CAROL ROSENFELD is an accomplished short-fiction writer and poet—though it’s been a while since she participated in a poetry slam. In June 2015, Bywater Books published The One That Got Away, the first novel by this writer described as “a fruit cup in the whole-grain world of literary fiction.”
A Juris Doctor, she is kept very busy as the voluntary chair of the Publishing Triangle, which has been promoting LGBT literature since 1988. And that’s when she’s not at her day job, working for an organization that administers grants for the many colleges in the City University of New York system.
She’s lived in New York since 1976 and can often be found at the opera—she has a growing fascination for Wagner (and quite a few questions, too).
If you were to stand up in front a room full of strangers and introduce yourself, what would you say?
It would depend on who was in the room. If it was a room full of writers and readers, I would introduce myself as a writer and reader. If it was a room where job-related training was going to be taking place, I would introduce myself by my name, company and job title. If it was a natural building workshop, I would talk about my desire to build a home and my cob experience. Really, depending on the crowd I can work in almost anything—aging, caretaking, the nonprofit world, cats, humor, my belief in the re-emergence of the divine feminine, gardening (although I have no garden right now).
What authors and books have had the most profound influenceon you as a writer? As a reader?
As a writer–Laurie Colwin, Barbara Pym and Elinor Lipman for ther quirky characters and understated humor. But I also love these writers as a reader. I have re-read Laurie Colwin’s Happy All the Time so many times that the cover fell off, so I recently bought a new copy. Excellent Women is my favorite book by Barbara Pym, although I love all of her books. As an adoptee, I really enjoyed Elinor Lipman’s Then She Found Me.
As a reader, mystery series keep me involved. Ellen Hart, Louise Penny, Laurie King—especially her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters (He Shall Thunder in the Sky was another book I read so much that I had to buy a new copy), Charles Todd, Tasha Alexander, Jacqueline Winspear, Elizabeth George—I could go on and on.
When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself a writer?
Ummmmmm—maybe when I was in my 40’s? (I’m 61 now.) I think my first short story (erotic) was published in 1999.
Is writing a job, or a vocation?
If I’m to be honest, it’s a vocation. I’m not going to make enough money from it for me to call it a job.
Describe your writing style in ten words or less.
Humorous, quirky, poignant.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
That initial burst of excitement when my mind is racing around and I want to get as much written down as I can. I like doing research too.
When you hear from your readers, what do they most often say?
I haven’t really heard from anyone yet. I’m trying not to take that personally.
I think you’ll like spending time with my characters, and hopefully you will laugh a little.
What one question do you wish someone would ask about your writing, but no one has? What would your answer be?
Q: Have you ever been so intimidated by another writer’s work that you considered giving up?
A: Twice. The first time I was in an auditorium listening to Mark Doty read from Heaven’s Coast, and I was crying. I remember thinking, “I will never be able to write something as beautiful and perfect as this, so I might as well just stop right now.” The second time was at the Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writers Retreat in 2007, when Justin Torres (We The Animals) read his work. Everyone there knew we were listening to a “real writer” who was going to make his mark in the literary world. I had some real doubts about my “voice” at the retreat, and I remember talking with Katherine Forrest, one of the fiction workshop instructors, about it. Katherine was very supportive, reminding me that our community needs a variety of voices, including humorous ones. I’ll always be grateful to her for that.