A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

A Conversation with Marcy Dermansky, Author of Newly Released Novel “The Red Car”

August 19, 2017

I had the opportunity to interview Marcy Dermansky, author of newly released novel The Red Car. Here are some highlights.

Do you write for others because you have to write or for yourself only?

I write to get published. But when I am actually writing, the words coming from my fingers onto the keyboard, it is all for me. What I am thinking about, what pleases me, what works for the story I am telling. With my new novel – The Red Car – I wrote it because I needed to read it. Fortunately, other readers felt the same way.

How many days do you actually write, and how rigid you are about that schedule?

I would love to write every day, but I don’t. But when I am in the middle of a book, in a true writing mindset, I try to write every morning, first thing before the rest of the world interferes. But I forgive myself if I don’t.

While writing, what kind of relationship do you often form with your own writing self – a painful or a joyful one?

Joyful. I actually love to write — though I often agonize before I start.

How do you recognize if you are on the wrong track?

I stop enjoying myself when I am on the wrong track; I know that something isn’t working. And when that happens, I go backwards into the book, reading what I have already written and then revise, until I am on the right track again.

Are you affected by other people’s appraisal of your work? Have you ever been hurt by them?

Of course, I love good reviews.  I have also gotten bad ones, mainly arbitrary seeming assessments on Goodreads and Amazon. I mainly laugh them off. Or I may utter a profanity to my computer screen, but this anger doesn’t last long. I have The New York Times review of The Red Car hanging up on my closet wall, to remind myself that it happened, that I am a successful writer.

Do you feel you and the characters in your books have always been well understood by your readers?

I do. If my readers didn’t connect with my characters – with Leah (The Red Car)who gets on a plane and leaves her husband, and Marie (Bad Marie) who also gets on a plane, in her case with another woman’s husband and a child – they would not connect with my books. Of course, I also have the occasional reader who don’t find these women sympathetic and I am strangely surprised by this, because I sympathize with them like crazy.  

Do you lose yourself in your writing? The very fact that writing is a very lonely art, do you sometimes feel lonely?

I love losing myself in my writing, having the story almost create itself on its own, characters saying things and doing things that surprise me.

Sometimes, when I don’t want to write – and maybe being lonely is part of this – I pack up my laptop and go across the street to work in a café. It is distracting in the café, people are talking, they come with kids and their dogs, too. I don’t always get the best table, I spend money on coffee that I do not even want, I have to make conversation with the people that work there, etc.,  but once I am settled in, I start to write. Thank you, café.

What books are currently on your book stand?

American Fire, by Monica Hesse.

There’s Something I Want You To Do, Charles Baxter

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

I desperately need to read those Elena Ferrante novels. I know this.

What do you plan to read next?

Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman and A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause by Shawn Wen. The three of us are doing an event together to celebrate the release of our paperbacks.

Which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

No big surprises. If I had self-help books I didn’t want anyone to know about, I perhaps would not admit to owning them. I took the Marie Kondo tidying up book out of the library. It was useful.

What is next for Marcy Dermansky and what would be next for Marcy Dermansky if the sky were the limit?

The paperback edition of The Red Car is dropping on September 12, 2017 and I am very excited about that. It has a gorgeous new cover and I am hoping many new readers discover the book. I also have a new short story appearing in Lenny Letter, and yes, I am working on a new novel. Sky is the limit: film adaptations of The Red Car and Bad Marie. Fingers crossed.

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