BIO:Abby Slovin was born in the summer of 1983 and lived in the same house on Long Island until attending the University of Michigan. She has a deep love for New York City, Brooklyn especially, where much of her family has its roots. She loves to spend time outdoors, travel, research family genealogy, and relax at home in Jersey City with her husband, Dominick and dog, Grumpy.
She has been influenced by many writers, and among her favorites are Kurt Vonnegut, Woody Allen, Ruth Ozeki and Charles Baxter. She loves witty prose and stories which describe complex relationships that are often difficult to explain.
Readers who are interested in learning more about Abby and her work should visit her website: www.abbyslovin.com
How long have you been writing?
I’ve always loved to write. Little poems and short stories used to be all over my journals as a child. Its been a “secret” hobby of mine for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that it became a serious endeavor.
Is Letters in Cardboard Boxes your first novel?
Yes, Letters is my first novel. I started writing in the Fall of 2007 and it took me three years to finish.
What led you or inspired you to write this story?
Although the story is completely fictional, it was inspired by a personal moment in my own life. While I was cleaning out some of my grandmother’s possessions after she had died, I found letters she had exchanged with my grandfather during their courtship and was hit with a lot of emotion. In particular, guilt at not having known this part of her life, sadness for not being able to talk to her about it, but also a lot of happiness that these letters breathed life into someone I loved who was no longer around. I started imagining a story with this idea at its center — of finding remnants of a person’s life after they’ve passed — and organized a fictional story around it. I named the main characters after my grandparents simply because it felt good to hear their names spoken out loud again.
How did you pick the title?
Basically, I started with a number of working titles that were much more vague and obscure and one day I was writing a section of the novel — I can’t remember which exactly — but it just occurred to me very suddenly. I loved the images that such a title evoked, so I kept it.
Do any of the characters reflect friends or family members in your life?
I try to keep my characters completely fictional simply because I love writing truly fictional characters, I love the challenge of creating a sense of a genuine person from a fictional place. The one exception to this is the character Phila who is very loosely based on a homeless man I met in college. Very groovy sort of guy with an interesting world view, so I found a place for him in the story.
Are you currently working on another book?
Yes, I’m working on two new projects right now. The first is a monthly feature on a blog called the Dunce Academy about a recent college graduate searching for work (link below). The other will be my next novel, called 10:15 On A Tuesday, the story of an unlikely friendship between an upper-middle class widower and a psychic (link below as well).
What is your favorite book or author?
Some of my favorite books are One Hundred Years of Solitude, White Oleander, Ishmael, and A Thousand Splendid Suns. And, I love everything by Kurt Vonnegut. My other favorite authors are Ruth Ozeki and Charles Baxter.
Favorite time of the day to write?
I’m always more productive late at night. In my “perfect world”, I wouldn’t have to wake up until noon and I could write every night from Midnight until 3AM.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
The advice I have for aspiring writers is the same advice I have for myself: always be open to feedback and open to evolving as a writer. There is no “goal,” no “end game.” Being a writer is a process, and there is always something to learn or do better. You just have to try to keep up.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?I have such a long list of places I want to go. Right now, Portugal is calling to me for some reason, but the list is endless.
What have you learned about writing or publishing since releasing this book?
Oh gosh, I feel like I could write an entire book about the process of writing and publishing a book. If your readers have specific questions, I would be pleased to answer anything I can. Overall, I’ve learned that patience and resilience are essential to both.
Thank you for these questions, Megan!
I’m so excited that I got the chance to interview author Abby Slovin. Enter to win an E copy of her novel, Letters In Cardboard Boxes below.