Shirley Goldberg stops by for a look at her new release, MIDDLE AGEISH, an amusing take on on-line dating at fifty. Enjoy!
Middle Ageish released two days ago and it’s your first book. What are five things readers need to know about Sunny Chanel, your character?
1. Sunny’s husband announces he wants a divorce on their anniversary. Since she’s never hung around where she isn’t wanted, Sunny leaves her husband behind in Paris and starts over in New Haven, Connecticut. She goes back to school at age fifty to get her master’s in teaching.
2. She’s shoved into online dating by her best friend’s boyfriend, who thinks he’s helping her. She and her good friend have a dating contest to see who’ll be the first to date twenty-five men. There’s even a prize.
3. Her first online date throws a mushroom at the waiter and Sunny runs out of the restaurant.
4. Sunny lives in New Haven. I grew up there, lived and worked in New Haven as a teacher for many years.
5. Sunny is a fictional character, but bits and pieces of me are intertwined in her story. It’s a first novel, after all. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what’s real and what’s not anymore.
Share a favorite scene from your book and tell us why it's your favorite.
One of my favorite scenes is when two of the characters have a picnic dinner in a motel room. Sunny is living out her fantasy from an old Audrey Hepburn movie where Audrey and Albert Finney, looking oh, so young and fine, are too poor to go to restaurants. They eat in their hotel room and Sunny, craving that closeness, recreates the moment from the movie.
What are five things Sunny can’t live without?
Sunny can’t live without her sense of humor, her best friends, her students, her books and her independence. Family? It’s a given.
You write a lot about online dating, so you must be an online dating expert. What advice would you give readers about online dating?
It doesn’t matter if you’re twenty-five or fifty, like Sunny. Here are six things you should know about online dating:
1. Online dating isn’t dating because nothing counts until you meet. No, emails don’t count as dates. Meet as soon as possible. These days, do one or two Zoom dates. It’s the closest thing to a first meet.
2. You need a great picture and a profile that doesn’t read like spinach. That is, bland and boring. Tell a story, even if it’s short. Get your friends to help you. Seriously.
3. Talk on the phone before you meet. It’s the best way to weed out the clunkers. No offense. Your clunker may be another person’s honeybun.
4. Most first meets are mediocre. Dating is a numbers game. Email or swipe on a lot of folks. They come and they go. Don’t take it personally.
5. Many people leave their manners at home when meeting someone for the first time. Don’t be one of those people.
6. Never give up. Your person could be around the corner.
7. For more dating tips, including distance dating ideas, check out my website.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
I’d give a would-be writer the same advice I give to my friends about online dating. Never give up. Your agent––or publisher––could be right around the corner.
Don’t write in a vacuum. Join a writers group or find a critique partner. It’s so much more fun to have a group plotting party, even if it’s a Zoom event.
Excerpt from Middle Ageish:
Of course, my goodbye party was at Chez Lulu in the Latin Quarter, Paris’ most Bohemian arrondissment. Lulu’s has that Fifties diner look—clean, spare and edgy like an Edward Hopper painting minus the feeling of isolation. It’s always packed, and the music is Buddy Holly, early Elvis, Patsy Cline, the Everly Brothers—a mix of rock and roll and country.
“Dinner’s here,” announced Dulcie, waving her beer glass before taking a long pull. “Everyone let them through!”
“Hey, ain’t this a swell party?” said Bertrand, arriving at our noisy table with an armload of gourmet burgers. “Who’s got the Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mantles?”
Have I mentioned all the waiters are imitation James Deans, white T-shirts and jeans with rolled cuffs? Bertrand and Albert—they both speak perfect, slangy English—are our favorites. Bertrand is flirty in a sweet way and working his way through the Institute d’Etudes Politiques de Paris.
“And the Robert Mitchum with Buddy Holly fries?” Lulu’s boasts seven varieties of American fries, named for baseball players, or French and American pop stars.
“Two Jane Russells with Joe DiMaggio fries?” Albert, at Lulu’s between acting jobs, shouted, and everyone quieted for a moment, shuffling plates and passing them across the table. Movie star burgers with caramelized onions on miniature baguette buns. My mouth was so ready.
My going-away party...and I am not going to cry. Moving to New Haven and…I’m not not not crying.
Next to me, Natalie held out The Middle-Aged Idiot’s Guide to Online Dating. “For when you start dating,” she yelled over the roar that is Lulu’s. “This book really helped––”
“Dating? Seriously?” I grabbed two curly fries, the Joe DiMaggios, and popped them into my mouth. Picked up the burger, took a bite. Camembert oozed around the edges. Orgasmic. “Like dating is on my list of things to do?” I said around the burger. “Right below sticking a rusty fork in my eye?”
Right there, with my mouth around my favorite burger in the world, I lost my appetite.
About the Author:
Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look into dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middle Ageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.
Visit my website for another excerpt from the book. Sign up and grab a copy of Happy Hour, a short story about an online meet and a tiny misunderstanding: https://midagedating.com/
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