Saturday, July 26, 2008

Doreen Orion IS Queen of the Road

You've heard me dish plenty about Author Doreen Orion and her new title Queen of the Road. As a frequent commenter on The Vey, you've seen her around, she's hardly a stranger, she's more like meshpucha.

I could say I read Queen of the Road, but that would be false, I actually devoured it like a vampire jonseing for fresh blood. There are bottom shelf books, read once and placed there because I adored them enough not to let them go. Top shelf books are current reads. Second shelf books I re-read passages from or will re-read because they resonated that deeply for me. Queen of the Road is a second shelf book.

I fell in love with Doreen's book for a million reasons: It made me belly laugh. I fucking screamed my way through this book. My sides hurt, my belly burned and the book fell from my hands on numerous occasions, I laughed that hard. Doreen isn't just funny, she's a comic genius. I also cried, feeling her angst, wonder and frustration while she journeyed on a bus with her incredible husband through the US. These two are soooooo in love, their romance is delicious. In the end, what I took from Queen of the Road was one of the most important reminders I hold dear to my heart, even when I forget: Possibilities exist if I'm willing to leave my comfort zone and open to change. Fear has a place in life, that's true, but why not overcome it. Risks are all they're cracked up to be and absolutely worth taking.

I am telling you, you have to read this book. Run right now and treat yourself to an unforgettable, laugh-out-loud, poignant ride.
Doreen generously agreed to do an e-interview about Queen of the Road and answer a few of my quirky ass questions because she's gracious and lovely and as sweet as can be.

What made you write Queen of the Road? You are belly-laugh-out-loud funny, Doreen. I bought many copies of QOTR for the Schwartz meshpucha.

It started as therapy. My husband dragged me kicking and screaming on this meshugena idea of his to "chuck it all" and travel the country in a converted bus for a year. Fifteen years and he hadn't noticed he was married to a Princess from the Island of Long? So, as the various disasters started piling up (me nearly getting sucked out the bus door at 60 mph, he figuring out he didn't know how to work the breaks - while we were careening down a mountain pass - and both of those just in the first 24 hours), I started writing. And drinking. Not necessarily in that order. (Hence, the fruity martini recipes that begin each chapter, commemorating what new disaster has befallen us.)

After you finished writing QOTR, in what ways did it change you?

If I had known the trip would change me in any way, I surely would have protested the whole thing much, much more. I'm sort of the Elizabeth Gilbert Antichrist in that way. But... living in 340 sq ft, you can't help but discover that there's an awful lot of "crucial" stuff that really isn't so crucial. I became a lot less materialistic - so much so, that upon our return, I was the one who suggested that instead of selling the bus, we sell our house and full-time on the road.

This Q is a bit off topic, but worth asking if you don't mind sharing, what drew you to psychiatry? Did you always want to go into the field?

I remember in 4th grade answering the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question with, "A psychiatrist." Needless to say, I didn't have a lot of friends in grade school. I considered other things through the years, of course, but really: What's an only Jewish child to do but go to medical school? (My parents were quite progressive, so I never got the "marry a doctor" thing, although come to think of it, I did marry one, anyway.)

Has psychiatry informed your writing at all? If so, how?

I like to think it's made me a better observer of the people I write about and what motivates them (including when I write memoir, myself and my family). I like to think that because that medical degree cost a ton of money.

You are married to a psychiatrist, too. It’s not like two accountants being married to each other (love to assume). I would think that because you both have such tremendous insight into how the mind works, the communication is flawless (again, jumping to conclusions, something I adore doing). Spill?

Two accountants in love! Now there's my next screenplay! I'd like to think Tim and I are putting our overly educated brains to good use in our relationship, but I'm not so sure. I've seen other shrink couples not do so well. He and I have always just gotten along. I think the main reason (he's not going to read this, is he?) is that he's just so darn nice. When I (very occasionally, of course) start nattering at him (look people, it's in my genes), rather than engaging me in my mishugas, he somehow manages to turn it around and gets me to laugh at myself. A true Goy Wonder.

Back to Queen of the Road... What is your favorite part of the book?

When my agent first read it, she said, "You know, this isn't really a travel memoir. It's a love story." So, I guess writing about my relationship with Tim, aka Project Nerd, Domestic Superhero, was definitely the most fun. (Again, he's not going to read this, right?) I loved reading those parts to him, as well. That's actually how the last chapter came about. Because of all the disasters, as well as the sections about him and our relationship, Tim started exclaiming, "People are going to think I'm an idiot!" I kept telling him, "What do you want from me? Get your own book!" So, we compromised on his own chapter: Tim's Rebuttal. Unfortunately for Tim, I helped him write it.

What do you want readers to take from QOTR?

