- Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia
Interviews of, Articles about, and Books that Include Sonia
Articles about Sonia are also contained in the section on Belgium.
On April 19, 2022, Penguin Random House published The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet by Nell McShane Wulfhart, in which Sonia plays a prominent part.
In 1968, many U.S. airlines terminated or grounded stewardesses (who flew only on domestic flights) when they married or turned 32 or 35. U.S. airlines also had other requirements and restrictions on these women flight cabin attendants that they did not have on male flight cabin attendants who flew on international flights, were called pursers, and did the same jobs as the stewardesses. Many stewardesses and their union filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about these practices.
Sonia drafted the decision wherein the EEOC found that the airlines’ policies on age and marriage for stewardesses violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That decision was later confirmed by the courts. It was the beginning of the legal revolution in women’s rights in the U.S., which later spread worldwide.
- On Aug. 26, 2021, Growing Bolder, an organization for and about seniors, put an article about Sonia on its website.
- On Aug. 14, 2020, SRQ magazine in Sarasota had an article about Sonia by Andrew Fabian entitled "Foot Soldier for Women's Rights Retells Stories From the Front Lines."
- On July 24, 2020, there was an article in Sarasota Magazine by Kay Kipling about Sarasota's celebration of the centennial of suffrage, which mentioned Sonia twice.
- Article in Town and Country magazine of April 19, 2020, about the history of the ERA begins with a quote from Sonia.
- On Apr. 2, 2019, author Pamela S. Nadell's book, America's Jewish Women: A History From Colonial Times to Today, was published. Ms. Nadell interviewed Sonia for the book, and Sonia is included in it. The New York Times' Mar. 29, 2019, review of the book included the following statement: "From Betty Friedan to Sonia Pressman, Bella Abzug and Gerda Lerner, Jewish women had an outsize role in the feminist struggle."
- The November 30, 2018, issue of the Washington Post contained a column by Petula Dvorak about the ERA and Sonia's comments on it.
- In its October 2018 issue, Sarasota's newspaper, West Coast Woman, announced Sonia's Oct. 24, 2018, talk to the Sarasota chapter of AAUW.
- The Washington Post has a newsletter that explores identity and culture in America called About US, which included Sonia on July 13, 2018.
- On Dec. 20, 2017, Sonia was featured on the cover of the Sarasota section of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune with regard to her talk scheduled for Jan. 11, 2018, to the Ladybugs, the Sarasota chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots founded in 1929. The local chapter was founded a year ago.
- From Nov. 9 through 11, 2017, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's website contained the following article about a talk Sonia was due to deliver at the first anniversary of the Sarasota chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of female aviators that was founded in 1929.
- In the Jewish Women's Archive blog of July 27, 2017, in the entry, "Combatting Sexual Harassment and Assault in Schools," by Sara Lebow, Esther Warkov, co-founder and co-executive director of SSAIS (Stop Sexual Assault in Schools), refers to Sonia as a senior mentor and a "distinguished feminist lawyer."
- On July 1, 2017, SSAIS (Stop Sexual Assault in Schools) issued its Final Report on its action under an AAUW Community Action Grant Awarded to Stop Sexual Assault in Schools 2016-2017. Sonia is one of seven women quoted at the beginning of the report, as follows:
Two of the critical areas in gender discrimination today are sexual harassment and sexual assault. Most of the attention has, however, been focused on college and university campuses. SSAIS is performing a vital service in fighting sexual harassment and assault in an otherwise forgotten area: K-12. “Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School!,” using experts and student activists, sets forth the applicable law in this area and suggests ways in which families, students, school administrators, faculty, and the community can fight this scourge in grades K-12. -Sonia Pressman Fuentes, attorney, co-founder National Organization for Women
- Sonia in Jewish Women's Archive quiz.
- On Mar. 1, 2017, in its blog, the Jewish Women's Archive for Women's History Month recognized Jewish women lawyers and researchers of second wave feminism, of whom Sonia was one.
- Minnah Stein, a 16-year-old student at Sarasota's Pine View School for the gifted, mentions Sonia in her blog post about the Violins of Hope program brought to Sarasota by the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. Minnah's picture is at the end of her post.
- On Jan. 26, 2017, Sonia's friend and mentee, Minnah Stein, a 16-year-old student at Sarasota's Pine View School for the gifted, blogged about Sonia's escape from Nazi Germany in 1933.
- Sixteen-year-old feminist activist and fighter against sexual assaults in schools, Minnah Stein, describes participating in the Women's March (attended by 10,000) in Sarasota, FL and dedicates her first picture to Sonia.
- In connection with the 50th anniversary of the founding of NOW, the Fall 2016 issue of Beacon, the bi-annual magazine, in hard cover and online, of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA, included a profile of Sonia called "Founding (Jewish) Mother." Click the arrow at the right of the magazine cover until you come to page 4. To enlarge the print, click on the icon of the open square box to the right of the sliders that are at the bottom of page 4. To leave the page, click "Esc" on your keyboard.
- Sonia was profiled in the May/June 2016 issue of Suncoast Living Magazine, a magazine for people on Florida's West Coast.
- Sonia is included among six women highlighted by the National Women's History Project on Mar. 1, 2016.
- On Feb. 29, 2016, the Veteran Feminists of America, published an ebook of biographies and pictures called Our Fabulous Feminists, which includes Sonia. It can be downloaded for free.
- This picture of Sonia appears on page 36 of the Summer 2015 magazine, Jewish Currents, a progressive, secular voice, as part of an article called “The Jewish Left: A Visual History, Part Two: 1946-2015,” written by the editorial board of that magazine.
- On July 24, 2015, Zoe Nicholson, a feminist activist who is specializing in Alice Paul, sent out an enewsletter, which contained the following about Sonia:
"When I began to study Alice Paul to the exclusion of everything else I realized that phone interviews would be pivotal and rare options. Miss Paul was 92 when she died in 1977 and those who knew her, interned for her or worked for her hold priceless memories that need to be harvested.
"I made calls. Some were emotional. Some were poetic and nostalgic. Of course some were all about politics. But then I made a call that set my sails; it was with Sonia Fuentes. I can still hear her impatience and disgust that most do not know the brilliant strategist mind, the lifelong commitment, the legislation and international impact of Miss Alice Paul. I felt challenged and dug deeper than I had previously planned."
- An article about Sonia in the Winter 2015 issue of Gravitas, an online and hard copy magazine that focuses on women in the Sarasota and Tampa, FL areas.
- In March 2015, Sonia's story went on the website of Just Do Your Dream. To access it:
- Go to justdoyourdream.com,
- click on the drop down menu under "Stories" at the top,
- select "Speaking, Coaching, Teaching," and
- scroll down to Sonia's story when you reach that screen.
- See references to Sonia on the blog of Candy Dawson, the wife of Greg Dawson, author of Hiding in the Spotlight (March 1, 2015).
- Sonia is quoted in a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article of Nov. 5, 2014, about the political campaign for Congress of her 101-year-old friend, Joe Newman.
- Announcement of Sonia's interview on radio station WBAI in program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other things, prohibits gender discrimination in employment by covered employers, employment agencies, and labor unions.
- The Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee, Vol. 44, No. 6 (June 2014, p. 10).
- Excerpt from the June 5, 2014, "Jewdayo" section of Jewish Currents.
- Sonia participates in a Holocaust Survivors program at the Al Katz Center for Holocaust Survivors and Jewish Learning in Sarasota, FL. Front-page article, Bradenton Herald-Tribune, April 28, 2014.
- Dec. 2013 Newsletter of the E.B. Crawford Public Library in Monticello, NY, to which Sonia’s publisher, Xlibris Corp., donated a copy of her memoir.
- Danielle (DanYang) Yu Interviews Trailblazing Feminists, November 7, 2013.
- Xlibris, the publisher of Sonia’s memoir, featured her in its Author Spotlight in November 2013, and also published this article in its November newsletter.
- By Catharine Skipp, "A Conversation with the Remarkable Sonia Pressman Fuentes, J.D. '57," Miami Law Magazine, University of Miami School of Law, Fall 2013. (If you need to enlarge the text to read it in your browser, click on it with your mouse.)
- Jewish Women’s Archive, This Week in History, Week of July 1, 2013, recognizes Sonia’s work at the EEOC on the anniversary of the opening of the EEOC.
- June 13, 2013, Report of Leita Kaldi, head of the UN Women’s Book Club, Sarasota, FL, on the discussion of Sonia’s memoir, with Sonia present, on June 10.
- Sarasota's Sonia Pressman Fuentes to Receive Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award, April 17, 2013.
- On March 14, 2013, the Veteran Feminists of America (VFA), an organization dedicated to recognizing the pioneer feminists of the second wave of the women’s movement, announced the revamping of its website at www.vfa.us. Sonia is mentioned throughout the website.
- On February 21, 2013, the Women’s Herstory Initiative, Words of Women, International Women’s Day, based in Dallas, TX, announced that the essay of seventeen-year-old Talia Weisberg about Sonia on the subject “The Most Influential Woman in My Life” won the Words of Women Essay contest.
- The book, Jews of Sarasota-Manatee, by Kim Sheintal (Arcadia Publishing, Feb. 2013), contains a 2002 photo of Sonia in front of a sign about the Jewish Genealogical Society (JGS) of Southwest Florida (p. 25). Sonia gave a talk to JGS on March 2002. The link will open to page 25.
- “Boston Commons,” by Talia Weisberg, was published on January 8, 2013, in Fresh ink for Teens, an online newspaper sponsored by the Jewish Week in New York City.
- "Groundbreakers or Ground Takers?" by Talia Weisberg, was published on December. 8, 2012, in Fresh ink for Teens, an online publication sponsored by the New York Jewish Week.
- By Tyler Whitson, "Women's Rights Pioneers Strive to Influence and Inspire a New Generation," Sarasota News Leader, November 16, 2012. (Visit the Sarasota News Leader Web site.)
- "Women's Rights Pioneer Sonia Fuentes Speaks at Law School," enewsletter of the Cornell University School of Law, Oct. 31, 2012.
- By Deborah Carney, "Sonia Pressman Fuentes Interview About Feminism and Her Memoir," October 8, 2012.
- Interview with Sonia Pressman Fuentes as a Featured Writer on authormepro.com, August 30, 2012.
- By Nick Friedman, "Neighbors: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," July 4, 2012.
- Sonia is mentioned in an article commemorating the 46th anniversary of the June 1966 founding meeting of NOW. (Jewdayo section of Jewish Currents, June 30, 2012)
- Sarasota Observer, June 28, 2012: Sonia presents copies of her memoir to prizewinning young women students at Booker Middle School, Sarasota, FL.
- RTIRonline asks Sonia to comment on the death of Nora Ephron, June 28, 2012.
- Is Laura Bush feminist enough for Alice Paul Award?, Washington Post, June 20, 2012.
- Sewall-Belmont House draws fire for honoring Laura Bush, Washington, DC's The Examiner, June 20, 2012.
- Who Will Speak Out Against an Outrageous Insult to Former First Lady Laura Bush?, The Huffington Post, June 18, 2012. It says at the end of the article "Continue reading" but we don't have access to any additional material.
- Laura Bush's fight for women, Washington Post, June 19, 2012.
- Sonia initiates campaign to protest the National Woman’s Party/Sewall-Belmont House & Museum’s plan to give the Alice Award to Laura Bush, Washington Post, June 18, 2012.
- Cary Franklin, “Inventing the `traditional concept’ of sex discrimination,” Harv. Law Review, Vol. 125, # 6, p. 1307 (2012), Univ. of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper #219.
- "Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy, Sonia Pressman Fuentes and Rabbi Jonathan Katz", Longboat Key Observer of March 11, 2012. This picture also appeared in the Sarasota, FL, Jewish News (April 2012, p. 14B).
- By David Beard and Bethonie Butler, "The keys to a better life? Everyone has an opinion," February 21, 2012.
- Interview of Sonia by Talia bat Pessi, a high school student, that went online on Feb. 9, 2012.
- Feb. 5, 2012, Interview with Cyrus Webb, editor of Conversations Magazine.
- "Jean Faust, First President of the First Chapter of NOW," December 8, 2011.
- By Abby Weingarten, "Feminist Revisits Her Birth Country," November 9, 2011 (Online version | Photocopy)/Sonia with Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger.
- Generations of the Shoah International Newsletter, October 2011.
- "NOW Conference: Action, Inspiration and Connection," Now National Times, Fall 2011.
- "Sonia Fuentes, writer, speaker, and feminist activist, tells us about her life," HavaMAG Life, Issue 4, September 2011. (To access the article: Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left. Next, click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10. When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.)
- "Featured Author," Published by Sonia's publisher, Xlibris Corp., in a newsletter and on its website, July 27, 2011.
- By Slavica Monczka, "Feminist Sonia Pressman Fuentes. Her Passion for Women's Rights," appeared in the e-zine, Inspirational Woman's Magazine, on July 24, 2011, and was written by Slavica Monczka.
- On July 21, 2011, Amanda Gonzalez wrote an article about Sonia for the blog of Ms. JD, an e-zine targeted to women law students and beginning women lawyers.
- By Slavica Monczka, "Something Beautiful is Happening," seductivelyfrench.com, July 5, 2011.
- "Blending motherhood and working: Moms work by choice — and also out of necessity," Deseret News, June 26, 2011.
- "Second Wave Founder" by Sonia Fuentes, girlscantwhat.com, June 9, 2011.
- The CHJ Connection (Vo. XIV, No. 9, May-June 2011).
- Sonia’s March 3, 2011, letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is discussed in “Religious Rehab at Florida Jail Sparks Protest,” Church & State (Vol. 64, No. 4, Apr. 2011), the magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The letter is included and can be read in the Letters to the Editor section of this website.
- The CHJ Connection, the newsletter of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Sarasota, FL, December 2010.
- TILES, the newsletter of the Jewish Museum of Florida, December 2010.
- The Quotable Woman, The First 5,000 Years (6th ed., October 2010), an anthology by Elaine Partnow, includes three quotations from Sonia.
- By WomensRadio Staff, October 12, 2010.
- By Cathy B Stucker, sellingbooks.com, September 8, 2010.
- Column called “WorkWise BlogTip: Know when to be direct” by Dr. Mildred L. Culp, which appeared in the Modesto [Calif.] Bee of Sept. 6, 2010.
- Radio-TV Interview Report, "Elena Kagan—Fifty and Fabulous," July 7, 2010.
- By Joan Collins, The Sullivan County Democrat newspaper on June 18, 2010.
- By Joan Collins, The Sullivan County Democrat newspaper on June 11, 2010.
- Author Spotlight, Xlibris, June, 2010.
- By Andrea Kay, USA Today, May 17, 2010.
- By Nancy Gibbs, "Love, Sex, Freedom and the Paradox of the Pill, A Brief History of Birth Control," April 22, 2010.
- By David Ball, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 20, 2010.
- By Tamar Burris, published on the Web site, Story of My Life, January 19, 2010.
- By Marita Meegan, akgmag.com interviews, August 2009.
- By Corie Russell, She Knows, July 2009.
- By Meigs Glidewell, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 30, 2009.
- By Heather Dunhill, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 4, 2009.
- By Veronica I. Arreola, Viva la Feminista, April, 2009.
- By Amanda Joe, The Cornell Daily Sun, April 23, 2009.
- StopGap Magazine, the members’ magazine of the Fawcett Society in the UK, Spring 2009.
- Sonia, who graduated from Monticello High School, in Monticello, NY, was profiled in the October 2008 issue of the newsletter of the Monticello Central School District and is on the district’s website.
- By Bill Hutchinson, "A life of standing up for women," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 9, 2008.
- By Kristen J. Tsetsi, Journal Inquirer, March 31, 2008.
- By Evelyn L. Moya, The Docket, February 2008.
- By Linda Jimenez Glassman, "English Corner" Radio Sefarad interview, August 2007.
- By Ruth Lando, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 1, 2007.
- By Steven A. Bibb, Passages, Summer 2007.
- By Marsha Fottler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 12, 2007.
- By Erica Brody, National Council of Jewish Women Journal, Winter 2006 (pdf. file).
- Featured Author, Xlibris, November, 2006.
- By Adam Levin, Washington Jewish Week, June 29, 2006.
- By Susan Weidman Schneider, The Reporter (Spring 2006, Vol. 55, No. 2, p. 10), a publication of Women's American ORT.
- The Barrister, the University of Miami (FL) School of Law alumni magazine, Winter 2005.
- By Debra Rubin, "The f-word Online exhibit features local Jewish feminists," October 27, 2005. Sonia is one of six Washington, DC area women included in the exhibit of the Jewish Women’s Archive called Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution.
- By Jacqueline Sternberg, Washington Jewish Week, April 28, 2005.
- Sonia was one of seventy-four Jewish women included in an exhibit of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) called The Feminist Revolution at jwa.org/feminism Her write-up is at jwa.org/feminism/fuentes-sonia-pressman. She is also pictured on JWA's website.
- By Ken Millstone, The Potomac Almanac, October 13-19, 2004.
- Sonia was featured in the August 5, 2004, issue of the University of Miami Alumni E-Newsletter (she is an alumna of the law school) as follows:
Featured Alumna Sonia Pressman Fuentes Leader of the Women's Movement Isn't Slowing Down
For most immigrants fleeing Nazi Germany in the early 1930's, America was a land of freedom and opportunity that usually came with the price of hard times and hard work that left little room for philosophical or social conviction. Not so for Sonia Pressman Fuentes, JD '57, who even today is continuing to work hard in support of her convictions. Fuentes is one of the most lively and active feminist public speakers and authors today, not allowing herself to rest on the laurels of her past accomplishments or slow down in the twilight of her life. From being the first female attorney in the Office of General Counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to being one of the co-founders of the National Organization of Women (NOW), Fuentes continues today to be driven and energetic in her pursuit of women's rights. Recently, Sonia has been traveling the globe and continuing her experiential education in culture, society, and the arts. She has also spoken on behalf of candidates supportive of the women's movement, and will be featured in an upcoming documentary by Jennifer Lee regarding a revival and the second wave of the women's movement. Her memoir, Eat First. You Don't Know What They'll Give You; The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and their Feminist Daughter continues to be a popular and inspirational selection for all people in all walks of life...
- By Jeanette Friedman, Lifestyles Magazine, Fall 2003 (pdf file).
- By Sheri' McConnell, National Association of Women Writers, May 2003.
- By Michael Pollick, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, November 25, 2002.
- By Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader, July 2002.
- By the Editor of WomenWriters.net, June 2002.
- By Phil Fink, radio interview on Shalom America, WELW 1330 AM, Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 3, 2002 (not available on the www).
- By Norman Simms, Chadashot, August 2001.
- By Bill Adams, The Senior News, July 2001.
- By Jenna Glatzer, WriteRead University, May 14, 2001.
- Publishing Success Magazine, May 2001.
- By Lisa Katz, "The Making of a Jewish American Feminist: Sonia Pressman Fuentes." This is a seven-part piece about Eat First and Ms. Fuentes.
- Part 1: Book Synopsis - "Let it be"
- Part 2: Book Synopsis - A Meaningful Contribution
- Part 3: Book Synopsis - The Focus of Sonia's Life
- Part 4: Book Synopsis - The Fight for Women's Rights
- Part 5: Book Synopsis - Underground Activity
- Part 6: Jewish Q&A
- Part 7: Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You
- By Barbara Ruben, Senior Beacon, October 2000.
- Cornell Chronicle (Vol. 31, No. 31, April 20, 2000).
- By Lynn Laframboise, Word Wrangler Publishing, February 2000.
- Shalom, newspaper for the Reading, PA, Jewish community, February 2000.
- By Linda Eberharter, Bridge Works Publishing, January 2000.
- By Marlena Thompson, Washington Jewish Week, December 16, 1999.
- By Linda Davis Kyle, "Writers Around the World," August 1998.
- By Eva S., "Evenings with Eva," July 21, 1998.
