An Interview with Author Nina Solomon by Greg (VOSTROMO)
NINA SOLOMON is a die-hard New Yorker, Columbia graduate, BFF to our previous Vostrinterview subject Elizabeth Crane, could stand to snack on some Entenmann’s from time to time (just saying), and I don’t trust her mother. She is the subject of one of my more potentially embarrassing male moments, which affords me a great story when people ply me with frozen margaritas, and what makes it even better is I’m not completely sure she knows what I’m referring to. Her debut novel SINGLE WIFE was a Literary Guild, Book-of-the-Month Club and QPB selection, and was praised by Elle as having “both flair and heart” — which pretty much describes her too. Only skinnier. Her new novel THE LOVE BOOK will be published in January by Kaylie Jones / Akashic Books. More at ninasolomonbooks.com.
VOSTROMO: Welcome, Nina, and thanks for spending some time with us. Reading through the press materials for your new novel The Love Book I was struck by an incident you relate where an admirer “began showering me with pastries.” I’m wondering: where did this take place, and do you think he’s still there? What kind of pastries were these? cheese danish? coffee cake? muffins? were they muffins? were the muffins iced? buttercreme, or the cheap stuff? Did you eat them all? If you did, did you gain any weight?
NINA SOLOMON: Did I eat them all? Did I eat them all? I thought you knew me better than that. I have never been known to leave a dessert unfinished, unless it’s laced with rum, which makes me nauseous. The pastry-plying admirer was the guard at my son’s school, but on the side he studied at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA) and besides fancy pastries like mille-feuille, Napoleons, almond croissants, he used to bring me entire cakes. Did I gain weight? No, not an ounce.
V: Also in the kit are references to finding a kitten in a grocery store and a man’s mock marriage proposal in a supermarket; your acknowledgments mention a friend’s saffron risotto; and in the novel itself one character is moved to ask “Are there any pizza bagels left?” while another stops at a deli for cookies on her way home. Indeed, of the thirty-four chapters comprising The Love Book, thirty-four of them have some type of eating and drinking. Given this focus on the notion of love as food for the soul, a question: how do you stay so thin?
NS: I only gain weight during football season when Edy’s makes Touchdown Sundae ice cream.
V: Your first book Single Wife is shaped by the structural outlines of the mystery novel, while The Love Book begins as a classic winding road trip. Given this appreciation of genre contours, tell us a bit about your own exercise regimen and how you maintain that youthful, girlish figure.
NS: Thank you, V, no other reviewer has ever asked me that. My mother, whom you do not trust, once saw me reaching for a second piece of fudge and said, “Don’t ruin your boyish figure.” You can’t both be right. I guess I respond to shaming. The “friend” who makes the amazing saffron risotto is also an exercise fiend and gets me to climb one hundred flights of stairs every day by telling me that if I don’t, I’ll start responding to “Lard-ass.” I think he’s also a bit of a sadist. He calls me a sugar smack head, then brings home three half-gallons of Edy’s Touchdown Sundae and a two-by-four mega Toblerone bar. A few days later he’ll innocently ask me where the ice cream went. You have to be fast around here.
V: You’ve been quite open about the inspiration behind The Love Book, namely your own experience looking for new romance after the end of your marriage. You describe finding a real-life “love book” and following its methods to a happily fruitful outcome. Given that dining out is a universal aspect of dating, and that your current boyfriend is French — we know ze French love ze gastronomie — can you offer our readers any advice from your own journey on staying slender while on the market?
NS: Staying slender while I was on the market was easy. There was no one to cook for me.
V: A major theme underlying much of Western literature is the quest for personal value — identity, place, purpose — outside of that set and defined by social expectation. In both Single Wife and The Love Book a woman revises and expands her sense of self beyond being wife, mother, object of male attention. Would you say that one’s inner journey burns as many calories as jogging, or spin class? Is carrying emotional baggage as effective as free weights?
NS: From personal experience, I would say that emotional baggage is at least as effective at burning calories as sleep.
V: We’ve mentioned that you are very close friends with Betsy Crane, herself a successful author. How’s Betsy’s weight these days?
NS: Betsy is successful and svelte. She recently suggested I begin calculating points. I’ve found it a useful tool to help moderate my intake of food. As Oprah says, nothing tastes as good as thin feels! Did you know that one cup of premium Edy’s Touchdown Sundae ice cream is only 20 points? That leaves me 6 points to splurge on rainbow sprinkles (and it’s not even noon)!
V: You’re on the faculty of Wilkes University — on their website is a “Healthy Dorm Cookbook” which I have to tell you is awesome. Which do you prefer, the Apple Sandwiches or the Curried Tuna Salad, and which would you say is more effective at losing the “freshman fifteen?”
NS: Apple Sandwiches? Really? There’s a recipe for that? The good news is that a 16 Handles has recently opened in beautiful Wilkes-Barre. They have a totally awesome non-fat, sugar-free frozen yogurt. If you only add twelve ounces of caramel and sprinkles, you’ll be beach body ready before long.
V: Finally, I too am slender — why haven’t I been published?
NS: I just calculated your BMI — it’s a gift — and determined that you are indeed at your ideal weight! It shouldn’t be long before you too have a book deal and then I’ll be interviewing you. Only better.
Nina Solomon has generously offered a brand new trade-size paperback copy of her new book The Love Book, to a member who comments on the blog. Winner will be chosen at random, Friday, December 19, 2014 at 12 noon EST.
Thanks to Vostromo for another valiant attempt to grapple with the definition of “interview” and to Nina Solomon for playing along.