almost magical, like a guardian angel entering someone's life. Also, it was one of the first scenes I ever wrote of the novel, so I have a specific attachment to it. I also love the scene on Parker's birthday when she and Tanya cruise around the city and end the night on a bench next to the Brooklyn Bridge. And, I also like the scene when Parker and Tanya are moving through the busy streets and Parker watches Tanya sway through the crowd with grace as Parker is left behind.

All these scenes I think were written with a certain degree of energy, which I like.

Does Under the Covers have a favorite part of the book?

 Jenn: I'd have to say I enjoyed the birthday cruise as well, I also liked when Parker finally confronted her parents, must have been nice to finally know what they had been thinking.
Meghan:  My favorite scene is probably when Parker and Tanya get momentarily caught in a downpour of rain, it created a beautiful and pleasant image in my mind. As well as picturing Dotty and Jerry whispering to each other through the fence as children.

 Are you working on anything new right now?

 Yes, I'm working on a few new projects right now, diving into each when I feel inspired to fill in some of the blanks. My website has an interactive feature called "New Projects" where readers can read excerpts from what I'm working on and vote on which project I should complete next:


The project I've been devoting the most time to is "10:15 on A Tuesday," the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between an upper-middle class widower and a psychic.

Jenn: That sounds like an interesting read!
Meghan: That is a great feature to have available to fans of your work, thanks for sharing the link with us. I'm eager to read any new works you will produce in the future.

Do you have a favorite author?

I don't know that I have a favorite, necessarily, but I very much enjoy the wit and humor of Kurt Vonnegut and Woody Allen and the quirkiness of stories written by Ruth Ozeki and Charles Baxter.

Why did you decide to become a writer?

Most of the time, I’m still unsure of what it means to be a writer, particularly in today’s sense of the word. The whole industry is going through such a major shift, so I wonder if a “writer” means someone who is traditionally published, or someone who makes a career from writing? Or is it just someone who loves to write? I don’t mean to be overly philosophical, but I just mean that I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be a writer. If it means someone who gets a lot of fulfillment from telling stories, I would say I always knew. I love writing and telling stories more than almost anything else.

What other things do you like to do besides write?

I like to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature. And be with family. I also love to have a nice, long meal, one which doesn't get interrupted by phone calls or schedules or anything else. I also like to be silly and see how long I can stretch a joke out with my best friend.

Why do you think someone should read your book, so why/when would you recommend  it?

I find it to be a good story that gets to the heart of a very special relationship between two people and portrays the impact of having this relationship break down. It focuses on the sort of struggle people go through everyday, something that readers can relate to on a genuine level. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a unique voice, a well-paced narrative and a compelling story.

Jenn: I agree, I was definitely able to relate to it!

What is it like to receive a review for your book? How do you feel when there is a good or bad one?

 It takes a lot of practice and patience to keep reviews from feeling personal, which I think is absolutely necessary in order for a writer to grow and improve. Its important to remember that the review is for the work, rather than the writer. That being said, I always get excited to receive any type of review -- good or bad -- because it means people are reading the story and its taking on new life out in the world and as long as its a thoughtful review I honestly don't feel anything other than gratitude for the attention someone gave to the story. The only kind of reviews I dislike are those that don't seem particularly thought out, "I just didn't like it," for example or "that character bothered me" without any further explanation. Those sorts of things are tough to deal with. But, having good, solid critique feels good to me no matter if its an amazing review or an awful one, because above all it means I've made it to the point where my writing is out in the world becoming something (whatever that "something" is).

Jenn: I imagine it must help a lot if someone explains what they didn't like about it, just having someone say they don't like it isn't very helpful.
Meghan: I love your outlook on what people say about your books. As long as people are saying something constructive, it is essentially good. I would think a lot of the joy of writing comes from knowing people took the time to think or talk about your book. It's really great that you see it in that light.

 If your book was a movie, who would you want to play the main character(s)?

I would imagine it should be someone who has an ability to convey a lot of internal struggle without being overdone and I admire a lot of actresses for this skill. I could imagine Anna Paquin in the role. Maybe Zooey Deschanel because she can be intense but quirky at the same time. Eliza Dushku could probably pull it off also.

Anyone come to mind when you think of the movie version?

 Jenn: I think Anna Paquin would be great!
Meghan:  Anna Paquin would make a great Parker, another that comes to mind is Charlize Theron I think she's great at portraying deep emotion.

What is your favorite book?
I could never choose one, but I could  try to narrow it down to a few: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ishmael, White Oleander, Wuthering Heights, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Cat's Cradle, A Feast of Love, and All Over Creation.

These are novels that pushed my understanding of the world. Books that changed me right as I sat reading them.

 Jenn: There is too many books out there to pick one, I'm just realizing that is a somewhat mean question to ask someone ..haha
Meghan: I love the books that makes us feel in the way you just described. They are treasures to be shared and kept forever :)

 What is your favorite Genre?

 I prefer works of literary fiction. But I also love biography and commercial fiction. Even some science fiction from time to time.

 What book are you most looking forward to right now?

 I've been wondering about "The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo" for awhile now and I'm just waiting for a little of the hype to die down so I can jump right in.

 Jenn: I haven't read that one myself, still wavering on the fence about it.
Meghan: I have also been wanting to read it, I received the millennium  series as a gift this past Christmas. It's on my huge list of books to read.

 If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go?

 Anywhere, hmmm...I would love to visit another habitable planet outside our solar system. Maybe discover new life, or maybe just see what the atmosphere looks like somewhere so far away.

Do you have a favorite quote?

   Many great quotes are floating around and I love so many. I could probably point to this one by Gandhi as a favorite: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Very simple, yet very inspiring as a mantra.

Meghan: That is indeed very inspiring, thanks for sharing that with us!

 Any advice for an aspiring author?

  My advice for aspiring writers is the same advice I have for myself: always be open to feedback and open to evolving as a writer. There is no “goal,” no “end game.” Being a writer is a process, and there is always something to learn or do better. You just have to try to keep up.

Thank you for speaking with us Abby! We enjoyed learning a little bit about you!

If you want to know more about Abby's book, you can read our reviews here! Or visit her site www.abbyslovin.com!


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