Shumas, Holly (Holly Scherstuhl)

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Shumas, Holly (Holly Scherstuhl)

PERSONAL:

Education: Holds a master's degree.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Northern CA.

CAREER:

Writer, therapist. Works as a family and marriage counselor in the San Francisco Bay area.

WRITINGS:

Five Things I Can't Live Without, 5 Spot (New York, NY), 2007.

Love and Other Natural Disasters, 5 Spot (New York, NY), 2009.

SIDELIGHTS:

Holly Shumas wanted to be a writer from a young age and, after college, enrolled in a graduate writing program with the goal of earning a master of fine arts degree. However, during the second semester of the program, she decided that writing might not be the career for her. With an eye toward a more practical means of making a living, she stopped writing and instead earned her master's degree in counseling. The time spent listening to other people unburden themselves, sharing their problems and their stories with her over the course of their sessions, intrigued her in the way that writing used to, and she did not have time to miss telling stories of her own. Eventually she became a licensed therapist for family and marriage counseling, a career that was both satisfying and paid the bills. However, her interest in writing was not completely gone, and Shumas began to write again in her free time. The result is her first novel, Five Things I Can't Live Without, which was published by Five Spot in 2007.

Five Things I Can't Live Without draws heavily from Shumas's career as a counselor, as it focuses on relationships in all of their different stages, from the early phase when two people first stumble upon each other, through the adjustment of functioning as a couple, and includes all of the things that people do to ruin their relationships, both wittingly and unwittingly. Nora, the story's heroine, has what seems like the perfect life, from her good job to her collection of friends to Dan, the man she loves and with whom she is living. However, Nora is aware that she has a tendency to overthink her life and her decisions, so she decides to make a conscious choice to follow her gut instead. Her newfound, free-thinking attitude has her writing Internet dating profiles for all her friends, discovering a talent she never knew she had, and working it into a thriving business that allows her to quit her stable but less exciting job. But how long can Nora just go with the flow and not sabotage her success and her happiness? A contributor for Kirkus Reviews called Five Things I Can't Live Without a "topical coming-of-age story with a bright, humane heroine." Cindy Bokma, in the lead in to an interview with Shumas for the Conversations with Famous Writers Blog, found the book to be "a thoughtful and fun novel, one that you will enjoy and pass along to your friends."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of Five Things I Can't Live Without.

ONLINE

Conversations with Famous Writers Blog,http://conversationsfamouswriters.blogspot.com/ (September 21 2007), Cindy Bokma, review of Five Things I Can't Live Without.

Hachette Book Group Web site,http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/ (February 2, 2008), author profile.

Holly Shumas Home Page,http://www.hollyshumas.com (February 2, 2008).

Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (February 2, 2008), Lauren Spielberg, review of Five Things I Can't Live Without.

Trashonista Web site,http://www.trashonista.com/ (August 15, 2007), Diane Shipley, author interview.