31 December 2010 ~ 14 Comments

Contest and Guest Blog by Tanya Plank, author of Swallow

I asked author of Swallow, Tanya Plank, if she would be willing to write a guest blog to tell us a little more about her book and how she came to write it and she agreed – AND she agreed to kick in a free copy of her book. If you are interested, please comment on this post, include contact information and let me know if you prefer a paperback or a digital copy (Amazon Kindle). I’ll draw a name on January 15! Drop your name in the hat 🙂

And now, I’ll turn this over to Tanya….


Hi everyone! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to chat a bit about my book, Candy!

Swallow is my first novel. It’s about a 26-year-old Manhattan lawyer named Sophie Hegel. At the beginning, she’s just graduated from Yale Law School, moved into her boyfriend’s posh Upper East Side apartment, landed her first NYC job, and received a marriage proposal from said boyfriend. Suddenly one night during dinner she begins to feel a large ball form in her throat. She’s unable to eat. The ball won’t go away, for days, weeks. She’s eventually diagnosed with the psychosomatic condition Globus Hystericus, which is where you feel an imaginary lump in your throat and which can cause problems eating, drinking, speaking, and sometimes even breathing. But the lump is not actually there; it’s purely psychological. It wreaks havoc on Sophie’s life. She loses weight rapidly, becomes mentally and physically weak, and has difficulty representing her clients adequately in court since she can’t speak very well. So, the novel traces Sophie’s journey, from finding out what in the world is causing the problem, to taking measures to getting rid of it.

The novel is also about Sophie’s life as a Manhattan criminal appeals attorney. Her job is to represent New York City’s convicted poor – those who can’t afford attorneys – appealing their criminal convictions. I worked the same job for many years, and felt compelled to write about certain things I saw, certain things that bothered me about the way people were treated by the system, the stress of appearing before the panels of judges and of dealing with the clients.

I also wanted to explore this character who has accomplished a lot and yet thinks so little of herself. Sophie is from a small town in Arizona known for housing a large prison. And she comes from a very working-class background. Her sister lives in a trailer park and is on welfare, her father makes porn videos, and her mother works in the prison. Her family doesn’t really understand or respect what she’s doing in New York. And she feels alone in New York. She’s managed, through hard work, to graduate from a prestigious law school, then get a job in Manhattan, and now she finds herself surrounded by all of these very privileged people – her fiancĂ© and his friends, her own friends, her colleagues and the judges she appears before – and they can be very condescending to her in ways that they’re not always consciously aware of. Nor is she. And that takes a toll on her self-esteem. Ironically, despite all of her accomplishments, she often ends up feeling she has more in common with her imprisoned clients than with those in her own social and professional circles.

But the book has its lighter moments as well. I tried to make it entertaining so as not to weigh it down with too much conflict and inner turmoil! I think the book has a chatty, accessible voice, and it’s loaded with very New York-y characters. One of Sophie’s best friends is an artist, and she goes to a lot of art gallery and museum openings. One of her friends is a fashion designer, so there are fashion shows. There’s an election, and she meets a politician. And there’s a doorman who figures in the plot. And of course there are plenty of New York attorneys and judges, along with the poor residents of outer boroughs, many of whom end up in prison. I’m a New York transplant, and part of my inspiration in writing the book was to convey how vibrant and diverse and fascinating the city is, so I hope I’ve done that!

Thank you so much again for giving me the time to write about my novel. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year, everyone!

Sophie Hegel is a shy New York lawyer who hails from small-town Florence Arizona, known not for the Renaissance but for housing a large prison. She’s just graduated from Yale Law School and landed her first job when, one evening, during dinner with her fiancĂ©, she feels a fist-like ball form at the base of her throat. A form of the psychological condition Globus Sensate, this “fist-ball” wreaks havoc on her life, causing her difficulty eating, speaking, and eventually even breathing. With a cast of characters that includes a pornographer father, a sister with a knack for getting knocked up by denizens of the town pen, a painter of male nudes, an eccentric Sing Sing-residing client, a tough-talking fashion maven and a bevy of privileged Manhattan lawyers and judges, Swallow is a dark comedy about the distance that can separate fathers and daughters, and about a young woman’s struggle to survive in a world of pedigreed professionals for which she has no preparation.

14 Responses to “Contest and Guest Blog by Tanya Plank, author of Swallow”

  1. Donnette Cowgill 31 December 2010 at 11:38 am Permalink

    I was a legal secretary before becoming self-employed. I get really irritated at most of the TV shows about law firms. Of course, they have to entertain, but most of what I saw was far from entertaining. Still, I enjoy reading books about the profession.

  2. Susan Helene Gottfried 3 January 2011 at 11:51 am Permalink

    No need to enter me, doll — even though I’ve been hearing a lot about this book and am intrigued by it. I’m dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I’ve got this posted at West of Mars Win a Book for you.
    Susan Helene Gottfried´s last blog post ..Swallow by Tanya Plank

  3. Linda Kish 3 January 2011 at 2:11 pm Permalink

    I understand globus hystericus. I have a swallowing disorder that they are trying to find out the cause so they can treat it. I am sure that is what this feels like. But mine is an actual esophagus disorder. I’d love to read the paperback book.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  4. Melissa Barnes 5 January 2011 at 7:31 am Permalink

    looks like a book i would love to read – i would love paperback also

  5. avalonne83 6 January 2011 at 4:54 am Permalink

    Great giveaway! I’d love to be entered.

    Please count me in. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

  6. Jeryl 8 January 2011 at 11:24 am Permalink

    Sounds like a good book. I would like the paperback copy.

  7. a real librarian 8 January 2011 at 3:49 pm Permalink

    Great giveaway!! Thanks for the chance to win!! I would like it in paperback, if I win! =)

    a real librarian´s last blog post ..The crack is back!!!

  8. s0nicfreak 11 January 2011 at 9:38 am Permalink

    Sounds interesting, enter me for a digital copy please!
    s0nicfreak´s last blog post ..Daily Digest for January 10th

  9. Michelle M. 11 January 2011 at 9:47 am Permalink

    would love this one in paperback

    mdmartin076 at bellsouth dot net

  10. Jodith 11 January 2011 at 11:37 am Permalink

    I’d love a copy of this book (paperback). It sounds like something I’d enjoy.

  11. Renee Richardson 12 January 2011 at 3:42 pm Permalink

    I have had my eye on this novel and I am just so intrigued by it. This is my first time reading an author interview and it excites me even more to read it. I would love it in paperback. Thanks for the amazing giveaway 🙂

    mrsjohnson1982 at yahoo dot com

  12. Susan 13 January 2011 at 7:06 pm Permalink

    It’s been a while since I’ve read a dark comedy, and I almost always enjoy immensely. Would love to win this, it sounds great. Thanks for the chance.

    safoga at gmail dot com

  13. RSD lawyers NYC 25 July 2011 at 6:14 am Permalink

    I’m already intrigued! Sounds like this is a great book, would love to read it :0

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