Robin recently published her first novel, ON AIR. It's about an aging, once hot Boston radio personality, whose mother's illness and deathbed revelation throws him headlong into midlife crisis.
Welcome to Jungle Red! And congratulations on your new novel. Tell us about the unheroic hero of your book, Eric Storm.
ROBIN: On Air is a coming of age story about a fifty-year old pop-culture baby boomer on a downward spiral: divorced, jobless, obsessed with a woman who's 30 years younger, and ill equipped for his new role as caretaker for his dying mother. Like so many people at this mid point, he can't believe that his life is so different from what he planned. The characters in that new show Men of a Certain Age always remind me of my character, Eric Storm... and what an odd phrase to describe a time when so many of us are anything but "certain!"
HALLIE: Ha! Good point. Maybe it should be Men of an Uncertain Age.
Why a radio disc jockey?
ROBIN: I wanted Eric's fall to be from a high, glamorous place, and I remember as a teenager admiring DJs - they got paid to play music! So I wanted him to love his job as a hot shot DJ, then become a casualty of changing times and find himself left behind.. suddenly part of the older generation having trouble adjusting to the new ways. I felt that rock and roll was the best way to exemplify the clash of then and now because it's sort of the eternal definition of the division of "us" and "them" and I've always been fascinated by the way so many of us migrate from one side to the other as we age. I don't think any other profession would have shown that so clearly.
HALLIE: As a writing coach, do you find you have to turn your inner critic on or off in order to write your own work?
ROBIN: When I'm critiquing my own work I turn the volume up to 11 !!
HALLIE: That's so interesting. I agree with you -- when I'm critiquing my work, I turn the volume WAY up. My problem is turning it down low enough to get that always-lousy first draft written. What's some unique advice you give writers in your book, "The Revision Process?"
ROBIN: One thing I tell clients to do that I've never heard anywhere is to read every word out loud. It's tedious, but forces you to be mindful... hearing your writing is so different from seeing your writing, and you can pick up on a lot of weaknesses and typos. No one ever wants to do it, but it's really so helpful!
HALLIE: Tell us abut the Boston Literary Magazine - what kinds of work do you publish?
ROBIN: Boston Literary Magazine comes out four times a year, and we try to keep material seasonal; in other words don't send us a poem about a snow storm in May when we're collecting for our summer issue.
I love character-driven material; I love watching people engage in ordinary dynamics and activities that we can all relate to - going back to the boyfriend who abused you, or getting revenge on a boss who fired you, or sharing final loving moments with a dying friend - and seeing something powerful (and therefore extraordinary) come out of it. I'm not interested in descriptive pieces, even if they're beautifully crafted. I'm not saying they're not good, I'm just saying that's not what I like.
We accept poetry, very short fiction (we have a strict 250-word limit), dribbles (exactly 50 words), drabbles (exactly 100 words) and haiku. The best way to have a piece accepted by BLM is to review our Submission Guidelines page on the website, www.BostonLiteraryMagazine.com.
HALLIE: Robin will be checking back in all day, so chime in with comments or questions about the revision process, about characters who are tragically aged out, and any memories you might have of an aging disc jockey.