More about Arnine:
Arnine Cumsky Weiss is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and a teacher of English as a second language. She has worked in the field of Deafness for over thirty years. She is the author of six books. BECOMING A BAR MITVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES, BECOMING A BAT MITZVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES (University of Scranton Press), THE JEWS OF SCRANTON (Arcadia Publishing), and THE UNDEFEATED (RID Press) and THE CHOICE: CONVERTS TO JUDAISM SHARE THEIR STORIES (University of Scranton Press). Her second novel, SHE AIN’T HEAVY (Academy Chicago)was published in June, 2013. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Weiss and is the mother of Matt, Allie, and Ben.
Visit Arnine’s website at www.ArnineWeiss.com.
Thanks for coming today, Arnine! I have to admit – I’m a chick lit book junkie. Why did you choose that genre?
Arnine: Sure thing. When I write I think in terms of story. It's not until I finish and go through the publishing process that I think about genre. When we (my agent and I) were looking for a publisher, we had to assign a genre and chick lit seemed to fit the bill because it's about friendship and loyalty between several women.
I remember back in the day chick lit was super hot and authors were cranking the books out for this new genre. A year down the road, publishers started labeling it women’s fiction for some odd reason. I think the genre was starting to get over saturated or there was flack against chick lit so they decided to change the genre name but I am so thrilled when I find out about a book that’s still calling itself chick lit. Do you remember when that happened and what were your thoughts are on that?
Arnine: I do remember when that happened. I can only surmise that if a book is labeled chick lit, authors and publishers might be afraid that it will be viewed as less highbrow or somehow less literary. I think as long as you have a good story and strong characters it doesn't matter what genre you label it.
Did you base your main character, Teddy, on anyone in particular or was she a product of a fantastic imagination on your part?
Arnine: When I was writing the book, I did interview a young woman who worked in Dunkin' Donuts to learn about working there. But Teddy is a product of my imagination and she also presented the greatest challenge in getting her voice right.
What about secondary characters? Would you like to introduce them to us?
Arnine: Sure. Rachel Cooper is Teddy's childhood friend who invites her to Philadelphia. Her mother, Mrs. Cooper, thinks Teddy is beneath her daughter and discourages their friendship. Billy Sullivan is the fireman who carries Rachel out after the carbon monoxide accident. And Deborah is a mentor at the university who takes Teddy under her wing.
How is your book related to 9/11?
Arnine: In the aftermath of 9/11, I was fascinated with the stories of the people who were supposed to be in the towers that morning and were not. I wondered if they realized they were given a second chance and what they did with it. Although I changed the setting from New York to Philadelphia, I kept the theme of She Ain’t Heavyabout getting a second chance.
Arnine: Spoiler Alert! One of the pivotal scenes in the book is when Teddy goes to the hospital to see Rachel and she is confronted by Mrs. Cooper, who once again forces Teddy out of her life. Even as an adult, Teddy is being rejected by this woman.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell your readers?
Arnine: I think one of the most interesting relationships in the book is between Teddy, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks, and Deborah, the mentor from the university. The dynamic between two strong women from two different worlds fascinated me. I hope I did justice to their interaction.
Leave a question or a comment for Arnine below to win a free autographed copy of her book, She Ain't Heavy!