Sonia Pressman Fuentes – Author Interview

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

My book is a memoir called Eat First — You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter. The book, written with humor, is the story of my life, beginning with my birth in, and escape from, Nazi Germany and including my becoming a co-founder of the second wave of the women’s movement—and beyond.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1928, and emigrated to the U.S., arriving in 1934, with my parents and older brother to escape the Holocaust. I grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. I graduated as valedictorian of my high school class, Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University, and first at the University of Miami School of Law.

I was the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and gave Betty Friedan the idea for founding an organization, which subsequently became NOW (National Organization for Women). I was a co-founder of NOW and FEW (Federally Employed Women). At the EEOC, I wrote some of the initial landmark decisions and guidelines.

I have been writing since the age of ten, when I had a poem published in the Miami Herald. At the age of eighty-two, I continue to write articles and deliver speeches.

What inspired you to write this book?

I knew that I had played a historic role in the second wave of the women’s movement and wanted to get that down on paper. I’ve always believed that something isn’t real unless and until it’s written down. Also, several men who had opposed women’s rights were rewriting history to say they’d been for it all along and I thought it important to get the facts down and preempt these revisionists. Finally, I felt my parents’ way of life was fast disappearing and I wanted to preserve that.

How did you choose the title?

It was something my mother would say to me before I went out to eat at a restaurant or someone’s home. An anecdote in my memoir explains it.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

The obstacles were immense. I couldn’t find an agent I liked, couldn’t find a traditional publisher, and solved the problem by self-publishing with Xlibris. I became one of Xlibris’s bestselling authors. There’s an article on my website about what I went through. It’s called: “How I Published My Memoir.”

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

My all-time favorite book is Leo Rosten’s The Education of Hyman Kaplan because it is hilarious.

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

Persevere in your writing and in your determination to get your book published.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Jews and feminists.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

From my website: