Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2006-04-01

Interview With D.L. Garfinkle

D.L. "Debby" Garfinkle is a former lawyer and the author of Storky: How I Lost My Nickname And Won The Girl. Storky is Michael Pomerantz, and he has dreams for his freshman year of high school: ditch the "Storky nickname" and haven Gina notice him. Meanwhile, he's being forced to volunteer at a nursing home; his Mom's dating his dentist; and his Dad's dating a string of bimbos. Storky is on Bank Street Excellent Teen Books List.

Liz B.: Storky is such a fun book, and Michael is such a real character that I'm always a bit surprised to think, hey, Debby isn't a fifteen year old boy. How did you channel your "inner Michael"?

Debby: Thank you! I was obsessively self-googling the other day, and found a teenager's blog which talked about STORKY. He said, "This guy published his diary he kept when he was a teen." I felt really good that my novel seemed so authentic to him! Note that I wasn't trying to pull a "Go Ask Alice" fraud though. The cover of STORKY says "A Novel" on it, and my bio in the back of the book notes that I'm a female lawyer with three children. I've always been a bit of a tomboy. So I already think like a male in some ways. Also, I have two brothers and one of my best friends in high school was a guy. Actually, he still is a guy and we still talk. And it really helped to have two male writers in my critique group and a male editor at Putnam. They all kept telling me to add more sex. Also, at the time I was drafting the novel, my friend's teenage son helped us move. He talked about cars, cars, and cars, so I knew I had to include cars in the story.

Liz B.: Storky was your first published book. What will we see next? And what are you working on now?

Debby: Putnam should publish my young adult novel STUCK IN THE SEVENTIES in the summer of 2007. In that book, a wild Valley girl from the present passes out drunk in a Jacuzzi and wakes up in the bathtub of a male honor student in 1978. I loved writing about disco, afros, Neil Diamond, and other silly stuff from that time period.

I also just signed on to do a three-book young adult paperback series--Beverly Hills 90210 meets The Lovely Bones meets Making the Band. I think it will be lots of fun.

Liz B.: From one former lawyer to another -- at what point did you realize that the Law, or being a Lawyer, wasn't right for you?

Debby: I went to law school at liberal UC Berkeley. The summer before I graduated, I worked long hours for a big New York law firm where I represented a nuclear power plant (LILCO), a nursing home with a bunch of patient care violations, a slumlord, and a company fighting environmentalists in order to develop property. This all occurred in ten weeks! No kidding! I think they were testing me. I hated not being able to look at myself in the mirror without wanting to throw up. I also hated the long hours.

I turned down a job offer there to work for the federal government for about one-third of the pay. I really liked that job and stayed for nine years, the last three part-time. I sat in a little office in back of the courtroom and researched and wrote appellate decisions for a wonderful judge who I kind of used as a model for STORKY's Dr. Berman. I was writing all day, so of course I loved it. And it was great practice for fiction writing, because at times I had to be, uh, very creative.

I quit my law job not because I didn't like it, but because I wanted to spend more time with my young children. I thought I'd return to law practice one day, but writing novels is so much more fun. I told my husband the day Putnam offered to buy STORKY, "This is one of the best days of my life and one of the worst days of yours, because I'm never going back to practicing law."

Liz B.: Pop is about using pop culture to improve libraries. What is your Pop Culture area of expertise?

Debby: I have so many! I love MTV. I watch music videos while I exercise on the Elliptical, and love shows like Punk'd, Pimp My Ride, and Room Raiders. I'm so immature, I have to write for teens. I'm also a reality TV show nut. And I've subscribed to People Magazine for the last fifteen years, usually reading it cover to cover as soon as it arrives.

Thank you!

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