Divorce has become a common part of our culture. We accept it, we claim to understand it, but often we're looking at it from an adult's point of view. What does divorce look like from the other side? Do they see divorce as a new beginning, the bridge to a better life, as something that just "happens"?
In Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg's debut novel The Divorce Girl, readers are invited to look at divorce through the eyes of Deborah, a teenager who is an unwilling witness to her parents' divorce and new lives. The divorce of this average couple in the New Jersey suburbs during the 1970s propels Deborah to the biggest flea market in the free world, a Greek diner with immigration issues, a New York City taxi company, a radical suburban synagogue, and a hippie-owned boutique. The Divorce Girl combines humor, sadness, and the many faces of love while recording the transformation of a broken girl into a strong woman.
Paperback: 374 pages
Publisher: Ice Cube Press (July 7, 2012)
Twitter Hashtag: #DivGrl
The Divorce Girl is available in paperback at Ice Cube Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local independent bookstore.
Book Giveaway Contest: If you would like to win a copy of The Divorce Girl, please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in the random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, July 12 at 11:59 PM PST. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #DivGrl, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet. We will announce the winner the following day—Friday, July 13. Good luck!
About the Author:
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the author of 14 books, including a forthcoming nonfiction book, Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other (Potomac Books); The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body (Ice Cube Books); the anthologies An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate (co-editor, Ice Cube Books) and Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (editor, Woodley Press); and four collections of poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts—a master's program in social and personal transformation through the written, spoken and sung word—at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-writes songs, offers collaborative performances, and leads writing and singing Brave Voice retreats.
Find the author online:
---------Interview by Jodi Webb
WOW: I was excited to read The Divorce Girl because it was such a new turn for you. I've read your memoirs, poetry, and nonfiction—but never fiction. What made you decide to make the leap to the fiction shelf?
Caryn: I actually started writing this book in my head when I was 14 and living through my parents' rather dramatic divorce in central New Jersey. I narrated events, described scenes and considered characters in my mind and on paper all the way through my teenage years as a way of surviving and outrageously painful situation that went on for years. I started writing this novel in earnest almost 17 years ago, going through dozens and dozens of full revisions, working with agents and other writers, and mostly going to ground on what I most wanted to say about the power of the arts to help us survive and thrive. So while I haven't published much fiction, this novel has been in the works for most of my life in one way or another. While it might seem like an idea to have written this as a memoir, I knew throughout the process that I could get closer to the emotional resonance of the story, and also the theme's relevance to readers, through fiction, which is a great way of entering a story through the backdoor, and letting the characters you create unfold what happens, why and what it can mean.
WOW: Do you enjoy the change to fiction? Is it freeing compared to memoir writing or more challenging?
Caryn: I simply love writing, whether it's poetry, songs, memoir, blog posts or fiction. What's challenging here is that this is a long piece, and keeping the tension building and releasing just so in each chapter and in the novel overall took years of revision and re-envisioning what the novel wanted to be and how I could most help it arrive at its truest self. Because the frame of the story is based on my life, I also needed to work long and hard with separating myself from the story, and also, letting the characters help direct the story this new way.
WOW: The Divorce Girl seems to straddle two genres. The main character, Deborah, is a teenager which points to YA but the themes are very adult...the father's dysfunctional approach to relationships, the dissolution of several adult relationships, sexual encounters...do you classify your book as for teenagers, for adults, or both?
Caryn: Over and over, I've had editors and agents ask to declare the novel as either Young Adult of Literary Fiction, but I found choosing one over another didn't do justice to the novel. This is a novel for anyone who has been through challenges and found ways through by coming home to themselves and making something of their lives. The main character is a teenager, but she crosses the threshold into being a woman on her own two feet over the course of the novel. I believe this novel can offer readers of many ages hope and inspiration. At the same time, I would recommend against younger teens reading it unless it was clearly just the thing they should read because my main character does face violence, depression and big fear.
WOW: It does seem that in recent years we've become ever more insistent on fitting a book into a specific category. It's refreshing to receive a recommendation that focuses less on the established genres and more on your specific book! You can claim many types of books: poetry, memoir, fiction, writing how-to. Are there any other types of writing you'd like to add to that list?
Caryn: I have a forthcoming book about the Holocaust, Needle in the Bone: How A Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other—this book is based on oral histories with two men, both my good friends, who had a remarkable story to tell, and it's both a non-fiction book but also a little bit of a memoir; as I thread through their stories my own grappling with the big questions they raise about good and evil, surviving the worst humanity can do to itself, and living with great loss.
I also write songs with rhythm and blues singer Kelley Hunt. As for other genres, it's not like I'm out hunting for unexplored genres. I haven't written drama since I was a teenager, but I'm open to exploring playwrighting if that calls to me. Generally, I turn on the faucet and see what comes out, writing-wise.
WOW: I bet we wish we all had a writing faucet that was so generous! In today's publishing world we hear so much about the big, traditional, mostly New York City based publishers as well as the self-publishing and e-book publishing world. But you've gone another route by placing your books with small presses such as Ice Cube Press and Mammoth Press. How did you find your way to these publishers?
Caryn: I used to dream about being published by one of the big boy publishers, but you know what? Despite writing and publishing for decades, that dream didn't come true, which may be all for the good since I'm working with small publishers I love and trust. I also believe the future of publishing lies with small publishers, who are agile enough to change with the times, don't have large overheads, and are publishing what they truly believe in over what can be marketed to a specific demographic.
