Posts Tagged ‘Samantha Robey’
~ Interview by Melina Kantor
* This post is part of Erica Manfred’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour.
Until recently, I thought I’d heard (or even experienced) some of the worst JDate horror stories imaginable. Or at least some of the strangest.
Trust me. My friends and I could write books about our online dating experiences without having to stretch the truth even a little.
But then, I learned about poor Rhoda Ginsburg, the “zaftig, middle-aged journalist” from Erica Manfred’s book who falls in love with a vampire she meets on JDate. And he’s not just any vampire. He’s a former Hasadic rabbi who now lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and spends a surprising amount of time on eBay.
Oh yeah. He’s gorgeous too.
And well. . . Let’s put it this way. If Rhoda were sitting around a table with me and my single friends while we tried to outdo each other with entertaining JDate stories, she’d totally win.
As soon as I heard about Interview With a Jewish Vampire, I knew wanted to read it. Being a fellow JDater (and a Buffy fan), how could I not? The story did not disappoint. Interview With a Jewish Vampire is a hilarious book filled with incredibly vivid and quirky characters, such as Charlene, Rhoda’s friend who “looked like Wonder Woman but sounded like Tickle Me Elmo” and Rhoda’s tough, former New York City school teacher mother Fanny.
I’m delighted to have Erica here today to tell us more.
Welcome Erica! Thanks for stopping by the blog!
Q. Most authors I know don’t exactly love being asked where they get their ideas, but in this case, I can’t resist asking (forgive me). What sparked the idea for a book about JDate and a Hasidic vampire?
A: I fell in love with vampires in the 1980’s when I read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. The language, the romanticism, the concept of an entire vampire society who lived for centuries and were cursed with having to kill to live was enthralling. The sexiness of Rice’s vampires also made them irresistible. What red-blooded American fan of paranormal romance doesn’t fantasize about being ravished by Lestat?
I originally envisioned Interview with a Jewish Vampire as a humorous essay, a funny valentine to Anne Rice’s classic. I imagined the scenario of a Jewish girl meeting a Hasidic vampire on Jdate and interviewing him. He explains that he was a rabbi turned into a vampire by Dracula, an anti-semite, who thought it was a good joke to turn a Hasidic rabbi into a vampire because he’d be forced to drink blood which isn’t kosher. I mentioned the piece to a literary agent who repped a lot of paranormal novels at a journalist’s conference and she got very enthusiastic and told me to turn it into a novel. I sat on that idea for a while, too long a while as it happened. I wrote the novel with the encouragement of my writer’s critique group, but by the time I finished it, the same agent refused to look at it because she’d decided she wanted to move on. She didn’t want to be identified as the agent who only represents vampire novels anymore.
With my usual finger on the pulse of the market, I tried to sell Interview with a Jewish Vampire just when editors had decided that the vampire craze was over. Never mind that my book was a parody of vampire romances with a Jewish twist, which gave it a fresh take on the genre. If the publishing world has declared vampires over, they cannot be resuscitated except maybe by Anne Rice, who invented the genre and whose fans would buy the phone book if it had her name on it. But even Anne herself has moved on from Lestat and her other vampires. She’s dabbled in angels and is now writing about werewolves, for God’s sake. If even Anne, the mother of all vampires, has deserted us what hope is left?
Q: You describe yourself as a “self-publishing guru.” What is your top piece of advice for writers considering self-publishing their work?
A. Do it for love, not for money. Only the very smart and lucky few actually make money self publishing. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it however.
Q. What are some of the challenges of writing non-fiction in addition to your novels? Is it difficult to make the switch?
A. Yes, actually it is. I write non-fiction for a living, I still do. I’m primarily a health writer. I write fiction for love and it’s hard doing both because I have to focus on the money-making side. I feel like I should be out there pitching editors for new work, not writing about Jewish vampires.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?
A. I’m planning to write a sequel to Interview With a Jewish Vampire, called “True Kosher Blood.” And I’m publishing another book on Kindle, a mystery called “Get Off My Case, A Norma Katzman, detective, mystery.”
Thank you Erica. I’m looking forward to “True Kosher Blood!”
Erica Manfred is a freelance journalist, humorous essayist, and author. Her most recent book is the novel, Interview with a Jewish Vampire. She’s also authored two non-fiction self-help books, including most recently He’s History You’re Not; Surviving Divorce After Forty. Her articles and essays have appeared in Cosmopolitan, The New York Times Magazine, Ms., New Age Journal, Village Voice, Woman’s Day, SELF, Ladies Home Journal, and many other publications. Erica lives in Woodstock, New York with her Chihuahua, Shadow, and her daughter, Freda. Brought up by Jewish parents who spoke Yiddish but avoided religion, she got her Jewish education at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation which welcomes Jews from all backgrounds, from atheist to Orthodox, to vampire. Her website is www.ericamanfred.com, or visit www.jewishvampire.com
I often get asked why chick lit? Why did I dedicate my blog to this genre, which has been called less than remarkable words among “serious” literary folks? In all honesty, a few years back I was wandering through the library, not sure which direction to take. I had officially grown out of The Baby-Sitters Club books, outgrown the Sweet Valley High books, and wasn’t sure what to try next. Romance? Mystery? Nothing seemed right. But then I found a book with a hot pink cover, with confetti splashed across the front. Yes, the cover drew me in. The book was The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz, and I loved the story. On my next trip to the library, I hunted down more books with fun pink covers. I found The Agency by Ally O’Brien, and authors such as Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin. I really didn’t even realize I was reading a certain genre, until I decided to start my blog and post reviews. My world was opened up when I started “meeting” other great owners behind chick lit blogs, and I absolutely love the online community I now belong to.
Around November of last year, I started seeing a lot of Tweets and messages about different challenges readers could sign up for. Romance challenges, mystery challenges, sci-fi challenges. I started to wonder if anyone hosted a chick lit challenge. Why not? All these other genres were being focused on, someone needed to focus on chick lit! I waited a few weeks, not wanting to step on any of my fellow blogger’s toes if they usually host this type of challenge, but when no one came forward, I decided to host my first challenge. With the help of my followers, we decided on reading twelve chick lit books throughout 2011, with two of those being a debut from an author. I love working with debut authors on my blog, so I knew that would be a great element for the challenge as well. I have had great authors sponsor a month, and any reader who posts a review (either to their blog, Goodreads page, or another site such as Amazon) is entered to win that month’s prize. The response was better than I expected- almost ninety readers signed up to take the Chick Lit Challenge! I love reading their reviews, finding new authors, and watching the readers interact with one another. I am having a great time playing hostess, and am very grateful to all the authors and especially readers for making this challenge a success. If you want to sign up for the Chick Lit Challenge, there is still time! The cutoff month is October, so to sign up, just enter your name and blog URL on the Challenge page. If you do not have a blog, you can enter your GoodReads or Amazon URL, or send me an email at Samantha(at)chicklitplus.com and I will make sure you are entered. If you are an author and would like to sponsor a month (donate books as a prize) please email me and we can work out a timeframe. Thank you to everyone who has helped make the Chick Lit Challenge a success so far and I look forward to the rest of the year. And thank you to the RWA Chick Lit Chapter for letting me come talk about myself and my blog. I hope to be back again!
Samantha Robey is twenty-three and living in Des Moines, Iowa. She started Chick Lit Plus in October of 2009 as a way to connect with other readers and authors. She posts reviews, author interviews, and articles on topics such as health, fitness, beauty, and fashion. She also offers freelance editing services and coordinates blog tours for authors. Besides reading and writing, Samantha also enjoys traveling and sports- especially watching her Green Bay Packers win the Superbowl.