PERSONAL: Female. Education: Hampshire College, graduated, 1976; Columbia University, M.F.A., 1979.
CAREER: Author, environmentalist, and advertising executive. J. Walter Thompson, New York, NY, former advertising executive and copywriter; Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, NY, creative director/writer; also worked as a musician and songwriter.
AWARDS, HONORS: John Lennon Song-Writing Contest winner, Gospel Category; International TV and Radio Award, best writer world-wide award.
Night Swimming (novel), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor of poems to periodicals. Author of poetic notes (with James Patterson) in Paterson's novel Jack and Jill. Also author of children's books, including The Book of Natural Magic and An Orchestra of Crickets.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A second novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Robin Schwarz has spent a major portion of her career working for New York City-based advertising agencies. With J. Walter Thompson, one of America's premier agencies, for fifteen years, she handled projects for clients that included Kodak, Pepsi, Nestle, Bell Atlantic, Motts, and others, and she has more recently divided her time between working on a second novel and serving as creative director and writer for the city's Kaplan Thaler Group.
In Schwarz's debut novel, Night Swimming, 253-pound, thirty-four-year-old Charlotte Clapp is in all ways miserable. She has sacrificed much of her own life to care for her ailing mother, and has become alienated from her lifelong best friend, Mary Ann. Her only solace lies in food. During a routine medical check-up, however, Charlotte receives devastating news from her doctor: she has advanced cancer, and only a year left to live. Faced with this finite mortality, she decides to ditch her drab and dull existence in Gorham, New Hampshire and attempt to experience a full and exciting life in her final year.
At the start of Night Swimming Charlotte quits her job at the local bank, and on her last night there, robs the institution of two million dollars. Heading east, she adopts the name Blossom McBeal from an elderly woman who has recently died. Purchasing a luxurious condominium in Los Angeles for cash, Charlotte then sets about to experience what she has missed. Much of her new life centers around the pool at her condominium and Skip, the strikingly good-looking pool boy that comes with it. Smitten by Skip, who harbors a few secrets of his own, Charlotte begins swimming laps in the night, shedding pounds and hoping to become more physically attractive to him. Ultimately, however, her plan begins to unravel, leading to complications in her budding relationship with Skip and the necessity of reconciling with her past, particularly her short stint as a bank robber.
"Schwarz arouses genuine sympathy from her readers," noted Judy Gigstad in a review of Night Swimming for BookReporter.com. The novelist has "a sharp eye and a wicked sense of humor," added Kelly Hartog in the California Literary Review Online. Booklist critic Kaite Mediatore observed that in the novel "characters may behave outlandishly but they're realistic. Comic situations are preposterous yet believable." "Overall, Night Swimming is a lighthearted look at one woman's desperate need to reinvent herself," Hartog stated, while Library Journal reviewer Rebecca Kelm predicted that readers "will love Blossom's fantasy year and cheer as newcomer Schwarz wraps this one up."
While her advertising projects have garnered her many awards, Schwarz commented on the Time Warner Web site that she has found most of her satisfaction in volunteer work for organizations such as Red Cross, the Dolphin Research Lab, and the Adventurer, the last a Gloucester, Massachusetts-based schooner being refurbished as a hands-on teaching site.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Kaite Mediatore, review of Night Swimming, p. 1599.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of Night Swimming, p. 515.
Library Journal, May 1, 2004, Rebecca Kelm, review of Night Swimming, p. 141.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2004, review of Night Swimming, p. 32.
California Literary Review Online, Kelly Hartog, review of Night Swimming.
Time Warner Bookmark Web site,http://www.twbookmark.com/ (November 18, 2004), "Robin Schwarz."