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Monday, October 14, 2013

Author Interview: Sheryl Sorrentino: We Humans Seem To Romanticize Sexual Love Above All Else

Her tagline is Real Fiction for Real Women™ and she means it when she writes and the same reflects to her readers while reading her work. She is a successful business woman in Northern California. Her first book Later with Myself: TheMisadventures of Millie Moskowitz was a real life compilation of shocking events happened in her life and it was well taken by her readers and presented her with a huge count of fans. Soon after her first publication she wrote another intriguing fiction An UnexpectedExile that was a story of a 29 years old woman who got her personal and professional life jerked due to her psychological fight within. In 2012 she launched The Floater that again was about a woman’s longing for justice and happiness.

StageDaughter is the fourth novel from this well acclaimed author Sheryl Sorrentino that has been recently launched. This is an interesting story of a teenage girl, her biracial and bisexual mother with whom she lives and her Muslim father.

Let us all give a warm welcome to Sheryl and thank her for accepting this invite thereby giving us an opportunity to know her a little more…

What is your name/ pen name?

I write under the pseudonym Sheryl Sorrentino. But it is no secret who I “really” am—just visit my website (http://sherylsorrentino.com).

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

As described in my debut novel, Later with Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz, I do not have many happy childhood memories. The ones I can recall are spending a week at my aunt’s bungalow in the country (the summer I was six years old) and getting a puppy for my eighth birthday. (Not surprisingly, my father didn’t factor much into either of these events.)

What career did you plan during your education days?

I decided I wanted to become a lawyer during my second year of college. I was a marketing major at the time. I changed majors, went on to law school, graduated in 1987, and was admitted to the New York State Bar in January 1988. I moved to California in 1989 and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1990. I have been a practicing attorney ever since.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I am highly motivated by the realization that my time on earth is finite. I try to use it well and wisely. I dedicate my waking hours to honing my professional and creative abilities while trying to live life in a positive way. In the process, I seek out nurturing and meaningful relationships with a wide variety of people through my personal, professional, and creative endeavors.

What hurts you most in this world?

Greed, ignorance, and racism.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? Were you able to overcome it? How?

By far my biggest challenge was figuring out how to get an education and forge a place for myself in this world without any meaningful family support. Much of our prospects for happiness and success in this life are weighted for or against us by sheer luck of the draw—where we are born, into what family, and with what innate abilities and vulnerabilities. On the plus side, I was undoubtedly blessed to be born in the United States and to grow up in a middle-class neighborhood with decent schools and a culture of abundance and endless possibility. Despite having been born into a highly dysfunctional and emotionally abusive family that taxed my mental health practically to the breaking point, that “outside” environment exposed me to certain values and afforded me certain opportunities for education and economic advancement that many people across the globe simply do not enjoy. Nevertheless, my early life made me susceptible to negative thinking, resistant to change, and prone to depression and so, when I left home at age 16, I was alone in the world and rather lost.

As for how I overcame these adversities, I think Khaled Housseini expressed it best in his third novel, And the Mountains Echoed: “People have it mostly backward. They think they live by what they want. But really what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.” This is especially true for me. I did not want to wind up like my mother—helpless and financially dependent on an abusive husband. At the same time, I simply could not stand feeling so miserable so much of the time. Fortunately, I was smart enough to recognize the effects of my self-destructive behavior at a fairly young age. So I took actions that would move me in a direction toward self-sufficiency and enable me to find inner peace and happiness. My advice to anyone trying to overcome adversity is this: First and foremost, honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Then choose your goal, push hard, and never give up.

If you had to live a day of your life as one living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

I wouldn’t want to be anyone other than myself. I could not even fathom it.

What is your favorite genre and why?

I don’t have a favorite genre, but there are several I don’t like: Mystery; sci-fi; romance; fantasy; and anything that’s part of a series. But a book that is truly compelling and well-written will transcend genre, so I try to keep an open mind.

What is the purpose of your writing?

I am still trying to figure that one out! I am compelled to write; for me it is an essential form of self-expression and psychic restoration—a key piece of my life’s puzzle for happiness and well-being. Oddly, I have just recently come to realize this in middle age. I have tried to stop writing and focus on other more “productive” and pressing things in my life, but doing that only leaves me feeling like an emotional amputee.

Which of your work has been published so far?

