I’m so excited to welcome Erika Robuck back to Between the Sheets. This week her latest novel, CALL ME ZELDA, releases to much anticipation. It has already been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Bazaar, and Glamour Magazine. I’ve been waiting for this book to release since I turned the last page of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL!
Zelda Fitzgerald seems to be zeigeist! She’s in the air and all around us. What makes your view of her unique?
My view of Zelda is unique because it is told through the eyes of Zelda’s fictional psychiatric nurse. In the biographies, I noticed mention of a nurse spending time with Zelda on an outpatient basis in Baltimore, a nurse accompanying Zelda to an art showing, a nurse sedating her on a train… While that might have been several women or one, I chose to create a character out of that shadowed figure loosely based on a woman in one of F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s short stories. I’m quite sure no one else has shown the world of the Fitzgeralds through my nurse’s view.
There is some speculation that Zelda was a truly gifted writer, but was repressed by her famous husband, Scott Fitzgerald. What do you think of this theory?
Zelda was gifted in all of her artistic endeavors, but often didn’t have the resources to perfect and polish her forms. Scott did try to stop some of her efforts at writing, but he also encouraged her in other ways. His treatment of her expression through words, painting, or dance was erratic at best, and often seemed frustrated by his own alcoholism. Their story is a tragedy.
Can you share an anecdote about Zelda that you had to cut from the novel?
This is less an anecdote about something I cut, and more about a detail of Zelda’s personal life I did not include… As an author of historical fiction focused on writers, I grow to care deeply for my subjects over the course of the research and writing process. I think it is very important to represent them truly, but also to provide a redemption of sorts to illustrate their human worth. With Zelda, I wanted to protect her privacy on certain matters, so I didn’t expose every detail of her medical records or health past. If it didn’t serve the story and the greater message, I didn’t include it. It was the same when I wrote about Hemingway. There were certain family details that I felt deserved to be kept private because adding them would just be for the sake of gossip instead of theme, so I avoided them.
What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened to you since you’ve become a writer? The most exciting?
So many unusual things have happened to me that I wrote a blog post about them! Namely, I’ve been told I have a spirit of an old man walking with me, and I’ve been invited to do a reading at a nudist colony. The most exciting thing has been the mention of Call Me Zelda in print media like The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s Bazaar. The most moving and strange occurrence was when the opera song Zelda danced to for Scott on the night they met, a song mentioned in my novel many times, began playing on the radio as I pulled into the graveyard to pay my respects to the Fitzgeralds.
If you could travel back in time to counsel yourself on this journey, what would your advice be?
Trust the process and timing. Do not resist or force it, and the stream will carry you safely to shore…
Best place on earth—-Sunset Key, Florida
Favorite family pasttime—Hiking
U.S. or Europe?—-Europe because it is so historic!!
Biggest Vice—-Dancing with the Stars
Erika Robuck self-published her first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING. Her novel, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL (NAL/Penguin), was a Target Emerging Author Pick, a Vero Beach Bestseller, and has been sold in two foreign markets to date. Her next novel, CALL ME ZELDA (NAL/Penguin), publishes on May 7, 2013, and begins in the years “after the party” for Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Erika writes about and reviews historical fiction at her blog, Muse, and is a contributor to popular fiction blog, Writer Unboxed. She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Hemingway Society. Find her books HERE & HERE