Dr. Ruth Nemzoff – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with your Adult Children (Palgrave/Macmillan 2008) is my most recent book. It is a tale of two perspectives; that of the parents, and that of the adult child. It aims to mitigate the normal storms and dramas of life.

Tell us something about yourself.

Dr. Ruth Nemzoff is a resident scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center and an adjunct assistant Professor at Bentley University. Her academic training in American Studies at Barnard College, in counseling at Columbia University and in Social Policy at Harvard University is the foundation of this picture of the changing American family. She formerly held the position of Assistant Minority Leader of the New Hampshire Legislature and was New Hampshire’s first female Deputy Commissioner of Health and Welfare.

She currently serves as chair of the Advisory Committee, Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, Her papers are Archived at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University.

Ruth has been speaking around the country on this compelling topic and has even brought these issues to an international audience. She is available to speak to your group on intergenerational issues and can be found at her website ruthnemzoff.com. She and her husband have four children and six grand children.

What inspired you to write this book?

When my first child married, everyone advised me to “Keep my mouth shut and my pocketbook open”. I thought that was terrible advice; I was beginning a new relationship with the young man my daughter was marrying, and I needed to transform my relationship with my daughter, since I would no longer be next of kin.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

Luba Ostashevsky, my superb editor, offered me a contract. I had tried to sell the book for a year, and most of the editors were in their 20s and 30s, and said that there was no subject matter here, “My parents don’t parent me.” Meanwhile, at every cocktail party I attended, the parents would obsess about how much time and energy their adult children took.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I never thought that I would be a writer. I can’t spell, but over time I learned that writing and spelling are two different skills. I started writing by talking to myself at the computer.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Sitting down and doing it.

How do you do research for your books?

I began by going to bookstores to see what others had written on the subject; I found precious little. I then scoured the Sociology and Psychology literature, and found that most data focused on end-of-life issues. Finally, I interviewed mothers and fathers, and held several focus groups.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

Yes! I learned that if I put my mind to something, I can do it. I learned that friends and family were willing to support me, particularly if I gave them one small task. From my book tour, I learned that parents in any changing society are uncertain how to relate to their adult children.

What are you reading now?

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Jhumpa Lahiri is a favorite author of mine. She explores family relationships in a changing society.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

My next book is in process.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Keep at it.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I have spoken in over 100 venues around the country and even the world. Most of these “gigs” were to standing room-only. Satisfied listeners would then recommend me to other locales; the tour has gone on for a year and a half.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can learn about my book at www.dontbiteyourtongue.com, and they can buy it online.