(Toby D. Schwartz)
PERSONAL: Born in Brooklyn, NY; married. Education: American University, B.A.; New York University, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home— MD. E-mail— [email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Where magazine, New York, NY, former editor and critic; Harcourt Brace, New York, NY, former writer and senior editor; has also served as senior vice president for a network of transplant banks.
(As Toby D. Schwartz) Mercy Lord, My Husband’s in the Kitchen and Other Equal Opportunity Conversations with God, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1982.
My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) (novel), Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2006.
Contributor of poetry, short fiction, and articles to periodicals, including Reader’s Digest, Family Circle, McCall’s, and Parents. Also contributor of medical articles to professional journals.
SIDELIGHTS: Toby Devens’s debut novel, My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), follows Dr. Gwyneth Berke, a wealthy and successful gynecologic oncologist who finds herself suddenly single at age fifty-four. After Berke’s husband reveals he is gay and leaves her for another man, she divorces him and begins devoting her time to her practice and to caring for her elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. With the help of her two best friends, the widowed Kat and the newly single Fleur, Berke begins dating again, finding little success at first. She then falls for Simon York, a charming British doctor who sweeps her off her feet. Over time, however, York proves too good to be true, and Berke again turns to Kat and Fleur for advice and comfort. “Refreshingly, these women stick together through travails tougher than mere dating disasters,” noted a contributor in Kirkus Reviews. According to Maria Hatton, writing in Booklist, My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) concerns “women successful in life, in friends, and in their chosen profession, realizing what’s really important as they reach middle age.” Though one critic faulted Devens for addressing too many themes, Library Journal reviewer Lesa M. Holstine observed that the work “does cover an age group usually left out of the literary loop,” and the Kirkus Reviews contributor believed that My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) “still manages to get to the heart of being a 50-year-old single woman.”
Devens told CA:“I’ve been writing since I was able to hold a pencil. At the age of seven, dissatisfied with Grimm’s fairy tales, I revised them to suit myself. More princesses, fewer ogres. I was a teenager when the process of creative writing jelled for me. Adolescence is a tumultuous time, so the idea of creating one’s own world, of having control over the destinies of one’s characters, is especially enticing. Plus, I’ve always been a voracious reader and have a vivid imagination, which is the perfect combination for a writer.
“My work is influenced by Elizabeth George, though our writing styles are so different—hers deep and intricate, mine bright and breezy—demonstrates that good writing untangles an emotional story as well as a riveting plot. Laura Lippman, who recreates Baltimore neighborhoods so marvelously, reminds me to enrich my story with local color. And Susan Isaacs’ wit inspires me to ‘find the funny’ in almost every situation.
“The most surprising thing I’ve learned, in writing as in life, is that perseverance is almost as important as talent. That, as my father used to tell me, ninety-nine percent of success in any endeavor is just showing up.
“My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) focuses on women who take on the challenges of a particular life stage with courage and humor. I intended for it to celebrate the universal community of women who help each other through the tricky parts. If the book shows a single struggling woman that she’s not alone and that what seems a daunting and depressing phase can be turned into a sometimes hilarious and most certainly enlightening adventure, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do.
“And I love to make my readers laugh.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, July 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), p. 29.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2006, review of My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), p. 591.
Library Journal, September 15, 2006, Lesa M. Holstine, review of My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), p. 47.
Publishers Weekly, May 15, 2006, review of My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), p. 44.
Toby Devens’s Home Page, http://tobydevens.com (January 15, 2007).