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Interview with Deborah Skolnik


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In England, while Prince William and Duchess Catherine became proud parents to daughter Princess Charlotte, Scarsdale woke up to Deborah Skolnik’s “All Hail the ‘Dale’!

A new princess is born! England cheers and rejoices,

and stateside, we add in our own Yankee voices!

But what’s the big deal? Because I’ve gotta say,

in Scarsdale we see princesses every day.

They live in McMansions decked out so chic-shabby

they’d suffice as the setting for McDownton Abbey.

Sadly, these gals lack a carriage and pony,

but with Teslas and Jaguars, they still travel tony.

Slender and coiffed, our princesses look royal

even at C-Town, just buying tin foil.

And just like the Windsors, they seldom feel lonely:

When they eat, you can bet that it’s Standing Room Only.

If you give Deborah an idea, she will whip up a poem. And then another. A prolific writer, with a keen sense of humor, Deborah Skolnik  posts at least one poem every week on her Facebook page, Gentle Scarsdale Satire, and her words have brightened many a snowed-in, gloomy day and hot, angry ones too! Nothing escaped her observant eye, and 100 days of Gentle Scarsdale Satire, is about Scarsdale, its people, its issues and all the small and big things that make this village an interesting one to be in!

As Deborah gears up to launch her book next week (WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16 at 7 PM at the Wayside Cottage), we caught up with her for a short chat!

tgbc: How did 100 days of Gentle Scarsdale Satire come into being?
Deborah: One morning last winter, shortly after we parents had all dropped off our kids to school, the school called and told us to come take them home again because the weather was getting worse. A bunch of parents were complaining about it on Facebook, and a poem popped into my head about it. I put it on the Scarsdale Moms Facebook page – a wonderful community resource- and it got a tremendous response. I was surprised!

After writing a few more poems, it became clear to me that my work would be better off living on its own Facebook page, with a self-selecting audience. I put a note to that effect on the Scarsdale Moms page, inviting people to join my poetry group. I thought maybe 30 people would sign up, and stick around till the snow thawed. Instead, the group now numbers more than 700 people. I am so grateful to each and every one of them, including you, Preeti!

Sometime this fall, I became aware that I was nearing the 100-poem mark. Quite a few people had suggested making the poems into a book. That hadn’t been the original intention, but I figured why not, once there are 100 poems? I finally reached that number a few weeks ago.

tgbc: The poems are fairly tongue in cheek…how do you manage to balance the snarkiness in a fairly small community?
Deborah: I don’t pick on any one person, only on things that I think are near-universal challenges, amusements, or frustrations within our community. Early on, I learned to be mindful of the first word in Gentle Scarsdale Satire!

I hope a lot of people will want a copy for their coffee table or as a holiday gift for a family member, friend, or anyone who grew up here or recently moved to town. Even if you’ve never visited Scarsdale, the poems are bound to strike a chord, especially if you live in the suburbs! These verses are about stuff like childcare struggles, overpriced real estate, parking tickets, and lawns that refuse to stay green. I think it’s all a good laugh, and a great cause will benefit with each purchase, too: A portion of all the profits will go to My Sister’s Place, a wonderful charity that combats domestic violence and human trafficking in Westchester County.

tgbc: What are the other writings you have done?
Deborah: After majoring in English from Cornell University in 1989, I embarked on a 25-year career working at a variety of newspapers and magazines–Woman’s Day; the late, great McCall’s; American Baby; The New York Daily News; Parents; and Parenting. I spent 8 happy years at Parenting when, in 2013 it folded. I was super fortunate and immediately got a job working for Myron Corporation, a large promotional products firm located in Maywood, New Jersey. If anyone wants the world’s best pens, pocket diaries, desk journals, or other items to promote their brand, we are THE source! I have helped write a dental humor calendar for us (yes, that’s a real thing) that does very well. It’s called Bright Smiles–visit myron.com and check it out!

I’ve written for every publication mentioned above, plus others including Redbook, Glamour, Closer, The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, and Westchester magazine. My writings range from heavily reported pieces to humor pieces and essays. Last year, Reader’s Digest bought a few of my Facebook posts and ran them in their “Life in These United States” humor section, which I found humorous in and of itself! I hadn’t submitted them–a friend I used to work with thought the posts were funny, and showed them to the magazine’s humor editor.

I also once wrote a song about a brand of birdseed called Birdola. I don’t know why, except that the name made me laugh. My husband put a snippet of me singing the Birdola song on YouTube, and several months later, the company reached out to me because they wanted the song! All my friends thought I was going to become a millionaire, but I kept reminding them that I have never seen a birdseed commercial on TV in my life.

In the end, it turned out that the company just wanted to sing my song at their annual Christmas party. I traded them the right to do that in exchange for some birdseed and a sweatshirt that says ‘BIRDOLA’ on it. So while some people complain that they work for peanuts, I work for birdseed!

tgbc: A bit on you and your family!
Deborah: I grew up right here in Scarsdale–Edgemont, to be exact. My family moved here in 1969. Aside from college and 6 years in the city, I’ve lived here my entire life. I’m fortunate to be married to a wonderful man, TP Enders, and we have two children.

tgbc: Would you say your poems force people to pause and think?
Deborah: I think at their best, they do. I’ve written about topics like people’s overeagerness to knock down homes with historic significance, for instance, and people who double-park their cars. These may be the same people!

tgbc: What are some of the poems you wish you had written? What stopped you from writing them?
Deborah: That’s an interesting question. There’s one subject I promised my father I would never mock. To name it would kind of be unfair. I’ll leave you guessing.

tgbc: What is your favorite way of unwinding?
Deborah: Writing poems is definitely up there! I also really like swimming, driving to an orchard and picking fruit, doing yoga outdoors, and spending time with my family and friends.

tgbc: What are your comfort foods?
Deborah: Hershey’s chocolate, buttered pastina–you know, all the healthy stuff. I’d like to say edamame or green tea. But the truth is I’ve been known to squirt Redi-Whip directly into my mouth.

tgbc: What next?
Deborah: It’s been my lifelong dream to write for Saturday Night Live. I’m going to send a copy of 100 Days of Gentle Scarsdale Satire to Lorne Michaels and beg him to just let me be a fly on the wall at a writer’s meeting. What have I got to lose? The worst he can do is ignore me or say no.

I was also about halfway through writing a romance novel last summer–a continuation of a trilogy by another author–when I got busy with other things. I may pick it up again too.

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About Preeti Singh

I am a bookaholic. I love stories, storytelling. I enjoy helping people structure their storytelling, and I love to share the stories I discover.

One comment on “Interview with Deborah Skolnik

  1. diana
    December 11, 2015

    What’s not to love? Scarsdale is lucky to have you both!! See you December 16!!

    Like

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This entry was posted on December 11, 2015 by in Interview, Interviews, The Scarsdale Salon and tagged , , .
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