Monday, October 15, 2012

Ann Pearlman, A Gift for My Sister

AUTHOR: Ann Pearlman
BOOK TITLE: A Gift for My Sister
PUBLISHER:  Emily Bestler, Atria, Simon and Schuster

Please tell us about yourself? 

Seven of the books that I have written have been published; these are both fiction, and non-fiction books.  Infidelity was nominated for a Pulitzer and made into a Lifetime Movie.  The Christmas Cookie Club was translated into 6 languages and became an international bestseller. A Gift for My Sister my second novel, hit the stands in the U.S in the spring of 2012 to wonderful reviews.

I was born in Washington D.C. and, as a child, moved around several Midwestern cities, most notably Chicago and Pittsburgh. After moving to Cleveland, Toronto, Cincinnati,  and Kalamazoo, I settled in Ann Arbor, where The Christmas Cookie Club is set. I received a graduate degree in Clinical Social Work and maintain a private psychotherapy practice in Ann Arbor. I studied writing at the University of Michigan, attended workshops at Sewanee and Squaw Valley Writers’ Conferences.

Tell us your latest news?
Terri Guilano Long , bestselling Indie author of Leah’s Wake and I did a big event called BestSeller’s Sandbox, Where Traditional meets Indie.  At the end of September, there was a twitter chat, a radio interview, a Google doc where people will ask questions, and guest blogs.  You can see how the event went on our websites.  It was great fun doing this event with her and I learned a lot about Indie publishing.   Terri and I have a lot in common.
Here’s a link if you want to get a sense of the event:

When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in eighth grade when we were asked to describe a painting of two little girls playing on the beach.  As I wrote about the sea, I was surrounded by awe, as if taking dictation from the universe. Since then, I’ve been hooked. That feeling, and the sense that when you’re writing you’re giving something authentic to others propel me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know.  I’ve been writing since I was in eighth grade, but for years it was something I squeezed in between kids and a psychotherapy practice.   Maybe when I went on my first book tour. Maybe when my first novel was published, which was The Christmas Cookie Club.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Horniness and pent up sexual curiosity. Yep, I wrote romantic novels as a teenager trying to figure out about sex. None of those are published.  I wrote Getting Free with two colleagues from my psychotherapy practice. It was our way to give back and share everything we’d learned from our clients.  That book became a college textbook.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. A Gift for My Sister is about understanding and forgiveness within a family and the acceptance and love for family regardless of differences in race, or life style.  It is also about endurance and helping each other through hard times.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
Yes.   Charlene in Christmas Cookie Club was based on a friend and a heartbreaking incident in her life. I showed her what I wrote when it was still in a draft stage and made certain it felt all right with her. She thanked me very much for what I wrote, the part I had fictionalized ended up being especially meaningful. Then she asked me to include a story from her life that no one else knew.  Of course, I did. I acknowledged her and the truth in the fiction.  Other spectacular things happened for her as a result of this. Her wonderful personality, my love and regard were evident writing and the way we both handled the situation brought us closer. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I'm a promiscuous reader and have been since I was a kid. There are so many books that have enriched my life, so many authors who were there for me when I needed them. It's difficult to pick one without a bunch of others shouting, "What about me?" and "What about me?" Each book is a door into another world and another mind. Each book represents the great diversity of our fascinations and sensibilities. Nevertheless:
Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, David Mitchell, William Styron, Julian Barnes

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
 I’m reading Swerve and it is a book for the book club I’m part of.  I’m fascinated by the influence of a book centuries after it was written.  I’m also wondering what will happen to books a thousand years from now as we switch to digital and current popularity. I wonder what will be lost.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I am a huge fan of David Mitchell who wrote Cloud Atlas. I love how much he was able to say about humanity by skipping through centuries. I hope the movie captures his message.  

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?
I spent many years squeezing writing in between working as a psychotherapist and raising three children. Each moment was precious. That sense has stayed with me. Occasionally, when I’m stuck, I play my drums or dance and that usually helps me evolve my next scene.   I also stick to a consistent and rather rigid schedule.  I write from 8-12 Monday-Friday. It’s my refuge and my space.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
When I’m not writing, I make metal sculptures, acrylic and watercolor paintings, jewelry, and altered books. I try to do that a few afternoons a week.  I also love to dance to a wide assortment of music (blues, rock, rap, and classical) and work out( yoga, aerobic dance, lift weights, walk, swim.) And hang out with family and friends.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write because you love it and it feels meaningful to you.  Take a few hours a day to write and make it sacred.

We’re told to write what we know and we know our own lives best, yet distilling what the STORY is in our lives that may be interesting to others is not easy. So much of what we experience is exquisite because it’s ours: our baby’s first smile, falling in love, the death of a dear friend. Making that have universal appeal requires digging deep and ferreting telling detail and language.

It’s hard for everyone to get published. Especially women. So don’t take it personal and don’t give up!

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

Emily Bestler Books, Atria, Simon and Schuster.
My agent, Peter Miller at Global Lion sold a three book deal : A Christmas Cookie Club, A Gift For My Sister,  and The Christmas Cookie Cookbook.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Synopsis of A Gift for My Sister:
 A Gift For My Sister, is a fast paced, riveting page turner that poses the larger questions of where did I come from, how did I become me, and how do we form a family.  Set in a backdrop as vast as a continent, and diverse as plush beach condos, inner city Detroit, and exhilarating rap concerts, it’s a tale told by two fatherless daughters struggling with family curses, eccentric luck, and the complicated multiculturalism that is hallmark of our era.
Sky, obedient and cautious, has worked hard to build her dream life. In her ideal job as a lawyer and married to handsome Troy, they live with their three-year-old daughter, Rachel, in a house on the beach.  Younger sister, Tara, rebellious and impetuous, has fallen in love with the irresistible Aaron, become pregnant in high school, and embarked on a rollercoaster life as a musician.  But when tragedy besets Sky, her world is turned upside down. Amazingly, Tara and Aaron and their rap crew, instead of facing a future destined to be foolhardy and risky, are on the brink of fame.  With this astonishing reversal of fortune, Tara offers to help Sky start over and move home. On the road trip tensions between the two sisters erupt, loyalties are tested and long hidden secrets revealed.  The journey they embark on forces each woman to take a walk in the other’s shoes and examine what sisterhood, and family means to them.


  1. Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest. Your blog and presentation is beautiful and warm. Looking forward to meeting some of your readers. Ann Pearlman

  2. Ann, it's a pleasure to have you here.