Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Q&A with Zoe Fishman




Zoe Fishman is the author of the new novel The Fun Widow's Book Tour. Her other books include the novel Invisible As Air. She lives in Decatur, Georgia.


Q: The writer Nora McInerny said of your new novel, “Tender and real, Fishman's peek behind the proverbial curtain manages to somehow be heartbreaking and life-affirming both at once.” What do you think of that description, and what did you see as the balance between sadness and hope as you wrote the novel?


A: I was very touched by her description because that balance on the page was my goal all along. That’s what a good day as a griever is like for Mia: she appreciates the miracle of being alive, but it’s counterbalanced by the fact that her husband no longer is.


We’re all given such a short window, but we’re lucky for every second: even the crappy ones. At this stage in Mia’s grief: three years out, she’s having more good days than bad.


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Originally, the title was The Book Tour, but as my very insightful editor pointed out, the book wasn’t about a book tour so much as it was a widow, who also happened to be a writer, trying to make sense of herself again after the tragedy of losing her husband.


A few months after my husband died, my best friend was visiting me here in Atlanta. We went to get a manicure and I was uncertain about which color to pick. I chose a fiery red and jokingly said “hashtag fun widow,” and we both burst out laughing at its absurdity. I think it was the first time I had laughed since he had died.

I told my agent that story. She said what about The Fun Widow’s Book Tour? and here we are. It’s so ironic and darkly humorous because of course, there’s nothing fun about being a widow, not for a good long while anyway. I love the title.


Q: How much did your own experiences after the death of your husband inspire the creation of your author character Mia and her family?


A: Oh, all of it! Fun Widow is about as meta as meta can get in terms of Mia and her dudes. Writing has always been cathartic for me, but never more so than in this book.


Q: What impact did writing this novel have on you, and what do you hope readers take away from it?


A: I wrote Fun Widow in my garage, during the pandemic in between virtual-schooling my sons. It was my only escape from the monotony of that time, and thus it had a tremendous impact on me.


I think too, because my first draft was so terrible, I learned firsthand that no matter how terrifying a subject may be – in this case, my own experience – you have to write what your heart tells you to write.


I would love for readers to learn about the unpredictability of grief; the way it tears you down and lifts you up over and over again. I hope they’re moved by Mia’s journey and that they laugh a lot, too. I hope they hear my heart beating through the pages and as a result, make the decision to listen to their own whenever possible.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m trying my hand at historical fiction: specifically on the Gilded Age in the Lower East Side of New York. I found the most incredible gangster to write about, and I really hope I can face the challenges of this new genre gracefully. Fingers crossed!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’d love to meet readers this spring and summer as I travel a bit to promote Fun Widow. You can check out my website at www.zoefishman.net to find me. Thank you, Deborah, for your support!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Zoe Fishman.

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