I found Ice Cube Press after I went through a dark night of the writer's soul (and it lasted for months longer than a single night). One day, The Divorce Girl manuscript came back to me, rejected by an agent who had held onto it for a year, first telling me she loved it, and later, she wasn't interested in it. I was home sick with the flu, and the Fedex truck got stuck in the mud. Rather than wait for help, the driver kept gunning his engine and spinning his wheels. I watched from my porch in my pajamas and thought, "That's my writing career."
It was a great wake-up call, and after some sound counseling for me and my writing career, I realized what I wanted most wasn't to be famous, published by Random House and jet-setting to L.A. for readings, but to write something that mattered and helped others find great strength, courage and healing. So I started looking at small publishers, and I found Ice Cube and then Mammoth. I did eventually get an agent, who was able to sell the holocaust books to Potomac Press too. Overall, I'm not adverse to bigger publishers, but what's happening now is that I've been published by small to medium publishers who care greatly about my work, help produce beautiful books, and get my work out into the world. I'm very grateful.
WOW: Can you tell us a bit about your experience with small publishers? How does one find these tiny, often regional publishers? Do they require agents?
Caryn: Mostly, you don't need an agent to approach a small publisher, but I strongly encourage people to research small publishers thoroughly before approaching them. You can find lists of publishers in many guides, and look for who publishes your kind of book. Then research what exactly this publisher has published, look at its website to learn all you can about the philosophy and general focus of the publishing house, and then approach the publisher, following its author guidelines precisely. Many small publishers are inundated all the time with requests, and yet they only have small or non-existent staffs, so make sure your book proposal has a dazzling cover letter and includes exactly what the publisher asks for (don't just box up your manuscript and send it off).
WOW: Do you see any advantages or disadvantages to a small press?
Caryn: I have some good friends who have published bestsellers with big houses, and they often complain to me about having little control over what their book will look like or over how their book will be marketed. With a small press, you generally have a lot more control over such things (My publisher even let me weigh in on the font he used). ON the other hand, small presses have little or no money for marketing, but then again, even the big presses have far less resources for marketing these days, and many big name authors regularly hire publicists on their own dime. With a small press, it's also less likely that you'll get an advance and if you do, it may be small. Overall, the competition is overwhelming every direction you go, but keep in mind that small presses actually publish many, many, many books altogether, and many in the industry—particularly as big presses slash budgets and staffs—look to small presses as the wave of the present and future. It's also more likely an emerging writer will get a contract with a small press than a big press (so maybe the odds are reduced from one in a million to one in a thousand!).
WOW: What's next? Any new books or projects you'd like to tell us about?
Caryn: I have another novel in revision. It's based on Miriam (from the bible) and her brothers in modern-day America, wandering our political and spiritual desert from 1969 to 2009. I'm looking forward to another big revision on this big novel (it's over 600 pages, but then again, I'm covering over 40 years) before showing it to some readers, tweaking it accordingly, and sending it out into the world in search of a publisher. I'm also writing poetry to do with storm photos of Stephen Locke, a weather chaser and astonishing photographer, and since I love Kansas where the weather is quite dramatic, I have a lot of inspiration all the time.
---------Blog Tour Dates
Wednesday, July 11 @ Reviews by Molly
Don't miss a review of The Divorce Girl. This book should be on your Summer Reading List!
Friday, July 13 @ Laurie Here
Check out today's interview with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author of the novel The Divorce Girl.
Monday, July 16 @ CMash Loves to Read
Learn about The Power of Art to Heal Your Life from Caryn Mirriam Goldberg, author of the novel The Divorce Girl. And don't forget to enter to win a free copy!
Wednesday, July 18 @ Musings from the Slushpile
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author of the novel The Divorce Girl, writes about using humor as a tool for resiliency.
Friday, July 20 @ Thoughts in Progress
Don't miss out on what novelist Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg learned from her fictional characters and a review of her debut novel The Divorce Girl.
Monday, July 23 @ Books, Books, The Magical Fruit
Stop by to learn more about writer Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and a chance to win her debut novel The Divorce Girl.
Wednesday, July 25 @ A Writer's Life
Is your life interesting enough to write about? Learn about "The Quirky Characters, Moments & Opportunities Around Us" from writer Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.
Thursday, July 26 @ Words by Webb
70s style divorce wasn't just The Brady Bunch. Learn another story of 70s style divorce in the novel The Divorce Girl.
Friday, July 27 @ Reader Girls
Caryn Mirriam-Golberg shares how her life became a book and gives readers the chance to win her novel The Divorce Girl.
Wednesday, August 1 @ Buried in Books
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author of The Divorce Girl, stops by with a surprise guest post.
Thursday, August 2 @ Me and Reading
Stop by to learn more about Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and her first novel The Divorce Girl in today's interview!
Tuesday, August 7 @ Cathy C. Hall
Curious about how Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg transformed her life as a divorce girl into the novel The Divorce Girl? Find out and enter to win a copy!
Thursday, August 9 @ Mom-e-centric
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is going to surprise everyone with one final guest post and a giveaway today!
Friday, August 10 @ Empty Nest
Don't miss your last chance to win a copy of Caryn Mirriam Goldberg's debut novel The Divorce Girl!
To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar here.
If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win a print copy of The Divorce Girl! Here's how you enter:
1. For your first entry, just leave a comment on this post! Just leave Caryn a comment or ask a question to be entered in the random drawing.
2. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #DivGrl then come back and leave us a link to your tweet.
The giveaway contest closes Thursday, July 12 at 11:59 PM PST. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day—Friday, July 13, and if we have the winner's email from the comments section. we will also notify them via email.