First and foremost, I want them to laugh. But, along with humor, I'd like readers to take away some of the life-lessons we learned. As a shrink, I know it often takes something terrible for people to realize what's truly important in life. That's why so many inspirational memoirs center around some tragedy the author went through. The "bus thing" taught us not to wait, to live our dreams (OK, Tim's dream) now. It also taught me not to let fear get in the way of living one's dreams. It wasn't soon after we started out that I developed a bus phobia, after all.

We also met so many diverse, interesting people all over the country. Yet, we found that we all have one thing in common: We want to love and be loved. We really came to understand that nothing really matters other than being with the people you love. I know people say that all the time, but how many of us really live it? Tim and I were guilty of that, as well - of supporting things and a lifestyle. But, spending 24/7 together in 340 square feet with our 60 lb dog and 2 cats who hated each other, we found we were happier than we've ever been.

Finally, even though my life was comfortable and I would have said I was happy before we left for our bus year, looking back, I would have to admit it was rather rote and routine. I hadn't realized how crucial it is to keep challenging and stretching oneself. The "bus thing" forced us into new situations all the time - even the more difficult ones (fire, flood, armed robbery and finding ourselves in a nudist RV park to name just a few) turned out to be learning experiences.

One of the things you mentioned in your NPR interview that resonated hard with me was the importance of not putting things off until "later in life". Can you please elaborate on this and how QOTR ties into that idea?

Like many people, until we reached our late thirties, Tim and I had gone through life feeling rather invincible. Not only was it inconceivable that something bad could ever happen to us, even our very mortality seemed suspect. When we hit our forties, this changed, as some of our friends experienced sudden, unexpected tragedies: A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. A colleague died of a heart attack in his sleep. Both of us, for the first time, could feel creaks and aches in bones we hadn’t thought about since anatomy class. Over the years, we each had treated people in our practices who had looked forward to all they planned to do in retirement, but when the time came, were too ill to travel or too devastated by the death of a spouse to live out their dreams. So, when Tim was still trying to convince me to hit the road and explained, "It’s just something I really want to do – while we’re young and can still enjoy it. I’ve done everything right all my life, the way I was supposed to do it. Now I want something for me. And I want it with you.” He had me. That, and we're fortunately, since we knew we'd have work on our return from taking a year off: Neurosis is a growth industry, after all.

You are currently touring the country doing readings and book signings, where do you post your dates?

There's an "
appearances and events" page on my website. Thank you, Katie!

You’ve created many humorous, mini-video readings that are so much fun to watch. Where can I access each of your videos?

On the
travelogue section of my website, where I've also just released several podcasts. Thank you again, Katie!

What new projects are you working on now?

I've started working on a new book, but if I told you about it, I'd have to nag you to keep it under wraps until you wished I had killed you, instead.

You can find Doreen all over the Internet at her website, blog, RedRoom, Amazon, Shelfari, Facebook and GoodReads. Friend her. Read her. You will love her!

PS: Click on over to Celestial Seasonings "Adventure at Every Turn" Book Club, they've chosen Queen of the Road as this summer's book! They're also running quite a festive contest well worth entering.


Doreen Orion said...

When someone as supremely, fabulously, riotously hilarious as Katie thinks you're funny... well, there's nothin' funny about that. It's just high praise, indeed. (Glad she liked the inspirational stuff, too.)

(Now, off to see what new hare-brained scheme the Goy Wonder is up to. I actually caught him surfing the net on sailboat sites! Why can't I have a normal husband who surfs for porn?)

Fran said...

Wow - if you say it is that funny, then it is that fucking funny.

I must read this!!!

The Goy Wonder, oy I love her already.

Joe said...

I especially love her explanation of "not putting things off until later in life." It's an inspiration.

Dale said...

The interview was excellent and the book sounds pretty fantastic too. I'll have a look for it.

Katie Schwartz said...

Doreen, You are so much fun to interview. Thank YOU.

I feel a sailboat adventure is in your future, dearie.

Katie Schwartz said...

FranIAm, Donchya just?! She's a riot. The woman is hysterical. You will scream and love the book. Goy wonder has become one of my favorite things to say now.

Katie Schwartz said...

Bubs, right?!?!? I was so inspired by her book. I made a list (not to sound passive) of things I'd been putting off because I want to do them now, not wait.

Katie Schwartz said...

POTD, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I think you'll dig Queen of the Road a lot. Doreen has an edge and a flawless sense of humor. We dig that, child.

Doreen Orion said...

"A sailboat adventure in your future."

What did I evah (as you might say) do to you???

Doreen Orion said...


Wanted to share with you and your readers, QUEEN OF THE ROAD just went into 5th printing!

Thank you SO much for your wonderful support.

Katie Schwartz said...

If anyone can handle that adventure and embrace it, it's you, Doreen. I just know it.

Katie Schwartz said...

WOW! CONGRATULATIONS, DOREEEN! Queen of the Road has been out since June and it's already hit it's fifth printing.

I'm feeling an Oprah meeting is in your future :)

Doll, I'm so happy for you.


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