Sally Koslow's most recent novel is The Widow Waltz, now available in paperback. She also has written three novels--With Friends Like These, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, and Little Pink Slips--and a work of nonfiction, Slouching Toward Adulthood. She was editor-in-chief of McCall's magazine and has taught at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. She is based in New York.
Q: Why did you decide to write about widowhood?
A: Short answer: because I’m in awe of women who rebuild their lives.
Longer answer: while The Widow Waltz pivots around a woman who has recently lost her husband—something that’s happened at a young age to too many women that I know--the novel’s themes extend to betrayal and forgiveness.
After the main character’s husband dies his widow, Georgia Waltz, discovers that he’d led a secret life that compromises her financial stability. Georgia needs to get past her grief to re-invent herself in midlife, a task that is never easy, even without the heartache of a lost partner.
Q: How did you come up with your three main characters, Georgia, Louisa, and Nicola?
A: Georgia was inspired by several strong women I’ve known while her daughters, Louisa and Nicola, were animated by young women I met while researching my non-fiction book, Slouching Toward Adulthood. It explores the roundabout paths American adultescents travel as they search for their bliss.
Q: Why are the chapters from Georgia’s perspective told in first person while the chapters told from her daughters’ perspectives are in third person?
A: The Widow Waltz is Georgia’s book. A first-person voice adds intimacy and as the soul of the novel, I wanted her to talk directly to the reader.
Q: As someone who’s written both fiction and nonfiction, do you have a preference?
A: Whatever genre I’m committed to at the moment becomes my favorite. A writer can’t afford not to feel this way. When you’re creating a book, it’s your mind-mate, lover and worthy adversary for as long as your patience and publisher can stand.
Earlier this year I wrote about this subject for The New York Times: “In fiction, creativity is the glue that holds the work together, and an author sells herself on the idea that a sense of childish make-believe will pull her through. In nonfiction, curiosity becomes the cement.”
Q: What are you working on now?
A: My fifth novel. Fingers crossed.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’m a book club bigamist. I belong to two clubs and each one helps my writing. One club reads only books that have stood the test of time while the other is made up of writers and we’ve chosen to read exclusively recent novels.
It’s a thrill when book clubs read my books, especially if I can visit the group either virtually or face-to-face. If anyone would like me to visit their book club, I hope they’ll please get in touch through my website so we can work something out.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb