What is the title of your book? Why?
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. For me it’s a hopeful title, one that promises relief for the book’s main characters, all of whom are stuck between the dreaming and waking world.
What were the seeds of this book?
I wanted to write about watching a crazy-but-charming father lose his mind. I started writing that book. Then my real life crazy-but-charming father got renal cancer and proceeded to die slowly and painfully over three years. I stopped writing almost completely. When I went back, I took out the father that was in the book and put my own father in. I’m sure that I wasn’t supposed to do that, and expect any minute to be struck down by the gods of fiction, but I missed him, and it was the only way to get through it.
Was there a particular moment that this book became its own beast, outside of you?
Absolutely. For years, the book was the beast that accompanied me through every hour of my day job (I ran editorial teams for websites). Then, when I was laid off out of the blue in 2012, it was the beast that would not tolerate me doing anything else. I knew I should hustle and get another job—I had a young kid at home and bills to pay, but instead I found myself unable to leave a desk for 3 months until it was finally done.
What sentence (or phrase, or idea, or innovation) in this book are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the structure, which came to me after I’d written the entire book and realized the plot wasn’t quite working. I talked about it with my husband, who is a filmmaker, and he gave me the idea to storyboard, and well, it took. (It took a few weeks to get it right, but yeah, it took.)
When did you first know you were a writer?
Probably with my first book of “poetry” at age 7, though it took me another 15 years to say it out loud. (My parents are Indian. Sometimes my mother will still look at me longingly and say I would have been a wonderful doctor).
Which writers (or books) have made you think about your own writing in new ways?
Too many to name, but most recently Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who isn’t afraid to write about love.
Are there any writers featured in this giveaway with whom you have a strong friendship? How did you meet that person? How do you support each other’s work?
I founded and ran Pete’s Reading Series for 13 years, so I’ve featured many of the other writers at the series. In return, their stories sustained me through writing a book while working full time and raising a kid and generally feeling like I was losing sight of my dream. I’d come in every two weeks, listen to them, and remember why writing mattered. It was like my version of church.
If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you would be? Put another way, what else fills your life besides writing (and how does this influence your writing, in practical or ephemeral ways)?
I have a near constant fantasy about becoming a physical therapist. I have sympathy for bodies, for what we put them through.
More About Mira Jacob
Mira Jacob is the co-founder of the much-loved Pete’s Reading Series in Brooklyn, where she spent 13 years bringing literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to the city’s sweetest stage. Previously, she directed editorial content for various websites, co-authored shoe impresario Kenneth Cole’s autobiography, and wrote VH-1’s Pop-Up Video. Her writing has been published in books, magazines, on television, and across the web. She has appeared on national and local television and radio, and has taught writing to students of all ages in New York, New Mexico, and Barcelona. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, documentary filmmaker Jed Rothstein, and their son. You can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.
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The character of Kamala provides a recipe on Mira’s website – scroll down on this page and click on the white shoe. What’s the name of your favorite recipe?