Sally Koslow's 5 Firsts and Lasts

9780670025640_p0_v2_s260x420Our guest today: Sally Koslow Why we love her: Her writing is insightful!

Her latest: The Widow Waltz

The scoop: Georgia Waltz has things many people only dream of: a plush Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park, a Hamptons beach house, valuable jewels and art, two bright daughters, and a husband she adores, even after decades of marriage. It’s only when Ben suddenly drops dead from a massive coronary while training for the New York City Marathon that Georgia discovers her husband—a successful lawyer—has left them nearly penniless. Their wonderland was built on lies.

As the family attorney scours emptied bank accounts, Georgia must not only look for a way to support her family, she needs to face the revelation that Ben was not the perfect husband he appeared to be, just as her daughters—now ensconced back at home with secrets of their own—have to accept that they may not be returning to their lives in Paris and at Stanford subsidized by the Bank of Mom and Dad. As she uncovers hidden resilience, Georgia’s sudden midlife shift forces her to consider who she is and what she truly values. That Georgia may also find new love in the land of Spanx and stretch marks surprises everyone—most of all, her.

Our thoughts: We couldn't put it down!

Giveaway: ONE copy! Leave a comment and we'll choose a winner after 3pm PST on Sunday June 16th.

Fun Fact: Sally's experience working with at the short-lived Rosie magazine inspired her first novel, Little Pink Slips.

Where to read more about Sally: Her website, Facebook or Twitter.



First: Mark and I were 13, at summer camp in northern Wisconsin. A few times over the session the counselors would declare that after taps, there would be a “night walk.” This meant that a boy could ask you to this prom-worthy event. Mark and I strolled around the campgrounds, swatting away mosquitos and reeking of insect repellant as The Twelfth of Never and Moon River blared from the loudspeakers. He kissed me in front of the lake. The slippery tongue was a shock.

Last: This morning when my husband left for work. Robby and I met in college, and have practically grown up together. When I look at him, I see a19-year-old hippie, not a handsome man with silvery sideburns in a Hermes tie.


First: After I graduated from college I wanted a job on a magazine. Unaware that Conde Nast was the ooh-la-la of publishers, I had the audacity to apply there and landed an entry-level position at Mademoiselle. This meant moving from the Midwest to New York City. A friend who’d lived in Manhattan decided to bail, so I took her apartment, not knowing it was in a rough neighborhood, muggers right and left. The first day of work I figured out to get to the office by bus, but I had no clue how to get home. I am grateful to have been gullible enough to do these things at 21 and start what turned out to be a long, satisfying run in magazines.

Last: My agent heard me riff about the challenges of raising young adult children and suggested that I write a book about it--nobody else was reporting on this subject, and she found it interesting. I was skeptical. I saw myself as a novelist—I’d written three novels in six years, although I’d written dozens of magazine articles. Still each one of them was only about 3000 words long. Books are about 100,000 words long, and for this topic, I’d need to uncover hundreds of baby boomer parents and their drifting offspring and convince them to prattle on about frustrations, worries and disappointments. Plus I’d need to charm interview subjects to allow me to use their real names in the book. Daunting. I rose to the challenge, however, and wrote a hybrid of reporting and memoir that was published last year and has recently been released as a paperback, Slouching Toward Adulthood: How to Let Go So Your Kids Can Grow Up. The best part? NBC found the book funny and apt and has optioned it for a TV series. This is a lot like buying a lottery ticket. I am not holding my breath.

Book You Read

First: As a four- and five-year-old, I poured over my Golden Books for the pictures, because I couldn’t read. In grade school I loved the Betsy, Tacy and Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace; Peter Pan; and volume D of our encyclopedia, with its photographs of dogs as well as “Dolls of the World.” But my favorite was The Secret Garden, which wet my appetite for Jane Eyre, Rebecca and Wuthering Heights when I was a teenager.

Last: Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs is one of my year’s favorites. It fully engaged me. Nora Eldridge, the main character and “woman upstairs,” her term for what we used to call a harmless spinster, becomes beguiled by one of her third-grade students and his worldly parents. The language is rich and contemporary, at turns savagely funny and touching, and the ending broke my heart.

Hell Ya

First: I was a kid whom adults exhorted to “smile!” Hell was being forced to call my mother’s friends and ask them to buy Camp Fire Girls candy. So in ninth grade, I was terrified about having to take Speech, where a wry and gifted teacher coached us on how to address a group. To my shock, when I stood in front of the podium, a bolder me emerged--perhaps this is the way an actress feels—and I became the class star. This may be the most practical class I ever took. I’ve had little further media training, yet feel comfortable speaking in front of a group of any size or on television, which I’ve had to do extensively, both as the editor of magazines and as an author. I realized you shouldn’t make assumptions about your capabilities. Let yourself be surprised.

Last: The concept for my second novel came to me at a long funeral for a neighbor I barely knew. By the time I’d left the service, I’d decided to write a novel called The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, which begins with Molly being able to observe who attended her funeral, which I’ve always thought is a fantasy many of us share. This book went on to become a Target Book Club pick and a bestseller in Germany, which yielded my first royalty check. How do you say hell ya in German?

Aha Moment

First: I went east to college, all the way from North Dakota to Wisconsin, where students from the east coast so impressed me with their sophistication that much of the confidence I’d known as a high school student—editor of the school paper, blah blah—evaporated. Still, masochistic as it may seem, after graduation I decided to New York City and got a job at a magazine. Once I worked in that field I grew to consider my Midwestern roots as an advantage, because most magazines readers are not from Manhattan: they are women like those I knew from childhood. I also didn’t take me long to realize that while many New Yorkers have a certain amount of bluster, they are a lot less “sophisticated,” then I’d originally thought. Many can be shockingly provincial.

Last: I felt born to be a magazine editor, so much so that when I lost a great job and then another, both under circumstances that struck me as crazy and unjust, I melted into a puddle of nothing. Joining a writing workshop allowed me to channel my righteous indignation and look at my situation objectively. What I saw was funny. I, a girl from Fargo, became a top editor in New York City, only to lose her job to a batty celebrity. It’s a ridiculous plot line, even if it’s true, but with a big helping of hubris I used it to write a novel inspired by my own misfortune. This became my debut novel, Little Pink Slips. I want to puke when I hear spiritual porn like “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” but I’ve learned that no one has only career-path that plays to their strengths.

Thanks, Sally!