Arnine Cumsky Weiss is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and a teacher of English as a second language. She has worked in the field of Deafness for over thirty years. She is the author of six books. BECOMING A BAR MITVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES, BECOMING A BAT MITZVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES (University of Scranton Press), THE JEWS OF SCRANTON (Arcadia Publishing), and THE UNDEFEATED (RID Press) and THE CHOICE: CONVERTS TO JUDAISM SHARE THEIR STORIES (University of Scranton Press). Her second novel, SHE AIN’T HEAVY (Academy Chicago)was published in June, 2013. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Weiss and is the mother of Matt, Allie, and Ben.
Visit Arnine’s website at www.ArnineWeiss.com.
About the Book:
Just when counter clerk Teddy Warner is about to be evicted from her Scranton apartment, she bumps into beautiful, brilliant, blond Rachel – her estranged childhood friend whose mother forbid their friendship thinking Teddy was beneath them.
Teddy and Rachel reconnect over hot chocolate and under New Year’s Eve fireworks. Their discussion leads to an invitation. Soon, Teddy’s on her way to Philadelphia, where Rachel is a student, to share an apartment and begin an exciting new life in the City.
Teddy views Rachel as perfect. Rachel can’t bring herself to shatter the image by letting on that she is having an affair with a married man. Just when Teddy is starting to feel at home, Rachel insists on some privacy. Acting out her anger at being asked to stay away, Teddy indulges in a one-night stand.
When Teddy returns to their apartment the next morning, Rachel is being carried out on a stretcher – the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This unforeseen tragedy leaves Teddy alone in a strange city, with no money, no friends, and no connections.
As Teddy struggles to find her way, she meets a mentor at the same university Rachel previously attended who takes an interest in her, but with strings attached. She also develops a unique bond with the firefighter who rescued Rachel. And yet, Teddy remains committed to helping Rachel get back on her feet, at a time when no one else who supposedly loves her can accept her in this diminished way. Along the way, Teddy discovers her own strength in the roles of caretaker, lover, and friend.
PURCHASE AT AMAZON
Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?
In the aftermath of 9/11, I was fascinated with the stories of the people who were supposed to be in the towers that morning and were not. I wondered if they realized they were given a second chance and what they did with it. Although I changed the setting from New York to Philadelphia, I kept the theme of She Ain’t Heavy about getting a second chance.
Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?
She Ain’t Heavy is my sixth published book and my agent found the publisher, Academy Chicago Press.
Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?
I live in New York City, midtown east side. We’d go to The Financier for coffee.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?
I love to be with my husband and children. I’m an avid biker and walker. I love being outside.
Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?
I work full time as a sign language interpreter in a middle school in the Bronx.
In your opinion, what makes a good book great?
The story. I love a good story.
Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?
I wanted to be an interior decorator.
Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?
When she emerged over the rise in the hill, the first thing she saw were the fire trucks. And then the ambulance, and when she got closer the yellow police tape. How was she going to get into the apartment with police tape all around? She wanted to go in, change quickly, get Rachel, and they would run to the University together. But, she needed to get in first.
What was going on here? The scene was chaos with dozens of people in uniform — firemen, police, paramedics. She heard the screech of walkie-talkies and the distant blare of sirens. Teddy recognized several of the tenants from the building who appeared to be in various stages of undress. One young man wearing only boxers and a “Naked Lacrosse” tee-shirt stood bare-footed on the frozen pavement. People were stamping their feet and blowing on their hands to keep warm.
“Gus pounded and pounded on the door and ordered us to get out,” Teddy overheard one woman who lived on the third floor say.
“At least you have a coat on,” responded her roommate who was wrapped in a blanket and shivering. “I had just gotten out of the shower and grabbed this,” she said, pulling the blanket tighter around her wet hair.
“At least you thought to put on your boots,” mumbled the bare-footed guy, jealousy looking at her furry UGGS.
In spite of the cold, everyone looked okay. There was not even a trace of smoke in the air. This must be a fire drill, thought Teddy. What a lousy joke to play early on a Monday morning.
The idea of a fire drill jarred Teddy into a memory about an unkempt little girl, around 7 or 8, late for school again. As she ran toward the schoolhouse, she stopped dead in her tracks. There was her class and all of the other kids standing in neat rows outside of the building. The principal, a pear-shaped little man, croaked into a hand-held bullhorn that the fire-drill was over and the children could now make their way, orderly of course, back into the building. Teddy slid into place at the end of her class’s line, unnoticed, and entered the building smiling as she tried to smooth down her uncombed hair.
Was she thinking that she could somehow use a fire drill to her advantage once again? “Oh, I am so sorry, Professor, but Rachel and I weren’t allowed to leave,” she would report with a practiced innocence. She would add, “A prankster must have pulled the alarm, and we were forced to stand in the cold for a long time until we got the go ahead to go back into the building. I’m so sorry that I’m late. I hope you’ll still give me a chance to interview for the job.” Saved by a fire drill?
Only this wasn’t a fire drill; something was horribly wrong. She heard murmuring and looked up to see two firemen stumbling out of the building yelling for their oxygen masks. They were followed immediately by a police officer who dropped to his knees. One of his comrades helped him up and led him over to the back of the ambulance.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on my next novel about a bread delivery guy, a red Mustang and a woman on house arrest.