A graduate of the School of Journalism at Columbia University, Becky Aikman was a writer and editor for Business Week and a reporter for Newsday. She lives in New York City. She joins us today in honor of the runaway success of The Saturday Night Widows, the story of six marriages, six heartbreaks, and one shared beginning. In her forties – a widow, too young, too modern to accept the role – Becky Aikman struggled to make sense of her place in an altered world. In this transcendent and infectiously wise memoir, she explores surprising new discoveries about how people experience grief and transcend loss and, following her own remarriage, forms a group with five other young widows to test these unconventional ideas. Together, these friends summon the humor, resilience, and striving spirit essential for anyone overcoming adversity.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
The Nancy Drew series that I read as a kid. Nancy was so intrepid. She taught me not to be passive, not to wait for help, but to solve my own problems. Whenever I encounter adversity, I try to think like Nancy Drew, Girl Detective – seek out information and act on it.
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
I know it’s supposed to be a grind publicizing a book, but for me, there’s been a delightful perk: plenty of occasions to get together with all the Saturday Night Widows. The first time I gathered the six of us three years ago, I was afraid the whole idea was a big mistake. We were ridiculously different personalities, and the one thing we had in common was not the sort of thing that lights a fire under a party.
But after a year of sharing all of our adventures, not to mention a lot of laughter and a few tears, we became devoted friends. In the last few weeks, we’ve been seeing even more of each other, as the women have all been generous with their time, appearing on shows and giving interviews to help me promote the book. It’s been another round of fresh adventures, which was our goal when we formed our renegade group. And how can I be nervous when we’re clowning around together in the green room of the Katie Couric show? I recommend that all authors bring their best buddies along on book tours.
Where do you love to be?
Anyplace new. One thing I learned in the course of researching my book is that sharing new experiences with friends is one of the best ways to move forward in difficult times. That’s why we were determined that the Saturday Night Widows would take a faraway trip together, to go someplace we’d never been before. Mastering a new place, we figured, would give us the confidence to master the whole new world we were facing back home. It worked! And the hilarity when we all mounted camels in the desert was worth the entire trip.
What are the hardest and easiest things abut your job?
The hardest thing was probably organizing all of our get-togethers. Managing six people with different tastes, different personalities and busy schedules was a challenge. I think that’s a reason why it’s hard to maintain friendships in the course of the hectic lives we all lead today. There were many potential splits in the group. The girly girls, for example, were always pushing to get pampered at a spa or go shopping for lingerie together. (Hey, we were starting to date again after years of marriage – we needed whatever boost we could get.) But the active ones wanted to cook an ambitious meal or take a vigorous hike.
The easiest thing about the job? Enjoying all the fun we had once we agreed to compromise. Going outside our individual comfort zones opened everyone up, which made it easier to cope with all the serious changes we had to consider as we reinvented our lives – like reworking our relationships with families and friends, creating new homes, looking for romance again, or trying to turn those romances into a long-term relationships.
To get all that done, we knew we needed to broaden our thinking. So we took those vigorous hikes, but we wore great underwear doing it.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Get started. Stop thinking about it and sit down and write. If you can’t come up with the right idea, do some research. Think Nancy Drew.
Thanks for being here, Becky!
Get in touch with the author here:
You can find a copy of The Saturday Night Widows at: