Erika Robuck was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. Her novel, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, is scheduled for publication on September 4th, 2012 by NAL/Penguin, and CALL ME ZELDA will follow in 2013. Erika is a contributor to popular fiction blog Writer Unboxed and maintains her own historical fiction blog called Muse. She is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, The Hemingway Society, and The Historical Novel Society. She spends her time on the East Coast with her husband and three sons.
A little about HEMINGWAY’S GIRL:
HEMINGWAY’S GIRL is set in Depression-era Key West, and tells the story of a maid working in Ernest Hemingway’s house, torn between her infatuation with the famous writer and his lifestyle, and a World War I veteran and boxer building the Overseas Highway. To learn about Erika’s inspiration for writing the novel, and a private tour of Hemingway’s house and writing studio in Key West, click here to watch the book trailer.
Tell us about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
There is so much that is making me happy right now, but what is really making me glow are messages of encouragement and praise from past readers, present readers, other writers, friends, and family. The process of getting an agent and a publisher is grueling. (There, I said it.) It took me ten years, and there were many times I questioned why I was subjecting myself to so much rejection. Every time I got really low, I shook off the upset and pushed forward, but it was largely a lonely and unfulfilling process.
Now that I finally have a wonderful agent and fantastic publisher, I am overwhelmed daily by the flood of well-wishes and support from both my professional contacts and my personal contacts. It is something I never could have foreseen, and I wish I knew in the dark days of rejection that all of this was coming. Honestly, though, looking back, I can see the value of the trials. They have made these achievements so much sweeter, and I’m so much more thankful every day for the blessing of this time in my life.
What’s your next big thing?
My next novel with NAL/Penguin is CALL ME ZELDA, the story of life “after the party” for Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It begins in 1932 on the bitter, winter morning when Zelda was admitted to the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins, and follows the Fitzgeralds as they attempt to make a normal life in Baltimore. Told from the perspective of a nurse caring for Zelda, and taking place in swinging speakeasies, underground crypts in churches, haunted houses, rain-soaked Bermuda beaches, and under the ivy-covered arches of Princeton, CALL ME ZELDA explores the bonds of female friendship and the kind of love worth dying for.
What is the best perk of your job?
By far, the best perks of my job are that reading and traveling are major requirements for writing historical fiction. I buy books by the dozen and pour through countless biographies, memoirs, letters, and writings. Every once in awhile I’ll glance around at the piles of things in my home that need tidied, and feel guilty about having my nose in a book all the time. But then I’ll remind myself that reading is part of my work, which is my first priority outside of food and shelter for my family.
Travel is also a major perk, particularly when I pick fabulous places like Key West to set my novels. Three times now I’ve had to solemnly inform my husband that we have to go back to Key West for more Hemingway research—boating, bar hopping, beach bumming, house touring. It really is exhausting. 😉
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
Yes, I once attended a reading by author Tracy Chevalier, author of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING. I was completely idol-struck, and could barely put a sentence together when it was my turn for her to sign my book. I wanted to tell her that her novel about Vermeer was given to me by my beloved grandmother who died ten years ago; that her writing inspired my deep love of historical fiction and my career path; that her prose is so beautiful that I often return to my bookshelf to read it aloud when I’m stuck in my work. All I could manage was something like this: “Picture? Please? Erika with a ‘k.’”
Do you have a regular ‘first reader’? If so, who is it and why that person?
For HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, my first reader was always my critique partner, Kelly McMullen. Kelly is a poet and author of narrative nonfiction living in California, whom I’ve known since childhood. Our friendship began in middle school with a book club of sorts. We were both addicted to V C Andrews novels, and snuck reading them in the back of our Catholic School English class until our teacher caught us and told us to never bring that trash back to school. We’ve been friends ever since.
Find Erika online:
Find HEMINGWAY’S GIRL at Amazon.com or at your local bookstore!
Thank you so much, Erika, for joining us here at The Debutante Ball! We wish you and HEMINGWAY’S GIRL great success!
Erika has offered to send a copy of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL to one of our lucky commenters (U.S. mailing addresses only)! For a chance to win HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, leave a comment telling us something that’s making YOU happy right now!