Looking For A Great Summer Read? Three Lucky KDHamptons Readers Can WIN a Signed Copy Of Nora Zelevansky's Hot New Book: Semi-Charmed Life!!
Born and bred in NYC Nora Zelevansky has recently attracted a lot of media attention with her new critically acclaimed debut novel which focuses on New York City and its ever bustling art scene. The novel, Semi-Charmed Life clearly takes inspiration from the author’s own Upper West Side upbringing with art world parents, as well as her years as a lifestyle journalist, chronicling [with laugh out loud humor] the latest, sometimes wonky, trends in fashion, beauty, design, food, travel, politics and pop culture.
The perfect mid summer book read, Semi-Charmed Life has been named a top summer read by Daily Candy and flavorpill as well great press including a phenomenal write up in Elle magazine. Incredibly relatable Nora shares: “Semi-Charmed Life both pokes fun at and celebrates the cult of celebrity and hipster culture. It’s VERY fashion and beauty heavy in terms of name checks and plot line etc. It’s a coming of age story, but it’s also a loving satire of the art world in which I grew up in NYC.”
KDHamptons caught up with Nora to discuss her new tome, Hamptons memories, and her book singing this Saturday, August 4th at Southampton’s Book Hampton! [93 Main street, 5pm]
KDHamptons: How would you describe your career to our readers?
Nora Zelevansky: I’m a freelance lifestyle journalist, which means I cover fashion/style, beauty, food, travel, pop culture trends and even occasionally write political satire for publications like ELLE, Style.com, Vanity Fair online, Self Magazine, The Los Angeles Times and many more. And NOW — as of less than three weeks ago — I can also say that I’m a novelist! My debut novel Semi-Charmed Life was JUST released in stores and online on July 3rd, 2012.
KDH: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons? Why do you love it so much?
NZ: I think I probably first came out to the Hamptons when I was thirteen or fourteen years old; there may have been earlier times, but that’s when my memory begins of the place. My close friend’s father had a big white Cape Cod house on a long green lawn with a rose garden, a pool and a carriage house, where we could sleep and pretend we were more independent than we really were.
We came out to her house in Bridgehampton all the time during high school and afterward, even after our prom and for her bachelorette party weekend. It was especially amazing because it was a super short walk to an almost private beach — heaven. I just moved back to NYC from LA this year and I think what I missed most was the east coast summers — the balmy evenings, the lobster rolls and the warmer Atlantic Ocean — none of which you get in California. Plus, The Hamptons combines my love of lazy beach days and gourmet delis.
KDH: Personal style: do you have a Hamptons “uniform”? Which designer do you wear the most out East?
NZ: Well, I should confess that I am an accessories junkie. So, this summer I am completely obsessed with almost anything I can wear with my Dream Collective neon pink Record Bead & Rondell Necklace, Maya Brenner Bi-Coastal gold necklace and Rebecca Minkoff mini-heel/flats in leather and animal print.
And OF COURSE I wouldn’t be caught dead without my Semi-Charmed bracelets, which were a collaboration by Cayli Cavaco Reck of Style Sovereign and designer Jeet Sohal of Bare Collection and inspired by my book! A portion of proceeds goes to charity Friends In Deed. [Check the collection out here: http://www.barecollection.com/index.php?goal=categories&cat_id=36&pgn=2]
Clothingwise, I live my days in cut offs and bright buttery soft Cotton Citizen t-shirts. At night, I regularly wear this Rebecca Taylor flowy neon dress that I love with a Rag & Bone denim belt! I’ve also been living in both an Aryn K. patterned frock and the Nanette Lepore San Fernando dress in black, which has a great triangle cut out at the back.
KDH: What is your favorite Hamptons restaurant, got a favorite dish & drink you get every time?
NZ: There are so many places I want to try now that I’m back from LA, but I’d say probably Harvest in Montauk because I love the setting and the insanely refreshing mason jar cocktails with herbs plucked from the garden. I can’t pick one dish though because it’s all about what’s super duper fresh!
KDH: Describe your perfect Hamptons day in detail?
