Is it dangerous to search for an old flame you never got over? What if you find him—and he doesn’t remember you? In her captivating new novel, Susan Shapiro—memoirist, novelist, humorist and writing teacher extraordinaire—explores the perils of revisiting the passion of yesteryear. Lila Penn leaves Wisconsin for graduate school in the big city, where she falls for her professor Daniel Wildman. Decades after their tangled link, she arranges a tête-à-tête in downtown Manhattan. But the shocking encounter blindsides Lila, causing her to question her memory as well as her sanity. Shuttling between Greenwich Village and Tel Aviv, the saga unravels the sexual secret that’s haunted Daniel and Lila for thirty years. Writing a Woman’s life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough catches up with Shapiro to get the skinny on this hilarious yet piercing novel.
Q: How long did it take you to complete?
A: From start to publication six years. But I worked on a few projects in between.
Q: Are there autobiographical elements in this novel?
A: Yes part of it is very autobiographical. But the real story wasn’t ultimately very dramatic. So I wound up embellishing and dramatizing it a lot to make more page-turning as a novel.
Q: Can you talk about the role that humor plays?
A: I think everything I write has my fast dark sense of humor. A book reviewer who was critiquing my first novel said something like, “her dialogue sounds like Aaron Sorkin’s walk-and-talks.” Even though they meant to be insulting, I was very flattered and used it as a blurb.
Q: The dramas and rivalries of creative writing programs are given a lot of play; can you say more about this?
A: They say academia is so cut throat because there’s so little at stake. And what happens if you put a bunch of ambitious writers in the same academic program for two years or more? You’re bound to get several chronicles.
Q: What’s the real heart of this story for you?
A: I was forty when a midlife crisis inspired seeking out former boyfriends for my memoir FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART. That was a (hopefully) humorous take. A decade later, WHAT’S NEVER SAID explores the darker side of revisiting a romance from your past. It’s also about marriage and the road not taken. I’ve been in love with my husband for twenty years so that’s a topic that fascinates me.
Q: What’s next on your horizon?
A: Now I’m working on another memoir. Nonfiction is so much easier for me! Fiction kills me.
About Susan Shapiro
Susan Shapiro, a Manhattan journalism professor, has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Newsweek, Salon.com, Daily Beast, The Forward, Village Voice, People, More, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan.
Sue lives with her husband, a TV/film writer, in Greenwich Village, where she teaches her own “instant gratification takes too long” writing method at the New School, NYU and in private workshops and seminars.
About WHAT’S NEVER SAID
It’s dangerous to search for an old flame you never got over. What if you find him—and he doesn’t remember you? In her captivating new novel, Susan Shapiro explores the perils of revisiting past passion.
Lila Penn leaves Wisconsin for graduate school in the big city, where she falls for her professor Daniel Wildman. Decades after their tangled link, she arranges a tête-à-tête in downtown Manhattan. But the shocking encounter blindsides Lila, causing her to question her memory—and sanity.
Switching between Greenwich Village and Tel Aviv, the saga unravels the sexual secret that’s haunted Daniel and Lila for thirty years.
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A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME.
After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.
While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.
Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…
Buy THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR
About Yona Zeldis McDonough
Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.