- By Ellen Joan Pollock, Wall Street Journal, May 1998. (This article is a follow-up to a 1975 Wall Street Journal article by Mary Bralove.)
- By Risa Molitz, "Fuentes' lecture leads to talk on uniting women," University of Virginia's The Cavalier Daily, October 22, 1997.
- By Frankee Nesta, West Coast Woman, May 1997.
- Beginning of interview of Sonia on the early history of the EEOC by Sylvia Danovitch, assistant to the EEOC's chairman, on Dec. 27, 1990.
- By Betty Friedan, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women’s Movement, 1976.
- By Mary Bralove, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 1975.
- Excerpt from Betty Friedan’s article, “Up from the kitchen floor,” NY Times Magazine (March 4, 1973), crediting Sonia with giving her the idea to start an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fought for its constituents.
- Sonia Fuentes makes news : June 24, 1970 : Woman Fights For A Job As Park Guard
- Courier-Times, Bucks County, PA, June 25, 1970.
- By Dorothy Gilcrest, Anniston (AL) Star, October 21, 1969.
- Sonia is mentioned in several of the footnotes of the attached 1969 law review article dealing with marital restrictions on stewardesses, now known as flight cabin attendants.
- By Louise Hutchinson, "U.S. Hearings to Weigh Sex in the Skies," Chicago Tribune Press Service (July 23, 1967).
- "Women's Equality Is Pressed," Hartford (CT) Courant (Dec. 7, 1966, p. 1).
- By Sylvia Porter, Post-Crescent, May 28, 1963.
- B’nai B’rith Women’s World, November 1959.
- By Susie Marbey, The Miami Hurricane, May 10, 1957.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
by Linda Eberharter
This interview is from the Bridge Works Publishing Website.
LINDA: Sonia, I'm thrilled that you consented to share some time, thoughts and comments with my readers. I loved your book and must say you have had a fascinating career and a strong influence on women's rights along with traveling many diverse paths. What made you decide to write this book?
SONIA: The answer to this question is found in the Introduction to my book.
(The Introduction to Sonia's book follows.)
"I did not intend to write this book. I intended to write one that was altogether different--a serious, historical study. And I didn't intend to write it alone. I knew that my roles as the first woman lawyer in the General Counsel's office at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC) in 1965 and as one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) a year later were historic. I'd known that for years. For that reason, I had kept a diary during my first six months at the EEOC. I saved many documents involving my EEOC and NOW activities, speeches I had given on women's rights, and articles I had published.
"Shortly after I retired from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in May of 1993, I began to think about commemorating my role in the women's movement. But I didn't want to devote the time needed to pour through all my papers and write a lengthy tome. I wanted the book written, but I didn't want to write it, at least not alone.
"So I embarked on a search for a writer to work with me. I spent a year in libraries, talking to friends, writing to publishers and writers' organizations, and meeting with writers. What I learned was that a writer would work with a non-celebrity only upon the payment of thousands of dollars. I was loath to invest that kind of money in a project that might never result in publication.
"A friend suggested I go to the library of the Foundation Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on foundations, in Washington, DC, to research information on grants. There I could learn how to apply for a grant, which I could then use to pay a writer.
"When I contemplated going to the Foundation Center, I knew I had come to the end of the road. I had tried to get this book written for a year, with no success. I decided that if my trip to the Foundation Center didn't produce results, I would give up and devote myself to other activities. So before I left for the Center, I spoke to God, something I rarely do. `God,' I said, `if you want this book written, you'll have to make it happen. I've done all I can do.'
"At the Center, I found that grant seeking was a world unto itself. It required an expertise I did not have and could not easily acquire. Mixed in among the brochures on grant seeking, however, were a résumé, and business card from a woman named Sara Fisher. She described herself as a `Writer, Editor, Proofreader.' Although her résumé indicated that her specialty was fiction, I decided to call her. This was, after all, going to be the end of my efforts. We agreed to meet for coffee at Zorba's Café in Dupont Circle.
