Q&A With Sara Goodman Confino
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Q&A With Sara Goodman Confino
Today I have the honor of doing my latest Q&A with Sara Goodman Confino. Sara is the author of She’s Up To No Good, For The Love Of Friends, & coming out on September 1st is Don’t Forget To Write. On top of being an author Sara teaches high school English and Journalism in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Q: Sara, would you like to tell the readers of the blog and I a little bit about your upcoming release, Don’t Forget To Write and how you came up with the idea for the story?
A: Hi! Don’t Forget to Write is the story of 20 year old Marilyn Kleinman who is caught making out with the rabbi’s son during services (they crash through a stained glass window and EVERYONE catches them). Her parents want her to marry the boy to save face in the community, but when she says no, her parents send her to her great aunt Ada, a professional matchmaker. And Ada is NOT what Marilyn is expecting.
The story was actually born right after the release of my second novel, She’s Up to No Good. My editor emailed me and wanted to know what was next (and hadn’t loved my previous idea) and as my husband struggled to put up our umbrella against the wind, inspiration hit. It also helped that a bookstagrammer had referred to me as “The Marvelous Mrs. Confino” earlier that week and I liked the idea of going with some Mrs. Maisel vibes. I wanted a young girl (Marilyn) in the early 1960s (pre-Kennedy assassination) who gets in trouble with her family and gets sent away to an elderly relative to be straightened out. But as I sat under that umbrella, the jetty where the book ends to my left, the whole story blossomed. I wrote the pitch from my phone on the beach, the outline that night, and the first two chapters the following night. And from there it just poured out of me.
Q: Do you use bits and pieces of real people and places to create the characters and worlds within your books?
A:I think I usually use people as inspiration more than carbon copies. Of course, people who know me are always trying to guess who everyone is (or claiming who they are!) but I don’t think there’s anyone in any of my books who is wholly based on someone else. Evelyn in For the Love of Friends and She’s Up to No Good is loosely inspired by my grandmother (the malapropisms, acting less with it than she is, etc), although she DID actually steal all the Sweet N Low from a rest stop one time. And while none of the brides in For the Love of Friends are based on anyone I know, the inspiration is still there. My best friend read that one before it went to my agent and still kept calling me while listening to the finished version and saying, “Oh no, I did that to you, didn’t I?”
With Don’t Forget to Write, the setting was heavily influenced by my favorite beach town, Avalon, NJ. My uncle built a house there 18 years ago and I’ve gone every summer (except 2020—I had a newborn and traveling that summer was a no go). I know when people hear “Jersey shore” they think of the show, but Avalon is as far from that as it’s possible to get and there’s still a lot (like the ice cream shops) that look like they would have back in 1960, so it was fun to peel back layers on a place that I love.
Q: Who in your family and friends were your biggest supporters of your writing goal and talent? When did you know that writing was your calling?
A: My family has always been huge readers, so I would think it started there. But my uncle Jules is the official answer. He was a highly respected neurosurgeon and he never married or had kids, so in a lot of ways, his nieces and nephews were his kids. He always gave the best gifts. He took me and my brother to Disney World for a week. He bought me my first car. But when I was eight, I had written him a letter, and the next time he visited, he brought me a typewriter and told me I’d be a writer when I grew up. I don’t know how he saw that in me that young, but he did.
He died in 2008, so he never got to see me fulfill his vision. But I like to think that somehow he knows and is proud of me.
Q: If you are currently writing your next novel, can you reveal any details or is it too early to say yet?
A: My next one is called Behind Every Good Man and the draft is finished and with my editor! It’s the story of Beverly Diamond, a 27 year old wife to a Senator’s campaign manager in 1962. She brings cookies to the office one day and catches her husband with his secretary (and says that isn’t how you take dictation!). When he tries to blame her for being too busy with the kids, she kicks him to the curb. He tries to tell her she’ll have to downsize if she doesn’t take him back, and she decides to get a job instead. After a few failed attempts, she realizes that politics is what she knows best (her father is a retired Congressman), and she goes to the husband’s candidate’s opponent and announces that if he wants to win, she’s his new campaign manager. It’s a LOT of fun and has cameos from Marilyn and Evelyn!
Q: Where is your favorite spot or spots where you sit down and plot, write, and edit your work?
A: My FAVORITE spot is the downstairs den in my uncle’s Avalon house. He’s got an oversized, rainbow-striped, Pottery Barn chair and ottoman that’s my best writing spot. He says I’m the only one who ever sits there too, so they’d better give me that when they remodel someday!
At home, I’ve set up a comfy chair and ottoman in my little office. It’s cramped with my treadmill, but it’s a dedicated space to writing and with my airpods in and blue light glasses on, I can zone out and really work well in there.
Q: You teach English and journalism at a high school on top of being an author. How do you juggle teaching and writing? Would you ever teach creative writing since you are an author yourself?
A:I actually do teach creative writing! This year, I’m down to .6, which means I have three classes instead of five. And even luckier, they’re all writing electives. So I run the newspaper and teach journalism and creative writing.
It’s a LOT to manage and I do a lot of multitasking. I have to bring my personal laptop in case I have to answer book-related emails (if I open a manuscript on my school computer, the county can claim it as theirs). But going down to .6 has made it a lot more bearable. The creative writing kids love that I’m also a published author and it’s fun to share behind the scenes stuff because I knew NOTHING when I started!
Q: If Hollywood has/or is interested in the rights for your books, who would be your dream cast to play your characters?
A: I struggle with this question! (We’ve had some nibbles, but nothing official to report). My dream casting for Evelyn from For the Love of Friends and She’s Up to No Good would be Shirley MacLaine (I screamed when I saw she came out of retirement for Only Murders in the Building) and I’d LOVE to see either Meryl Streep or Ellen Barkin in the Ada role in Don’t Forget to Write. But beyond that, I don’t really have a dream cast.