One of the common misconceptions about the chick lit genre is that it's all shoes, designer purses and flighty twenty-somethings who have the whole career thing down but can't land the man of their dreams.
And while those elements have made their way into countless movies starring Katherine Heigl, there are countless authors who've added a little thematic heft to the genre. Case in point: Tiffany Romigh, whose new book, Elasticity just released. The story of three woman who vow to kick their addictions before their upcoming class reunion, Elasticity is not only fun and readable but leaves readers with a little food for thought, too.
So now, with no further adieu, here's a little about Tiffany in Q&A format...
First off, tell me a little about your journey as a writer. When did you know what writing wasn't going to be just a hobby but something you'd pursue seriously?
The journey, I think, can be a funny one, because there are all these little hints along the way that it’s going to be what you end up doing, but until you give it time to gel, you don’t really know. For example, I wrote stories as a child because the paper made me feel like it liked what I had to say. As my first real career as an adult, I was an advertising copywriter, because I liked to write taglines – but I still didn’t really “get it” that maybe there was something more that I could do with it.
Then suddenly, one night, I was staying in a hotel and a sentence kept running through my head. It turned out to be the beginning of a novel. And then it started.
What was the first book—or the first author—that really impressed and inspired you?
I went to a great school, especially Upper School, and our teachers really pushed books - I mean really pushed them. We read all the classics, of course, but then also had courses like “Literature of the Dispossessed” and classes where we read modern literature like Douglas Coupland’s Generation X… Very different points of view that really shaped what would become our reading lists. So it started early. I also remember reading Where the Red Fern Grows as a child and crying – so hard that I was embarrassed to go out in the yard and play badminton with my brother because it was so obvious.
But… after reading Melissa Bank’s The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, I felt like I’d found a home. It made me feel comfortable enough to put the words down the way I wanted to.
Talking Elasticity, I think we all feel pressure to reveal our best selves at our 10-year reunion, whether we were the jock, the nerd, the homecoming queen. What made you want to write about this journey and what can we learn from these characters?
I believe that we all do feel that pressure – in different ways and on different days, but it’s always there in one way or another. And I think the idea that we’d all love to go back and “show ‘em” that we’ve changed and that we’re not who they thought we were is pretty universal. But in the end, what it comes down to, and what I hope you learn from these characters is that these people from our past often aren’t really even our villains. Our villains are our negative perceptions of ourselves. Once we get out of our own way we’re pretty a-ok.
For someone who's not familiar with your writing, how would you describe it?
I hope it sounds like a personal, familiar, internal voice.
How long did it take to write Elasticity and how did you connect with your publisher?
I write pretty quickly, probably because in advertising you have to if you want to keep your job. I work on a regular 8-to-5 writing schedule, so it took me about two months to finish the major portion of the manuscript, and then another couple through editing and rewrites to get it finished. But from the time that I connected with my lit agent who sold the book, Diane Nine, to the point when it came out was another year. It can be a Sisyphean struggle going from start to finish, so I think you have to try to enjoy all the points of the process to get through it.
Tell us a little about what inspired the title. Also was the story inspired by your own life at all since we all tend to "write what we know?"
You know, finding moderation is hard. We bounce back and forth between extremes trying to find the middle, push and pull, expand and contract, all the while trying to find the things that will make us happy. We buy the car, then we run out of money and have to sell the car. We gain weight, then we do whatever we can to lose the weight - each of us has our version. But ultimately, with too many of these expansions and contractions, if we don't find our center, we'll never be happy.
The title directly relates to this and to a passage in the book about the character WHITNEY, a compulsive eater, and her love/hate relationship with her black sweatpants. After losing everything important to her she goes on a terrible binge and reaches for those sweatpants, but the waistband has had enough. It has no more elasticity and snaps.
With regard to my own life, there are lots of things in each of these characters that are inspired by my own life – not their specific afflictions, per se, but many elements both positive and negative – and there are lots of things about each of them that aren’t like me but that I admire very much.
What are you reading at the moment?
Well, I just finished Ashley Prentice Norton’s The Chocolate Money, which I loved, and now I’m knee deep in Gigi Levangie Grazer’s The After Wife. Thank goodness for digital books, because they’re so much more compact!
Where can people connect with you online?
Try me at www.TiffanyRomigh.com, or on Twitter @TiffanyRomigh, and I have a Facebook page as well – I’m not so fabulous with the social media, but I’m learning, so bear with me.
What are some of your all-time favorite books and why should someone add yours to their collection immediately?
Here are the ones I can’t be without: The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, The Last Single Girl in the World, The Starter Wife, The Importance of Being Earnest, The World According to Garp, Less than Zero… There are so many that I’m leaving out.
As for Elasticity, I think you’ll get a chance to take a journey with three characters that feel both familiar and also outsized in many ways and you’ll come out rooting for them, and by default, for yourself, too.
When you're not writing, what's your favorite way to kick back?
I take a LOT of walks. Window shop. Talk to my family. Love to cook and try new restaurants. And, if you were to look at the mileage on any car I’ve ever owned, I drive around and explore, with no destination or ending in sight.