Unreasonable Doubts: A Novel by Reyna Marder Gentin
1- How's next season looking for the New York Mets, in your opinion?
As a true Mets fan, I will tell you that the Mets will undoubtedly win the World Series in 2019. But more honestly, they have a lot of talent and you never know how far it will take them if their players can stay off the disabled list.
2- How often have people said you look like actress Justine Bateman?
Gotta find more fans of Family Ties or Men Behaving Badly.
3- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Never let anyone tell you that you need to learn how before you write. Get feedback and take it to heart, especially about voice and tone and pacing, but be your own final judge and best advocate.
4- What ignited your passion for writing?
I have always loved to write, from my high school days on the newspaper to philosophy essays in college to my appellate briefs. But what really got my pulse racing was the first time a creative piece – a non-fiction personal essay about my mom – got published on the Internet. Being able to share with readers and interact made all the difference.
5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
@reynagentin. Please shout out to @jiminhanwriter and @lianecarter
6- Would you share a picture with us of your book somewhere in New York?
My book has not been released yet, so it hasn’t really gotten out and about in New York! I hope to soon have pictures of my book in different exciting locales around the world soon!
7- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?
I have a draft of a middle grade novel that I am shopping around now. My next project is a new novel, tentatively entitled Both Are True.
8- How did working as an appellate attorney representing criminal defendants help you write this book?
In lots of ways! First of all, the legal issues in the novel were inspired by a case that I handled as an appellate attorney. I strived very hard in the novel to have all the legal aspects be accurate so that attorneys reading the book would not say, “hey, that would never happen in real life!” The protagonist, Liana Cohen, is a young public defender who has become disillusioned with the mission of the public defender’s office and the clientele. Although I didn’t ever get to that point, representing indigent defendants charged with the most serious felonies and facing decades in prison is extremely challenging work and can be demoralizing at times. I think I was able to portray that effectively because I had lived it.
9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
Author name: @williamlanday
Title: Defending Jacob
Love because: I loved the intensity of this book and the way the author raised the most sensitive and critical issues about parenting and loyalty and good and evil in a seemingly placid suburban setting.
10- In your opinion, how could people best prepare for later in life, such as making choices while still "middle-aged" so their adult children don't later have to make tough calls on their behalf?
Wow – I think you’ve read some of my personal essays! I guess my best advice would be to always keep the lines of communication open. No topic should be off limits, and if something is genuinely important to you, you should let those around you know so that your wishes can be carried out.
11- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
I would have to say honestly that my husband is my biggest fan at this point! (In fairness, because the book is not out yet, this is a limited pool!) I think he genuinely loves the writing and the way I express myself, but even more so, I think he loves that I put myself out there and did something bold and new and out of my comfort zone.
12- If you could say one more thing to your mom, what would it be?
My mother and I were very close (as she was with my two sisters as well). We spoke every day, sometimes more than once, and I have no regrets about not saying any particular thing to her. But I would certainly give anything just to be with her again. I remember my rabbi who has since passed away himself saying to me, “it never really gets easier, does it?” and the answer is no, it doesn’t.
13- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
I hope that people will have empathy for Liana and the very difficult things she has to go through on her way to figuring out whom she can trust and learning what she wants out of her relationships and her career. I think the book has moments of real joy and real sorrow and real triumph, and I hope readers will relate to those moments. I think there are many scenes that will resonate with readers – I think many people will relate to the times when Liana loses her cool out of an excess of confused emotions – everyone has times when they wish they could really say what they think at work or with loved ones, and Liana speaks her mind.
14- Were you and your husband both involved in Orchestra, and if so, what did you two play?
Ha! Yes, we were in the same high school orchestra. I was a very run of the mill violinist, and my husband was an excellent cellist.
15- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?
I have spent the last four years studying different aspects of writing at the Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College. I have learned a tremendous amount from my teachers and fellow workshop participants.
16- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
Danny Shea’s tiny ladybug tattoo, right above his heart.
17- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? https://diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
The protagonist is a woman, and this is very much a story of how one woman chooses to take control of the things in her life that she can control, and let go of those she can’t. Another diverse character in the book is Gerry, Liana’s boss, who is gay and in a committed relationship. Although he and Liana have their differences in approach, Gerry is the character in the novel most devoted to the mission of the Public Defender’s Office and most concerned with protecting the rights of the indigent clients.
18- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?
Danny Shea is vulnerable yet outwardly self-assured.
19-Does your book hold a mirror up to society, and in what way?
The book raises a number of issues that are hot-button issues in society today, although it does not offer any simple answers – just hopefully starts a discussion. The main character is, like many millennials, distanced from her faith. Through a friendship she develops with a rabbi, she becomes more open in learning about how Judaism may speak to issues she is grappling with her life, such as her relationships and her indecision about her job. I think this poses a question regarding how young people might become engaged with their religious communities in a way that recognizes that they need to opt in – that for most young people, religious observance and community involvement is no longer something they have “inherited” from their parents.
20- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?
I think authors and readers would be greatly benefited by more flexibility in the publishing industry – more different business models that allow people who don’t have an established platform to break in and share their talent with the world.
21- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?
A personal recommendation from a trusted friend.
22- Who is your favorite book review blogger?
I’m very up on Sandy Fluck at Bookscover2cover.
23- How will you measure your publishing performance?
I am honestly enjoying the ride and every aspect of getting my book out there. This is a second career for me and an extremely exciting time in my life that I’ve worked very hard for, but which I never expected. I consider my performance a success already.
24- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I had worked with an editor as well as workshopped the book for quite a while and I felt it was in very good shape. I was excited to work with a small press that would allow me to have maximum control over the content, as well as over the cover, title, etc. I also was intrigued by working with a publisher that publishes women writers almost exclusively, which allowed me to develop professional relationships with other emerging women writers.
25- What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?
I am still very new to the marketing aspect of this. I think I got very good exposure by doing give-aways on both blogs and Goodreads – whether that will translate into sales will have to be seen.
26- What is one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
I would love to know what your readers think about choosing a book that crosses genres, something that I think limited me in finding a larger publishing opportunity – Unreasonable Doubts is part legal thriller, part love story, and is also categorized under Jewish fiction. Is it a plus or minus to be in a number of different categories?
27- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
REYNA MARDER GENTIN grew up in Great Neck, New York. She attended college and law school at Yale. For many years, she practiced as an appellate attorney representing criminal defendants who could not afford private counsel. Reyna studies at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and her fiction and personal essays have been published in The Westchester Review and online. She lives with her family in Scarsdale, New York. To learn more, please visit reynamardergentin.com.
"An intriguing blend of romance and legal suspense from a new writer to watch.” —WILLIAM LANDAY, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob
“...not only intelligent, but deeply moving. She knows the law and she knows her characters. Well done!” —SUSAN ISAACS, author of Compromising Positions, After All These Years, and As Husbands Go
“Fans of Allison Leotta and Lisa Scottoline will appreciate the domestic and romantic elements as well as the legal intrigue.” —BOOKLIST
Unreasonable Doubts: A Novel by Reyna Marder Gentin