Monday, August 15, 2005
Today, we have not just one girlfriend visiting our blog on the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, but two: Robin Epstein and Renée Kaplan, who collaborated on the novel Shaking Her Assets, which, according to their publisher, is "a clever and quirky debut novel featuring the adventures of a modern-day Manhattan heroine."
Their main character, Rachel Chambers, is a "New York City copywriter, collector of vintage compacts, and self-proclaimed eBay-addict" who finds herself out of a job and out of a relationship in a short span of time. She is forced to reinvent herself (and is turned into a comicbook super heroine along the way!)
Robin Epstein received her MFA from Columbia University. She has worked on sitcoms starring Joan Cusack ("What About Joan," ABC), Al Franken ("Lateline," NBC) and sold an original pilot to the Oxygen network. She is a contributor to NPR’s This American Life and is currently scripting a video game for Atari called Tycoon City: New York.
Renée Kaplan was a writer and editor for the New York Observer, before transitioning into television journalism, first as a producer for the "Charlie Rose Show" on PBS, and most recently for "60 Minutes II." Today she is a freelance television producer and writer.
Here is our cyber-interview:
--I once collaborated with a beloved friend on some choreography and it nearly ruined our friendship (but thankfully it didn't, and, ultimately, it brought us closer together.) Could you talk about your collaborative process, and how it affected you as friends and writers?
A: We were both really worried that doing something as subjective as writing together could potentially be very dangerous to the state of our friendship. Renee and I have known each other since freshman year in college, and our friendship over the years has been incredibly important to both of us. Fortunately one of the cornerstones of the friendship has been a real mutual respect for the other's intelligence and talents. And so even in the moments when we didn't agree with one another, we knew we should always take a step back and say, "wait a second, she's making this comment for a reason--and we would debate a point knowing that things were always being said to make the novel better." So generally if we hit an impasse, we knew to look for a third way around it, and generally what we'd come up with together was the best solution... And that's our story and we're sticking to it!
--A reader who posted a review of your novel on Amazon talked about her complicated relationship with chick lit as a feminist; she was happy to discover that your book has an empowering message for women. Could you say a few words about chick lit and feminism?
A: Renee and I have slightly different opinions on chick lit, but my feeling on it is this: I enjoy chick lit and consider myself a strong feminist. As far as I'm concerned, "Chick Lit" is a marketing term and shouldn't be used as a value judgment on books. Do I think some of the candy colored covers make the books look silly? Yes. But if something like that helps move the merchandise, I'd be in favor of using scratch and sniff candy covers. What I object to is the notion that a man swoops in at the end of a book and makes things perfect for the heroine. Does this happen frequently in books deemed chick lit, yes. But doesn't the same thing happen in fairy tales? And romantic comedies? And, for that matter, all comedy in Shakespeare's cannon? Yes, yes & yes. So I'm happy to consider myself a writer of chick lit... after all, chicks are the only people buying books these days anyway!
--How did the comic book aspect of the novel come about? Are either of you graphic novel fans?
A: Interestingly, neither one of us is a big graphic novel/comic book fan. But one of the main characters in our novel is an art director who draws comic characters on the side, so as we were mapping out his character, we thought, "hey, wouldn't it be cool to include some of his art in the book?"
--I always have to ask a fruit-related question: What do you think is the most ass(et)-shaking fruit around?
A: Melons immediately come to mind... but since our heroine's drink of choice is the vodka gimlet (and since vodka itself isn't a fruit), I think the vibrant lime has to be the answer!
Thanks so much, Robin and Renee! I wish you and your book all the best!