Em’s Awful Good Fortune follows a “tagalong wife” ex-pat who travels the world with her husband and is on a journey of self-discovery to find her own voice in the world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Em’s Awful Good Fortune is the book I wanted to read, but couldn’t find, when I was living overseas. Most expat books are travelogues that focus on cultural exchange, language mishaps and strange food. I’m more interested in women’s issues. Having been a “tagalong wife,” I was able to use the international lifestyle as a backdrop for a different kind of story—what happens in a modern marriage when dual careers collide? I’m particularly interested in the imbalance that still exists between men and women, where women tend to do more than their share of multi-tasking and compromise.
Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?
Em’s story is grounded in lived experience, which is why the book has such an authentic, raw feel to it. That said, the characters are composites and extremes through which I explored Em’s basic dilemma: how can she make her marriage work if her own life doesn’t work.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Having lived in China during a catastrophic air pollution event, I initially set out to write about the real cost of rapid growth and industrialization on personal health and safety. But then, Em had a lot to say about marriage and compromise. And when I peeled back the layers to Em’s character, the issue of PTSD kept coming up. ParisTokyoShanghaiDetroit. The lasting impact that sexual assault has on a woman’s ability to live her fullest life without fear.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a narrative non-fiction called Jew Girl. It’s about half done and I’ve got a 2024 pub date, so I need to finish it!
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