Ask the Author: Laura Zigman
Facebook: Laura Zigman
Separation Anxiety (published March 3, 2020, Ecco Books): purchase via IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780062909077
What would you like readers to know about you?
I guess what I’d like readers to know about me most is that I’ve just published my fifth novel – my first in 14 years! It’s called Separation Anxiety. My first novel was Animal Husbandry and it was about a woman who gets dumped and tries to figure out male behavior by studying animal behavior. It was made into a movie called “Someone Like You,” starring Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd – it’s often on cable so look for it if you like romantic comedies!
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Separation Anxiety is about Judy who, at 50, is facing a lot of sadness: she’s lost both her parents, her career is stalled, her son is growing up and growing away from her, her best friend is dying, and she and her husband want to separate but they can’t afford to live apart. To try to deal with the pain of all that loss, she starts wearing the family dog in a baby sling as a form of self-comfort. It’s like a therapy-dog on steroids.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
By the time I was 50, I’d faced a lot of the same things Judy did, which is why I wanted to write about a character who is at that point in life when loss and grief seems overwhelming. So many of us have struggled and I wanted to start the book there as a way to acknowledge that grief is part of life. Obviously the book moves forward from that point, and that’s where some of the fun is.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
One of my favorite scenes to write was the one where Judy and her husband Gary go to a(nother) couples’ therapist. They go about once a year, always to someone new in the hopes that they’ll find a magical therapist, but in the end they know, deep down, that they’re un-helpable. It’s mostly a funny scene and anyone who’s married and has ever gone for couple’s counseling will, I’m sure, recognize something about themselves or their spouse in that scene.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
When I was in high school, I always loved poetry – reading it and writing it – and listening to albums while reading the lyrics on the album covers (this was the 70s, so I’m dating myself). I loved listening to Joni Mitchell, and I loved reading Joan Didion who wrote mostly essays (Slouching Toward Bethlehem was my favorite collection), and William Faulkner – I’m not sure I truly understood The Sound and the Fury but I loved how he used language and a kind of stream-of-consciousness style.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Keep trying, don’t give up – even when you get a lot of rejection – that’s what all writer’s experience – and, if you have trouble with writer’s block as I did for almost 10 years, just take baby steps to trick yourself into writing. Some of my favorite baby steps are: read if you don’t feel like writing, write in a journal if you’re stuck with something you’re working on, and if you’re looking for a good writing prompt, look no further than an old photo or an object on your bedroom dresser or in your kitchen that has meaning and reminds you of someone or something. Post the photo and a few lines or a paragraph on Instagram – that counts as writing! Keep doing those things and you’ll find your way in whatever it is that you’re working on.