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    Stephanie Gertler

    BI-1. What inspired you to write this book?

    Stephanie - I had thought about my own first love over the years...and then, when my girlfriends and I would go out in the evening and dish over a glass of wine, I realized that everyone wonders about their first love.

    BI-2. What is this book all about? How does it tie in to the Vietnam War?

    Stephanie - Not only is the book about the impact of one's first love, but it's about what happens to us and to, say, a marriage when it's roughly twenty years old. As we get to that "midpoint," we often look back with clearer vision than we can look ahead. It's about making peace with oneself. As for the Vietnam tie-in - well, that was the boomer's era. It dates us and defines us in many ways.

    BI-3. How long did it take you to write the book?

    Stephanie - It took fifteen months to write Jimmy's Girl. I wrote it in the middle of the night (I was freelancing back then for newspapers and magazines so my days were rather filled between that and children). Writing Jimmy's Girl was such a luxury. It was an escape. Like having a love affair.

    BI-4. What was your perception of Vietnam during the war?

    Vietnam was a frightening place. It was dank and rainy and violent - and filled with young men who were my contemporaries. I watched the war, as Emily did, on television (and searched the screen for my "Jimmy Moran"). And I protested, peacefully, and prayed that it would end.

    BI-5. After doing research on the war for this book, has your perception changed at all?

    Stephanie - It's changed in one way: As a youth, I never realized how devastating it was for our "boys" to come home without the hero's welcome, to come home and be perceived as the enemy. I never thought about the loneliness and estrangement of our soldiers until I researched Jimmy's Girl.

    BI-6. Do you think that Jimmy and Emily's story is unique to the Vietnam Era?

    Stephanie - No, I don't think it's unique to the Vietnam era. There have always been "worn-torn" lovers. But the story is unique to the baby boomer generation and hits a chord within those of us in our forties and fifties.

    BI-7. What would have been lost from their story without the Vietnam tie in?

    Stephanie - I think the sense of place and time would have been lost since, as I said before, the war was so indigenous to our era. Additionally, their story would not have held the real-life edge that the war contributed to their break-up and sensibilities - nor the drama of their young love.

    BI-8. Does each generation bring different values or responses to their first love experience? For example how do you think your daughter's first love experience would differ from yours and in what ways would it be the same?
    Stephanie - My mother always taught me that love and sex and emotions transcend the generations. We often think as children that our parents never suffered the emotional pangs of relationships the way we do or did. Of course we always bring different values and responses because we are individuals.  Everyone's experience is unique but when we lay ourselves bare, if we dare, we find common denominators whether we're sixteen or eighty-six. First loves are deeply personal experiences that remain in the corners of our hearts throughout our lives. First loves and their memories leave us vulnerable. Will my daughter's experience differ from my mine? Of course. Will she and I ever share the differences? No. I'm her mother and because her father is not my first love, it's something that doesn't belong in her world. There are boundaries between mothers and daughters that need to be preserved.   

    BI-9. I understand you have a new book releasing in June. Can you tell us a little bit about this one? Is it a sequel to Jimmy's Girl?

    Stephanie - It's called The Puzzle Bark Tree and, no, it's not a sequel to Jimmy's Girl.
    The Puzzle Bark Tree is the story of Grace Hammond Barnett who grew up in the emotionally desolate company of her mother and father. Now a mother herself, Grace feels trapped in a sterile marriage to cardiac surgeon Adam Barnett and haunted by recurrent dreams of drowning. Her emotional anchors are her daughter Kate, sister Melanie and Jemma, the family's housekeeper of forty years.
    In the aftermath of her parents' sudden deaths - a tragedy that leaves her reeling - Grace is bequeathed a house she never knew existed. Leaving her penthouse in Manhattan, she travels alone to Sabbath Landing, New York, to the log house she has inherited on Canterbury Island in the middle of Diamond Lake. Here, Grace meets Luke Keegan, a local fishing guide whose family history is inextricably bound to hers....and to a devastating secret buried in the cloudy memory of her childhood. This is a story of what it means to survive and thrive against all odds and finding the love that can make us whole.

    BI-10. Anything you'd like to add for all those baby boomers out there?

    Stephanie - Just that we are really so connected. Our experience, much like the generations that preceded us and the ones to come, is unique. We're all still growing up (and growing older!) together and in this there's comfort....but dream on and always wonder, "what if?"

    BI- Thank you so much for an opportunity to interview you, and best wishes with your book!

    Stephanie is the author of the book "Jimmy's Girl - Lost love found ost-Vietnam". Jimmy's Girl is a story of first love lost and of the price to be paid for finding it again.
    Check out the book at
    Jimmy's Girl - World's Largest Selection

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