Meet Sharon Pomerantz, the author of a wonderful new novel called RICH BOY. How lucky I am that she has agreed to an interview. When I first laid eyes on this book I fell in love with the cover. I only hoped it would be as good as it looked. The answer to that question is YES, YES, and YES! I loved it. Now, let’s get into it.
Could you tell us how and where you came up with the story?
Much of it is out of my imagination, but the Vishniaks and Kupferbergs are somewhat based on my father’s family. Around the time when I started the novel, we’d had a lot of losses. I started out as a person with a big, close family, and by the time I was in my mid-thirties, all my aunts and uncles and some of my cousins on that side had died. Then, my dad passed away while I was working on RICH BOY. I was in mourning, and tried to recreate a world of people and references that I missed, especially in all those family scenes in Oxford Circle, where much of my family had lived.
Is the character of Robert based on a real person?
Not exactly, but he is an amalgam of several people I’ve known, and there’s some of me, obviously, in all my characters. I am really interested in the idea of what happens when a person goes from working class existence, an upbringing where every penny counts, to one of wealth and utter freedom. A very small number of people get to have that experience-it’s the American Dream, after all-and the ones I’ve known, or read about, often seem to do something to mess it up. Perhaps they can’t figure out who they are anymore. Or the money goes to their heads, and they think they’re above the rules.
You have so nailed the time periods. How on earth did you do it?
Endless hours of research. I almost got TOO caught up with the research- a first novelist’s disease- and had to cut a lot out. But I read endlessly about the Vietnam period, and about life in New York in the early 1970s ( a period in New York City history that continues to fascinate me).
Twelve only published one fiction title this year and RICH BOY is it. What was that process like?
Wonderful. I’ve gotten the full attention of a lot of interesting people who are very very good at what they do-every novelist’s dream. And even though RICH BOY has been out a few months, they continue to care about the book’s fate. I feel extremely fortunate.
My favorite classic is THE GREAT GATSBY. I find it crisp, clean, and full of characters who come to life on the page. What is your favorite classic and why?
That’s a really hard question! I do love Gatsby, but I think my favorite is probably The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Though it’s a Victorian novel, it could be The Way We Live NOW. Also The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham, is a novel I’ve read many times, and admire greatly.
RICH BOY is a book to be read, reread, kept, and cherished. Still, I hope you have an idea for another novel soon. If so, would you share with us?
First, thank you! I’m hoping this next one won’t take ten years. And yes, I have started something new that looks more particularly at marriage-many of my short stories ask questions about intimacy, sexuality, and why marriage and commitment are so hard, particularly, it seems, for my generation. I want to further examine those themes.
Thank you so much Sharon! It’s exciting knowing you are working on a new novel. I will be waiting with baited breath to read it. I have your novel on my Maurice On Books table at our Barnes and Noble Store in Estero, Florida. It will continue to live there until the paper arrives on the scene to displace it. My clients are just beginning to return from summering up north. Your lovely story will continue to have legs in my neck of the woods!