"At coffee, Sara and I exchanged biographical information. She had been raised as a Catholic and was, on a part-time basis, serving as the managing editor of the publication of the Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association. Her other part-time activities included writing fiction and book reviews, editing, teaching freshman composition at the Northern Virginia Community College, and serving as a tour guide in Washington, DC. `It's obvious, we have nothing in common,' I said, after hearing this. She ignored my statement and continued the conversation. After we chatted some more, she made a comment that changed my life.
"'That's not the book you want to write,' she said, speaking about my efforts to write a history of my involvement in women's rights. 'You want to write a book of humorous stories about your parents, the kind of stories you've been telling me. And you want to write it yourself. I'll help you with the editing.'
"With Sara's guidance, I started this book.
"But there were other reasons why I continued it. The raconteur and author, Alexander King, once wrote, `Whenever anyone dies, a world dies with them.' A world died when my parents died. I did not want that world to disappear without a trace. I did not want my own life to disappear either.
"And so, I wrote this book about their world and mine."
LINDA: Sonia, your writing has been online at various sites for a few years now. What opened that door for you to venture into the online world to present your work?
SONIA: I saw it as another medium in which to get published and communicate with readers.
LINDA: What influenced your decision to take the avenue of an e-publisher for your book rather than a traditional offline publisher?
SONIA: I didn't choose an e-publisher rather than a traditional offline publisher. I chose both. Xlibris published my memoirs in paperback and hardback and Word Wrangler as an e-book.
LINDA: Sonia, When you made your decision to epublish, which company did you go to first and why?
SONIA: I originally went with a company, which I don't want to name as the experience was disastrous. I chose that publisher after they sent me an e-mail or I came across their site somewhere on the web; I don't recall. They were going to publish my memoirs in paperback, hardback, and as an e-book. They were, however, unable to meet the time commitments they had agreed to, and, therefore, I had to cancel with them. Then, I went with Xlibris for the paperback and hardback editions and Word Wrangler for the e-book. At the time, Xlibris was not publishing e-books; they have since changed their policy and are doing so.
LINDA: After reading your book I am very aware that throughout your life you have taken chances and definitely made your way through unchartered waters. So it would seem natural to me you would embrace the world of epublishing. Am I correct in this assumption?
SONIA: Yes and no. I am always being told that I was brave and did risky things - but I have never felt that way at all. I always took what appeared to me the next logical step to take. The same was true of e-publishing.
LINDA: Have you purchased ebooks for yourself and if so, did you enjoy the experience? If you haven't purchased any ebooks, would you do so?
SONIA: I have purchased an e-book as a disk from Word Wrangler recently. I would love to read this book but so far the opportunity has not presented itself. I rarely have time to read non e-books as well. Ironically, since I became a writer 5 1/2 years ago, I have had scant time to read. But when I do have some time to read--before going to sleep, at the beauty shop, on a train or plane--that's not generally a place where I have my computer with me and can read an e-book.. I think e-books may become popular when there are lightweight and reasonable e-book readers that one can take along.
LINDA: In what ways are you promoting your book? With a website? Offline at your speaking engagements? Other ways?
SONIA: I am promoting my book in every way imaginable that I can afford. I have told everyone I ever met in my lifetime about the book and mailed out 1,000 fliers. Many of my friends have distributed fliers. A dear person, Danne Polk, who created a philosophy website at erraticimpact.com which has a philosophy of feminism section, offered to create and maintain a website about me and my book and did so.
I have contacted universities, Jewish and women's organizations, the National Archives, bookstores, newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations in the areas where I live: the Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia area; and Sarasota, Florida; and the Ft. Lauderdale/Boca Raton/Miami Beach/Miami/Coconut Grove area. I set up talks and memoirs-readings, at which I will sell and sign books. I constantly surf the web and write to individuals and organizations that might have an interest in my book, sending them press releases. I have publicized the book through organizations to which I belong.
I need to do a nationwide tour but when one self-publishes, one does not have a publisher to pay for the expense of such a tour or for hiring a publicist.
LINDA: You have certainly set in motion an excellent promotional campaign. It should surely pay off in the long run.
What do you think will be the future for ebooks and the epublishing industry as a whole?
