Your first novel, Swimming Across the Hudson, was published more than 10 years ago, so youâ€™ve had a long gap between books. Was writing Matrimony difficult for you? Were you working on other projects?
It’s funny, at some point in that ten-year period, my agent called — I think she wanted to make sure I was still alive. A lot of things have happened in the last ten years — I got married and had two children; I’ve been teaching creative writing; I’ve published a handful of short stories — but mostly I’ve been working on Matrimony.
Swimming Across the Hudson took me three years; Matrimony took me ten. I threw out literally thousands of pages — many of them good pages; they just didn’t belong in this book. My hope is my next novel will take me less time, but you never know. Writing a novel is a very long process. And in my case, stopping to write stories slowed me down. I donâ€™t regret it. I love writing stories. But I thought I could just churn stories out on the side while I plowed forward with my novel, and that proved not to be the case.
Writing fiction takes incredible focus, and in general Iâ€™m not much of a multi-tasker. Iâ€™m a serial monogamist when it comes to fiction, which may not be such a bad thing when youâ€™ve written a book called Matrimony.
While many issues come up over the course of Mia and Julian’s relationship, their different religious backgrounds isn’t one of them. Did you consider using this as a source of conflict? Anything in the thousands of discarded pages?
God knows whatâ€™s in those thousands of discarded pages. I suspect some Jewish content got thrown out, but Iâ€™d be surprised if I found anything that went on at length about Julian and Miaâ€™s religious differences. As was the case in Swimming Across the Hudson, there’s an intermarriage in Matrimony, but whereas in Swimming it was the cause of considerable anguish and discussion, in Matrimony it’s not even remarked upon.