I have self-published four novels over the past two years: Later with Myself: The Misadventures of Millie MoskowitzAn Unexpected ExileThe Floater; and Stage Daughter.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I just released my fourth novel, Stage Daughter (http://stagedaughter.com), and so am “between books” at the moment while I focus on marketing. I am tossing around ideas for a fifth novel, even while debating whether to take a hiatus from writing fiction altogether. Crafting novels is intensely absorbing and inherently fulfilling; but publishing and marketing them on my own can be frustrating. I am looking for a sign from the Universe that I am following the right path with my literary pursuits by putting myself “out there” as I have been doing. The success or failure ofStage Daughter might very well tip the scales one way or the other.

What are your future plans?

It’s a funny thing about “plans.” We can plan all we like but most times, life has a different plan in store for us. I’d love to comfortably retire from practicing law in five to seven years’ time, move to the country, and write wildly-successful novels, one right after the other. But in the meanwhile, I plan to wake up each morning, make an honest living, and do what I can to stay healthy and see that my daughter does well in school and goes on to college in a few years.

What four things must you take care of while writing a book?

Writing a book is, practically by definition, all-consuming. So in addition to managing the voices constantly competing for airtime in my head (e.g., characters’ incessant chatter or that perfect turn of a phrase that pops up at precisely the wrong moment), I must eat, sleep, earn a living, and try not to ignore my husband and daughter too much.

What is your zodiac sign?

I am a Pisces, the twelfth sign of the zodiac, represented by a pair of fish. Pisces are supposed to alternate between reality and non-reality in keeping with our introspective natures. This certainly seems to be true of me.

What is the one thing in your life you wish had not happened?

I could have lived without the turn my life took when I was twelve years old. I tell a fictionalized version of this story in my first novel, Later with Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz (available on amazon.com). Although I regret the foolish mistakes I made as an adolescent, I also believe that surviving and writing about my “misadventure” has made me a stronger and more compassionate person. I also believe I have effectively returned my misfortune to the Universe by transforming those horrible events into a raw yet entertaining coming-of-age “masterpiece” that others can learn from and enjoy.

What is your definition of fear and how do you overcome it?

Fear is the paralyzing knot you get in your throat, stomach, and lower regions when you think about facing something you dread. If the fear is irrational, you can try to overcome it through positive self-talk. If it is rational, you might want to take heed and not do whatever it is that is causing you to feel so afraid. Now, if we are talking about something that you know you must do, then there is no “overcoming” your fear because it is valid; in that case, you must simply ignore it, plow forth, and find the strength to deal with the consequences—whatever they may be. As Susan Jeffers says in her book of the same name, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

How would you define God in your words?

This is quite a heavy question! Like Joseph Campbell, I believe God is the pulsating life force “behind the veil” of everything that ever existed and ever will exist in this Universe. But beyond that, God defies definition. Whatever one’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof), it is clearly a force that must be reckoned with; to do otherwise—to ignore the obvious signs of this constant and invisible presence in our lives—practically guarantees spiritual barrenness and its ensuing unhappiness.

But God is a rather perplexing companion and provides, at best, a mystifying blueprint for how to live one’s life. Predestined yet random, haphazard yet all-encompassing, God is paradoxical (like everything else in life). And so we must think and act for ourselves as individuals—not blindly follow those self-appointed religious leaders who profess to know firsthand “the word of God.” We are all part of and connected to this unfathomable power, and as such, we are equally entitled to absorb its lessons, guide its hand, and reap its rewards. But at the same time, we must never forget that we are no match for its unrivaled supremacy over our lives and all that is.

What are your views on love? What is true love?

Another heavy question! I don’t believe there is necessarily only one “soul mate” out there for us, but rather many opportunities to connect with others with whom we share a certain “frequency” on a variety of emotional and practical “wavelengths.” We humans—Americans in particular—seem to romanticize sexual love above all else, and place far too much stock in its ability to last forever and bring us enduring security and contentment. We view this type of love as a superlative yet random force over which we have little or no control (which I suppose is true, in its crudest sense). But we actually have quite a lot of control over who we allow into our hearts and how we choose to love them. And while we each crave some form of love in our lives, there are as many different ways of defining love as there are people on the planet.

All forms of love are “true love” as long as the energy behind it is selfless, heartfelt, and life-affirming. For example, in my novel, Stage Daughter, I contrast the “love” between spouses in an arranged marriage; the “love” between parent and child; and the intense sexual attraction (also a form of “love”) between people of differing backgrounds (in the case of Sonya and Aziz) and the same gender (in the case of Sonya and Nannette).

All of which is to say that bonding deeply and intimately with another human being is a divine and beautiful gift, regardless of the circumstances. But like any gift, we must be willing to accept, embrace, and care for it, and this requires a measure of practice, pragmatism, and skill. Too often, we destroy the love that comes into our lives by acting selfishly and with unrealistic expectations.