SONIA: I have no ability to predict the future. I keep reading that e-books are the wave of the future. From my vantage point, that future has not yet arrived.
LINDA: Has being a writer been something you desired to do for some time? What was your career goal progression as the years went by from childhood through college?
SONIA: The answers to these questions are in the chapter to my book called "Law School."
(The following is excerpted from "Law School.")
"My earliest career goal as a child, and one that never left me, was to be a writer. But I felt that I didn't have the necessary self-discipline. My next choice of a profession, which came to me in the third grade, was to be a teacher. But I abandoned that when I realized that teachers were not accorded the respect and prestige in this country that they were given in Poland [where my parents were born and raised], according to the stories my mother told me; nor did they get much in the way of monetary rewards. Next came languages. That interest came from my background and my romantic nature. My first language had been German [I was born in Berlin, Germany.]. My second was Flemish, learned during the months my family lived in Antwerp. In the United States, I learned English. I also knew Yiddish as that was the language, along with German and English, which my parents spoke at home. In high school, I had had three years of Latin, which I loved, and also studied French. In thinking about my future career, I pictured myself as an interpreter at the UN.
"Thus, I began my studies at Cornell majoring in languages and took a fourth year of Latin. Then, I had a change of heart. I was concerned that working as an interpreter would not be sufficiently challenging intellectually. Due to my long-standing interest in interpersonal relations, psychology became my next major. I stayed with that until I realized that in order to have a meaningful career in that field one needed to get a Master's and probably a PhD. Since a college education was already more schooling than I'd originally planned, I had no inclination to go on beyond that.
"Thus, I found myself in my junior year of college needing to find yet another major. I considered many things, but law was not one of them. By this point, I was so confused I gave serious consideration to switching to home economics, a field in which I had never previously had any interest, with a major in meat cutting. I cannot now fathom what could have possessed me to think of that, and what I thought I would do with it. Fortunately, I abandoned that idea in short order and ended up spending my senior year in the Cornell Graduate School of Business and Public Administration. That school awarded graduates a Master's in Business at the end of two years, but one could attend for only one year as one's senior undergraduate year, and that’s what I did."
After graduation from Cornell, I spent four years working as a secretary for various companies. Then, because I wanted to do more with my education and abilities, I went to law school. That was followed by thirty-six years as an attorney for the federal government and multinational corporations.
From the age of ten, however, I had been writing and telling stories. But I got very little published and did not seriously pursue writing as a career. Only in 1994, a year after my retirement as a federal attorney, did I begin to write seriously and for publication.
LINDA: What are some of your favorite books?
(The following is excerpted from a previous interview with Linda Kyle Davis of writing.com and can be found on Sonia's site.)
SONIA: "Two favorite books of mine were The Education of Hyman Kaplan by Leo Rosten and Roommates by Max Apple. The first is the funniest book I've ever read. The second is both humorous and poignant. I wish I could write like these two men."
LINDA: Epublishing promises increased opportunity for many authors to become published whereas traditionally they may never have had the opportunity. What advice would you give to those authors teetering on the edge about making the decision to give epublishing a chance?
SONIA: I don't know why someone would "teeter on the edge" with regard to publishing an e-book. It is another avenue to reach the reading public. I would not opt for it over traditional publishing--but it complements it.
LINDA: Sonia, what are your expectations for your book?
SONIA: My hope for the book is that it become a bestseller and be turned into a movie. But I am very happy with every single reader that I reach. This morning in reviewing Xlibris' records of places from which people have ordered my book in the last few days, I saw that orders had come in from Toronto; Minato-ku, Tokyo; Suginami-ku, Tokyo; Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama; and Brooklyn. I can tell you that was quite a thrill.
LINDA: Yes, I can certainly see how you would be excited after looking at those orders. One has to be thrilled with the thought of their words being read by people almost on the other side of the world.
Sonia, one last question--do you think you will write anotherbook?
SONIA: I do not plan to write another book, but I hope to continue to write and publish short pieces.
LINDA: Well, I for one will continue to recommend your book to others and look forward to reading any future pieces you do.
Bridge Works Publishing, Jan. 2000