Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Release Feature Hemingway's Girl plus Q&A w/author Erika Robuck

Q&A with Erika Robuck
New Release Feature 9-4-2012

Erika thank you for visiting with me and the members of the B&N General Fiction Forum

Debbie - First tell us a little about your new novel Hemingway’s Girl.
Erika - Hemingway’s Girl is the story of a half-Cuban young woman living in Key West in 1935 who secures a job as a housekeeper for Ernest Hemingway and his family, and becomes more involved in his personal life than she could have anticipated. As the writer’s second marriage begins to crumble, she finds herself torn between the larger than life writer and a WWI veteran and boxer building the Overseas Highway.

This is your second novel, tell us how you felt when you sold your first book.
I actually self-published my first novel, Receive Me Falling. During the querying process for that novel, many of my friends in book clubs wanted to read it. I decided to self-publish, knowing I could continue to query agents since I owned the rights to the book. Thirty book clubs later, that novel is still going strong.
When I did get an agent and a publisher for Hemingway’s Girl, however, I was overwhelmed with joy. I still get a thrill when I see email messages from my agent and editor. Traditional publishing was always my goal, and I’m honored and grateful to be where I am today.

Tell us about how you came to be an author, did you always want to write, how did it happen?
I’ve written as long as I can remember. I started with plays, poetry, and songs. In middle and high school I wrote two terrible novels and even more terrible diaries. I minored in literature in college and taught elementary school until I had my first son a decade ago. While staying home with my son I was finally able to use my free time (naptimes and bedtimes) to work on novels. I’ve been committed to the form ever since.

So far both your books are historical in nature, are you planning to always write historical novels?
I have always been drawn to the past in art, architecture, music, and literature, and I anticipate that I will always write historical fiction. I’ve been thinking about a memoir, but even that will utilize the history of Ireland. I’ve always felt a deep connection to the past, and find it both relevant to the present and important for inspiring empathy in readers.

Are you a reader, fiction or non-fiction, who are some of your favorite authors?
I love to read anything and everything, but especially historical novels. The research phase of writing is one of my favorites because I get to immerse myself in nonfiction like biographies, autobiographies, letters, and other writings on or from the past.
A. S. Byatt, Toni Morrison, Tracy Chevalier, Ian McEwan, Susan Vreeland, and Margaret Atwood are some of my favorite contemporary writers. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and the Brontes haunt me.

Do you belong to a writers group?
I do, and I don’t know how I would exist without them. First, I have two critique partners on opposite ends of the globe. Kelly McMullen lives on the west coast and writes narrative nonfiction and poetry in the style of Kerouac and DiPrima. In Prague, Jennifer Lyn King writes multi-period upmarket fiction. I exchange work with these women once a month and conference afterward by phone or Skype. I am deeply connected to them, and my work is better because of our exchanges.
I also belong to a writer “support” group of sorts called Book Pregnant. We are authors publishing in 2012 and 2013 who share the joys and heartbreaks of the journey, offer advice to each other, or just give a listening ear when one of us needs it. I am grateful for the camaraderie. 

Tell us about a normal day in the life of Erika Robuck.
This question made me smile. It’s hard to describe a normal day with three sons ranging from ages four to ten, a husband, a dog, piano lessons, hockey practice, soccer practice, and on and on.
Generally, mornings have various boys in school and others out, and trips to the park, library, grandparents’ houses, and the Annapolis city dock. Afternoons mean naptimes, coffee, and work time for me. Evenings hold homework, sports, music, dinner, and chaos.
The night waits, smiling, with decaf, darkness, classical music, and time to shape words and worlds.

You have many events planned for your release and your launch as well as others are at Barnes & Noble Bookstores-I hope you meet many fans who read about you here and good luck with the novel.
Thank you so much. It was my pleasure!
Here’s the launch information
Friday September 7th 7:00pm
Barnes & Noble
2516 Solomon’s Island Road
Annapolis, MD 21401
For a complete list of Erika’s events and signings click here buy the book here

My review of Hemingway's Girl

Hemingway’s Girl
Erika Robuck
Erika Robuck gave me a fly on the wall look not only into the great novelist Ernest Hemingway’s  personal life in Key West, but the relationships he made and broke, the ruined economy of post WWI Key West and the multi-cultural  residents who populated the area. With simple easy to read dialogue she painted a real picture of the area, the time and it’s people that was both informative and imaginative. Her protagonist Mariella Bennet was a fascinating specimen of fortitude, attitude and humility and she will long be remembered in this reader’s mind and along with her multitude of wonderful eclectic characters made this novel a definite keeper as she educated and entertained me. It’s a hard to put down read so make sure your chores are finished before you pick this one up. Know that this journey was more than worth it’s time and I’m anxious for the next place this incredible storyteller wants to take me.

It’s 1961 Key West Florida and after a day of deep sea fishing with her son Mariella learns of Papa Hemingway’s death. The news sends her back in time to 1930s Key West where the living was anything but easy, where left over depression still lingered in the Keys, in the shanty homes and the gaunt hopeless faces of it’s residents, to the year she met Papa, where only months before her own father had died. She was almost 20 the first time she met him, bigger than life and full of himself and he left an impression that never would or could die. She remembers that tumultuous year of her life and the role Hemingway and others played in it, she remembers falling in love, she remembers joy and sadness. She remembers the best and worst of times, she remembers just what Papa meant to her and she to him.

Photo by Catherine Pelura of KC Photography


  1. Great interview and review. I love historical fiction and love traveling to different times and places. Hemingway is such an iconic figure and this tale intrigues me. Thanks for sharing Deb!