Friday, October 29, 2010

Today's Q&A Author: Judy Gruen

Here we are at the end of the week! Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart has been out for two weeks now and we're thrilled with the response we've had from friends and those who are learning about the book from others.
Today, author Judy Gruen drops by with her Q&A session about her essay and writing. Enjoy!

How long have you been writing essays?

Oh my, since gas was cheap and only sailors had tattoos! That would be more than 25 years, which I find hard to believe, since I'm still only . . . well, never mind.

When and where was your first essay published?

Not counting the editorials I wrote as editor of a college newspaper, I sold my first humor essay to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1983, I think. The Herald had always been the scrappy second-tier paper in LA till its demise many years back. The essay was a spoof on the aerobics craze, and it was called, "Fear of Fat: Don't Let it Make You Skinny." I was thrilled down to my toes when it was published.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I submitted two essays, and was extremely gratified that both were accepted. I was especially grateful that the more serious of the two essays, "The Rabbi and the Skeptic," was included, since I wrote it with this anthology in mind. This essay has become the springboard for what I hope will be my fourth book.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

My humor piece, "Click Here for Trouble," is about how we found our beagle-lab through an online pet rescue matchmaking service. My husband hadn't wanted a dog, the kids were clamoring for one, and I couldn't resist him. (I'm referring to the dog, but I still find my husband irresistable, too.) Conflicts over chewed socks and stolen pizzas ensued, but peace eventually returned to the house, though we are down by many socks and one half-eaten sofa.

"The Rabbi and the Skeptic," on the other hand, traces my mistrust and apprehension about attending a class on the Torah taught by an orthodox rabbi. The struggle to be willing to engage with traditional Jewish teachings, and a controversial rabbi to boot, forced me to confront my own unfair stereotypes about what Judaism, undiluted by modernist twists, really said. It felt threatening, and it was the most difficult, important, and transformative decision of my life.

Had you tried the essay market before?

Yes, I've been an essayist for more than 20 years. My essays have been published in Woman's Day, Family Circle, the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and many, many other media outlets. My most recent book, "The Women's Daily Irony Supplement," is also an anthology of what I consider my best humor essays in recent years. I continue to write regular humor columns for,, and many of my essays are syndicated through

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

I'm really thrilled to be in the company of so many other accomplished writers. This is an exciting project, and I'm enjoying my colleagues' contributions immensely.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Everyone who has a pulse has something to write about, even if it's just musing about the miracle of having that pulse continue to beat! My funniest and most poignant work is never fiction based; it's all fodder for essays that has come from listening and observing the fascinating, ironic, touching, scary, amazing and sometimes infuriating things that happen every day.

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