Dear Gabrielle, I am the one who made the videos about Margarettetown and I was wondering if you had any advice on where to apply for internships and things for the summer since I am nearing the end of my college career.

Thanks again for being a Margarettown enthusiast! Seriously… Do you recall when Margaret Towne says she is cursed? Well, the book that bears her name was a little bit cursed, too. At least the publication of it. So I  appreciate my Margarettown readers very, very, very much. Have you read Nicole Kraus’s The History of Love? That novel came out the same month as Margarettown but this is not why I mention it. In The History of Love, there is a story of a book that no one (except for maybe two people in the entire world) remembers called The History of LoveMargarettown is a bit like that for me. (You might like The History of Loveif you haven’t yet read it, by the way.)

Re: internships

I had an internship at the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) one summer, working in their media department. We made (or at least tried to make) a video that was to teach DOT workers how to repair potholes.

The internship was paid… It was very important to me to be paid. In retrospect, I think I was silly about that. It wasn’t like it was a ton of money anyway ($7/hour as I recall) — I might have taken a much better unpaid internship. I had turned down a perfectly good unpaid internship at the Food Network, which would have been a lot more interesting, relevant and probably fun.

I DID however learn a lot from that internship at the DOT. Mainly what I learned is that it is difficult to get anything done. Our little pothole repair video had to go through endless committees before it could be made. This process turns out to be remarkably similar to what working in film or publishing is actually like.

In terms of where to get internships? I would encourage you to ASK EVERYONE YOU KNOW. The internship at the DOT I got through a friend. The internship at the Food Network I found about through my college’s Office of Career Services.

My last word of advice. I know that internships are competitive. If you don’t end up getting one, a sneaky way to snag a backdoor internship is to take a job volunteering in a related field. I’m not sure what your field is, but if it were, say, writing or publishing, I might try offering up my services to Valencia 826 or Girls Write Now.



UPDATE 6/2013

I was reading this over and I’m not sure I gave such a great answer. In the months since, I’ve read several articles talking about the way that unpaid internships (and particularly ones in the arts) amount to slave labor (and particularly for women). In any case, I think this question requires a more complex discussion than the answer I gave here.

Excellent (fan-made?) trailer in Spanish for my first adult novel, Margarettown (2005). Margarettown came out in the days before book trailers.

(wednesday narcissism no. 11)

So the trailer makes sense to you, here’s a synopsis of the book.

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers

Readers who enjoyed exploring the power and limitations of love inThe Time Traveler’s Wife and The Confessions of Max Tivoli will find a similarly magical set of circumstances at work in Zevin’s tenderhearted novel. The narrator of this tale, simply known as “N.,” is a teaching assistant who falls in love with one of his students, Margaret Towne. Though his love is reciprocated, it comes with a caveat. For Maggie declares she is “cursed.” Undaunted by her admission, N. wants to marry her, so Maggie takes him home to meet her family. But it doesn’t take long for N. to realize that something very strange is afoot in Margarettown; for Maggie’s family consists of a handful of women — of varying ages — each of whom carries a name derived from that of his beloved.Zevin’s novel takes several unusual turns as she leads readers on a survey of the many forms of love. Ultimately, the tale is revealed as a kind of diary, which N. has written for his daughter. But the narration changes midstream, and Maggie gets a chance to tell her side of the story before handing it off to the couple’s unborn children. InMargarettown, Zevin ingeniously demonstrates the challenges faced by an enduring love, during which time the beloved changes, only to become a conglomeration of many different personas. (Fall 2005 Selection)

the writing life #5

Though I have resided in my current apartment for over four years, last Sunday I noticed that I live on the same street where Dorothy Parker once lived.

I adored Dorothy Parker as a teen and into my twenties. Readers of Margarettown and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (and watchers of Conversations with Other Women) may even note certain thematic resonances in the following poem:

“Indian Summer”
by Dorothy Parker

In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.

For further Dorothy Parker reading, I recommend The Portable Dorothy Parker.

Mailbag #1: In Which the Author Catches Up on Her Much Neglected Correspondence

Lindsey W. writes:
“If there was one character [in MEMOIRS] you’d like to change, who would it be?”

Lindsey, how dare you! Are you implying that the characters in my books aren’t perfect?

But, if you’re asking me what advice I’d give them if I ran into them as actual breathing people in life, then that’s another story.

For instance, here’s what I’d say to James: Yes, it’s true. You’re rather moody and depressive, but on the positive side of things, you’re very handsome and women seem to find you attractive. So, lighten up, my dear. Life isn’t so bad as all that. Love and let people love you, and life will get so much easier, I swear.

Or Will: All right, you’re not at your peak attractiveness to women just yet. But wait about ten years…

Or Naomi: Avoid stairs.

Malena M. writes:
“MEMOIRS kind of confused me a little bit around the time Naomi got her memory back. So was she a stuck up snob or not?… Oh, and why did she go out with Ace in the first place????? he was such a brainless jerk. And does Naomi end up getting reattached to her mom????”

Ah Malena, I think Naomi was both a stuck up snob and not. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s entirely possible to be two things at the same time–to want to change but to have no idea how to go about that.

I didn’t necessarily think Ace was a “brainless jerk.” He isn’t as verbal as Will or James which might, at times from Naomi’s point-of-view, make him seem thoughtless/brainless/jerky. But the truth is, she underestimates him just as she underestimates her attachment to many other things in her life. Naomi went out with Ace because he was popular, good looking, and actually a pretty decent guy. Luckily, we don’t have to marry everyone we date.

Yes, Naomi is “reattached” to her mother. In a way, it would be impossible for her not to be — her mother is the keeper of so much of her history and life. I think we see this a bit when she goes to see her mother about the photography project.

Francesca R. writes:
“I was wondering, do you think there will be a sequel to [MEMOIRS] in the near future?”

As a reader, I can certainly enjoy sequels. As a writer, not so much. The joy of writing for me comes from discovering a new set of characters in an entirely different world. BUT, one of the main characters from Memoirs (not Naomi) may make an appearance in the book I’m working on right now.

Svetlana K. writes:
“[MARGARETTOWN] inspired me to create a tarot spread…. It’s at

Svetlana, this delights me for several reasons. For one, Margarettown is, by far, my least popular book — except in Italy where it was called Frammenti di una storia d’amore which apparently worked a lot better than the title I gave it. For two, I certainly never thought I’d see a tarot spread on any of my books. Now, all my other books are jealous.

Catie W. writes:
“In ELSEWHERE, Emily talks about losing her baby after Owen died. What was the name of the baby going to be? I was thinking that maybe she was going to name him after Owen, but her nephew’s name was Owen so that made me unsure.”

Catie, I wanted this name to be a secret between Owen and Emily, and the name is omitted on purpose. In a way, I hoped the reader would be put in the same position as Owen: watching Emily every moment but still only knowing so much.

Gabrielle Z. writes:
“Did you really think you were going to get through all your e-mail in one night?”

Yeah, I kind of did. This was way too ambitious though. This will have to be in multiple parts. In the mean time, enjoy this terrific little book trailer for Memoirs from the good people at the Lansing Public Library: