A talk with Sunny and Dana, the heroines of Shirley’s books
When fellow author Vicky Burkholder invited me to guest post, I asked two of my main characters to join me. They didn’t seem all that eager.
“What’s the problem?” I’d been wrestling with words all day. Who needs moodiness from my imaginary beings?
“Isn’t this a tad weird?” Sunny’s voice was taut with attitude.
“Weird? How?” Dana asked.
“We’re characters in books and we’re chatting as if we’re real people.”
“Not so odd.” Dana scratched a mosquito bite. “We’re friends in the books. By the way, my trip to Florida was great. Except for a few mosquito bites.”
“Don’t say anything about who you went with on vacation,” Sunny said. “We don’t want any spoilers. Not everyone has read your book.” She gave Dana a stern look.
“It’s not my book,” Dana said. “It’s Shirley’s book.”
“Don’t quibble,” I said. As if they’d listen to me.
“I guess we should introduce ourselves. I’m Sunny Chanel, the main character in Middle Ageish, Shirley’s first novel.
“I’m Dana, Sunny’s BFF in her book.”
“You have your own book now, though. How do you feel about that?”
“You sound like my therapist.”
“The two of you bicker inside my head all day long,” I interrupted. “It’s unnerving.”
“I’m the one with a therapist, not you.” Sunny stepped around me to confront Dana.
“Remember, no spoilers,” Dana chided.
“Sorry.” Sunny looked embarrassed. “Aren’t we supposed to be introducing Shirley?”
“You start.” Dana gestured with her chin. “Give the readers a heads-up about her background. Why she wrote the book.”
“I’ve always wondered myself.” Sunny looked at me. “You did a lot of online dating and took notes in the ladies room, didn’t you? When you were on a meet.”
“I’ll admit it.” I put my hands up in surrender. My dirty little secret was out. At least they weren’t bickering.
“Let me get this straight. You’re on a date. You excuse yourself to go to the restroom. And take notes in the toilet stall? Seriously?”
“Pretty much,” I said.
“It’s true,” Sunny said. “You wouldn’t believe how many guys I had to do the ole meet-and-greet with to keep the story moving forward. Shirley planned it all in the restroom.” She gave a little sneer. “How romantic.”
“I don’t write books in the toilet,” I protested. “Notes. I took a few notes.
“We’ve all heard the advice writers get.” Sunny fixed me with a look that said I wasn’t getting away with anything. “Write about what you know.”
“So I’ve heard,” Dana said. “We’re getting off track here. The book is about starting over. Not so easy when you’re a little older. Shirley knows because she started over. She was living in Crete, teaching English. She and her husband ended their marriage.
“Right, sorry about my tirade,” Sunny said. “Shirley moved back to Connecticut and started over.
“We met when you moved from Paris to New Haven and enrolled in the grad program.” Dana crossed her legs and scratched her mosquito bites again. “Just like Shirley.”
“Are you saying the book is autobiographical?” Dana asked Sunny.
“Ask Shirley,” Sunny said. “I think all writing is somewhat autobiographical.”
“My marriage was circling the drain.” No point in denying the similarities in the book to my own life. “Look, relationships aren’t easy. It’s a wonder two people come together, much less stay together.”
“In Middle Ageish, I issue the dating challenge that starts the ball rolling,” Sunny said.
“I made up that dating contest,” I said.
“Yeah, probably after three glasses of wine.” Sunny looked around the living room. “I could use a glass of wine.”
“Hey.” Dana poked Sunny in the arm. “We’re guests here.”
Sunny gave Dana a look. “Shirley forced me to date. A lot. And broke my heart.”
“No spoilers!” I’d had it up to my eyelashes with my characters. Especially Sunny.
“Dana, you’re the heroine in Eat Your Heart Out. Can you say a little something about––”
“Friendship,” said Dana. “Women. Men. Two foodies. We sauté together, banter, and dance around each other. There’s some serious stuff too. A few issues.”
“Shirley said she writes to make readers laugh,” said Sunny.
They exchanged a knowing look.
“I’d second that emotion, don’t you agree?” Dana looked proud of her song-quoting skills.
The three of us burst out giggling.
Blurb for Eat Your Heart Out
When a tyrant in stilettos replaces her beloved boss, and her ex snags her coveted job, teacher Dana Narvana discovers there are worse things than getting dumped on Facebook. Even at her age. Time for the BFF advice squad, starting with Dana’s staunchest ally, Alex. Hunky colleague, quipster, and cooking pal extraordinaire. But when the after hours smooching goes nowhere, she wonders why this grown man won’t make up his mind.
Actor turned teacher Alex Bethany craves a family of his own and his new lifestyle gives him the confidence to try online dating. Meanwhile he’s sending Dana mixed messages in the kissing department. After a surprising event rocks his world, Alex panics, certain he’s blown his chances with his special person. From appetizers to the main course will these two cooking buddies make it to dessert?
Funny and bittersweet, Dana and Alex’s story will have you rooting for them all the way to dessert.
About the Author
Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look at living single and dating in mid life. Shirley is the author of two rom coms. Eat Your Heart Out and Middle Ageish, both in the series Starting Over. Shirley’s friends nag her to tell them which stories are true in her novels. Her characters believe you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.
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