By Estelle Erasmus
I have known journalist, essayist and author, Judith Newman for many years, from back in my magazine publishing days, and have always admired her humor, strong writing and journalism skills, and breadth of career. She recently wrote an amazing piece for Modern Love. I interviewed Judith for the podcast, ASJA Direct: Inside Intel on Getting Published and Paid Well. Here is the link to the page where you can download it.
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Here is Judith’s bio
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Newman
Judith Newmanis the author of the bestseller To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines,a collection of illuminating stories about life with fourteen-year-old boy with autism. The New York Times called it “an uncommonly riotous and moving book…with whipsaws of brilliant zingers and heart punches.” The Washington Post called Newman “a gifted personal essayist, her warmth and wit recalling Nora Ephron’s.” Previous books include You Make Me Feel Like An Unnatural Woman: Diary of a New (Old) Mother, about her adventures in the world of infertility.
In addition to books and personal essays, Judith writes for magazines about entertainment, science, business, beauty, health, and popular culture. Her work and celebrity interviews are featured in a variety of publications from The New York Times and Vanity FairtoPrevention, AARP, andNational Geographic. She regularly reviews books for Peopleand the Times,and writes the “Help Desk” column in The New York Times Book Review. She is a contributing editor for Allureand Prevention, and has been widely anthologized. She joins Vladimir Nabokov and Philip Roth in never having won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her awards do, however, include the coveted FiFi for distinguished work in perfume journalism.
Judith graduated from Wesleyan University and has a Masters in Literature from Columbia. She lives in New York City with her twin sons and a lot of chaos.
In the podcast, soon to be found here, Judith covered:
*Her career as a journalist.
*Some of the stories she is proudest of, and why.
*What she covers as a columnist for the NYT Sunday Book Review.
*What she thinks the biggest challenges that journalists face today
*Her path to publication of her latest book
*The surprising vitriol she has received from the autism community and how she has handled it.
*Advice for writers who aspire to have a career like hers.
*What is next for her—and Gus.
She also answered some questions for this site, with a humorous glimpse into her life as a writer.
Erasmus: What do you read every day?
Newman: Alas, the news, the news, the news. Then I read more news. Then I despair and play 500 games of Words With Friends.
Erasmus: What is the last book you read that you loved? Why?
Newman: Can I list two? Meg Wolitzer’s “Feminist Persuasion,” which is about, well, many things, but partially about mentorship and the role powerful women can play in younger women’s lives. Doesn’t that sound like a snooze? It is very much not a snooze. Wolitzer is a great storyteller, and also deeply funny. I have also loved “The Trauma Cleaner,” which is a book that just came out and isn’t getting the attention it deserves. On the one hand, it is a biography of a woman who cleans up the houses of people whose lives have gone horribly wrong — hoarders, murders, suicides, etc. On the other, since this woman is transgender and had the most appalling childhood, it is also about the deep conviction that sometimes, changing the outside can help heal the inside. I just thought it was fascinating.
Erasmus: What is your writing process?
Newman: I refer you to William Faulker (at least I think it was William Faulker): “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” Translation: Don’t wait. Just get up and do it. Most of it will be crap. Do it anyway. Though I will say unequivocally that the only time I have a good lede for any story is when I take a shower.
Erasmus: If your life was a television show, what would you call it?
Newman: Tragedy + Time = Comedy. That’s not the world’s catchiest title, is it? I’m having a hard time hearing the theme song.
Erasmus: What is your favorite movie and why?
Newman: Impossible to say. That changes with the day and mood. Right now Double Indemnity and Manhattan are in heavy rotation. Mariel Hemingway’s last line in Manhattan. “You have to have a little faith in people.” Slays me every time.
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