NZ: I’m not a morning person, so I’d wake up late in the morning, throw on my bathing suit right away and this navy blue Theory easy beach cover up and then read a bit of the paper. And, if I’m honest, I’d probably check to see if there’s been any new buzz on the book! I’d grab yummy lunch from Breadzilla or a lobster roll from Clam Bar and then settle either next to the pool or at the beach to read a novel (right now “Snobs”!) for the day. But I think my most favorite part of a summer beach day is after I’ve showered and put on some super lightweight dress and can wander barefoot onto the deck for a drink during magic hour. What could be better than that?
KDH: What is your little secret about the Hamptons?
NZ: Pistachio muffins at Espresso in Sag Harbor — they’re like aromatic! [And, if you buy focaccia there, you can head over to the local tomato lady on Main Street and make bruschetta!] For clothing, Rube in Amagansett is my go-to shopping spot, just slightly off the beaten path. For new, the I AM BUZZING smoothie with bee pollen and coconut water at Juicy Naam in Sag Harbor.
KDH: Congratulations on your book, Semi-Charmed Life and all the success! Has the reaction been anything like you expected?
NZ: I am so grateful that the reaction has been so positive. I didn’t know what to expect because this is my first time around with a novel and also because the book merges a bunch of different genres from literary fiction to satire to humor to mystery etc. I hoped that all sorts of people of all ages and backgrounds and interests would like it, but I couldn’t know for sure. I feel so lucky!
When Flavorpill listed Semi-Charmed Life as a replacement for watching GIRLS while the show goes on hiatus, I was SO honored. And then for ELLE.com to cover and Daily Candy to include it — I couldn’t have asked for more. But the tweets and emails I get from strangers saying that they love the book and are hoping for a sequel or at least my next novel are maybe the most rewarding. It’s somehow incredible to me that this thing I worked on in private for over two years is suddenly out in the world for public consumption. It’s incomprehensible sometimes.
KDH: To what extent is the novel based on personal experience/ and or people you have met?
NZ: This is a question I get pretty frequently because, like the main character Beatrice Bernstein, I did grow up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with a curator mother, performance artist father and brilliant poetic sister. And I also hate cockroaches [I know that sounds random, but it does play a part in the book.] I definitely wrote about a setting I knew and understood. That also goes for the fashion and beauty references in the book, which are gleaned from my years as a lifestyle writer.
But the similarities between my life and the characters in the book are superficial — their personalities are really their own. Of course, as a writer, you notice an interesting mannerism or habit in someone you know or meet and you tuck it away for later use, so I did that. The socialite Veruca’s warm and open demeanor, but also habit of looking over peoples’ shoulders while they talk or creating a boundary with an unreadable expression — those are definitely actions I’ve noted in people in my NYC and even LA worlds.
The book really both pokes fun at and celebrates the worlds of art, fashion and beauty because those are universes I LOVE with all my heart, but also think can get pretty absurd sometimes.
KDH: What’s next on the horizon? Any thoughts on maybe a Hamptons area based novel in the near future?
NZ: Possibly! This was a two book deal with St. Martin’s Press, so the next book is in the outlining phase. The Hamptons could definitely pop up in there!
KDH: Do you have one new summer purchase you are obsessed with?
NZ: I am OBSESSED with all things Mistral and have been traveling around on this book tour with the Wild Blackberry and the Gardenia hand lotions. They just make me happy. Also, for the beach, I love Kate Somerville’s newest SPF face serum, Kerstin Florian’s Lip Balm SPF 15, Tata Harper’s refreshing Floral Essence spray and Herbal Essentials lavender, lemon and mint towelettes!
KDH: The item you will save if the house were on fire?
NZ: I have an Eames chair in army green leather that I plan to still have when I’m 100. Oh, but maybe you don’t mean furniture. My cats!!!
KDH: If you could invite three people to your home for dinner [dead or alive], who would you choose?
NZ: Oh, gosh….That’s hard! Actually, can I have five? I think I’d choose Nora Ephron, Joan Didion, Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker and Tina Fey. Wow. I’m so girl power. Who knew? But doesn’t that sound brilliant and fabulous and funny?
The first three KDH readers to attend the book signing will WIN a signed copy of Semi-Charmed Life!!! So make sure to arrive sharply at 5pm this Saturday at Book Hampton in Southampton! We’ll see you there…
*For more information on Nora and her novel check out her website at: NoraZelevansky.com