Author Archives: Yona Zeldis McDonough

The Lilith Blog

April 2, 2020 by

Fran Is Just Fine

Fran Drescher is once again having a moment. And she should be: in this dark, uncertain moment, her brand of humor is exactly the flavor we need.

As one of the stars in the new NBC sitcom, Indebted, the 62-year-old comic actress is trading on the fame she gained during the run of The Nanny, which aired from 1993-1999. I started watching that show because of my daughter Kate, who chortled her way through the reruns that aired every weeknight just after dinner time.  

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The Lilith Blog

March 31, 2020 by

A Memoirist on Making Tragedy Meaningful

When Eilene Zimmerman’s teen-aged children told her about their father—and her ex’s—increasingly erratic behavior, she made a spontaneous trip to his house to find out what was going on. Once inside, she found him dead and even more shocking, learned he’d been a serious drug addict.
 
She talks to fiction editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about her new memoir, Smacked: A Story of White Collar Ambition, Addiction and Tragedy (Random House) and what compelled her to write it. 

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The Lilith Blog

March 28, 2020 by

The Light After the War: Jews in Caracas

Two best friends jump off a train heading for Auschwitz, leaving their mothers still on board.  They survive the rest of the war in hiding, and when peace is finally declared, make their way to Naples, then Ellis Island and finally Caracas, trying to rebuild their shattered lives. This actually happened to Anita Abriel’s mother, and she used it as the basis for her newest novel, The Light After the War (Atria Books, $27). She talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how and why she transformed fact into fiction. 

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The Lilith Blog

March 24, 2020 by

Real Life Mysteries: A Lost Voice and Communication With the Dead

Everyone loves a great mystery on the page, but what about in real life? Victoria Zackheim decided to ask a group of writers exactly that question and she collects their answers in the new volume, Private Investigations: Mystery Writers on the Secrets, Wonders and Riddles in Their Lives (Seal Press). Caroline Leavitt’s mystery began with her losing her voice, and the endless medical quest she embarked on to find out why. Hallie Ephron was prompted to write about a friend’s belief that she could communicate with her dead brother. Both of these writers talk to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how their essays were informed by their experience as Jewish women.

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The Lilith Blog

March 16, 2020 by

The Fraught and Frayed Bonds of Sisterhood

The fraught, frayed bonds of sisterhood is a subject beautifully explored by Lynda Cohen Loigman in The Wartime Sisters (St. Martin’s Press) a WWII-era novel that probes the connection between Millie—beautiful, impractical—and Ruth, pragmatic yet desperate to protect the life she’s carved out for herself.

Loigman talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how she found her way to their story and where it took her.  

Yona Zeldis McDonough: What attracted you to the subject of the Springfield Armory and how did you go about doing your research?

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The Lilith Blog

February 11, 2020 by

One Book, Three Protagonists…and Three Authors!

Book cover for "All The Ways We Said Goodbye"

 

A book with three main protagonists and three different time periods is not so uncommon.  But when that book is written by three different authors collaborating on a single whole, that’s pretty unusual. And that’s the case with the newly released All the Ways We Said Goodbye (William Morrow) written by the team of Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White. It feels so feminist to write a novel collaboratively, we had to know more. Willig chatted with Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about how the story arcs of Aurelie, Daisy and Babs all converge at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, and about the benefits of three authors, one Unibrain.

Yona Zeldis McDonough: Where did the co-writing idea come from and how does it work? 

Lauren Willig: Three authors walked into a bar…. But, really!  It was the summer of 2012, and the three of us were indulging in a little liquid comfort at a writers’ conference. We’d all just come back from book tour and were moaning about how lonely it was to tour on our own and what fun it would be if we could just be together like this always, when one of us came up with a brilliant idea: all we had to do was write a book together! And then our publisher would pay for our girls’ trip and our bar bill.  Simple as that.

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The Lilith Blog

January 30, 2020 by

Love and the Law in “That’s Not a Thing.”

Meredith Altman has a serious choice to make—does she return to her first love, and confront the heartbreak she caused him?  Or does she keep a safe distance in order to protect the new relationship she’s built?  These are the questions that animate Jacqueline Friedland’s That’s Not a Thing (Spark Press) and the author talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about the ways in which Meredith’s journey mirrors—and departs from—her own.

YZM: The theme of guilt is threaded through the novel—do you feel it’s a particularly Jewish kind of guilt? 

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The Lilith Blog

January 11, 2020 by

Otherness and Family Secrets—Stories from the Borscht Belt

Screen Shot 2020-01-06 at 4.23.44 PMFloating in the Neversink (Black Rose Writing), a wistful novel-in-stories, evokes a particular moment in American Jewish culture–the Catskills and New York in the 1950s and 60s. Author Andrea Simon talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about her journey back to the past. 

YZM: This is a coming-of-age novel in which Mandy’s family is front and center.

AS: The 1950s and 1960s were a unique time in New York for many Jewish families, before they dispersed to faraway areas for settling and travel. In many cases, families provided the pivotal gathering framework for socialization. This was particularly true for New York’s Catskill Mountains, also known as the Borscht Belt.

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The Lilith Blog

January 9, 2020 by

After She Lost Her Father, She Found Him

Screen Shot 2020-01-06 at 5.01.31 PMIn More Than Words (Putnam), Jill Santopolo’s newest novel, Nina Gregory faces a double loss—the death of her beloved father and the shattering of her illusions when she discovers that he wasn’t at all the man she thought he was. Santopolo talks with Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about what she and her protagonist share—and what they don’t.

YZM: Your mother is Jewish and your father was Christian; how did that shape your characters? 

JS: In my novel, More Than Words, two of the main characters have parents from different places with differing traditions. Nina’s mother’s family is from Greece and her father’s family is from Wales, and Rafael’s mother’s family is from Ireland and his father’s family is from Cuba. Nina and Rafael connect, at one point in the book, when they talk about what it means to feel that duality of identity. That experience, of dual identity, is something that I felt growing up–and still feel today–and the conversation they have was inspired by one that I had with my husband, whose background is the same as mine but reversed. Even though I’ve written many other books, this is the first time that I wrote about that experience, and even though Nina and Rafael’s dual identities don’t match my own, the essence of what it feels like to have a family that’s not simply one thing or another is the same.  

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The Lilith Blog

January 8, 2020 by

The Power of Humor for Smashing the Patriarchy

Screen Shot 2020-01-06 at 5.04.48 PMMost attorneys don’t moonlight as a humorists, so Lori B. Duff’s new collection of essays,  If You Did What I Asked in the First Place (Deeds Publishing), may just be a first of its kind.  Duff talks to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about her unusual professional pairing. 

YZM: How do the jobs of lawyer and comic coexist in your life?

LBD: I feel sorry for lawyers without a sense of humor. I feel like those two things are the Yin and Yang of my life. They balance each other out. The law can be so harsh. No one thinks, “I’m having the best day of my life. I think I’m going to go see my lawyer.”  People come to talk to me professionally when they are at their lowest: when someone has died, when their marriages are breaking apart, or when they are in financial trouble. When you focus on those things for 40 or more hours a day, you start thinking the entire world is tragedy. It’s important to balance that by thinking about the opposite of tragedy, which is comedy. When you add to that the maxim that comedy is tragedy plus time, they are natural partners.     (more…)

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