Interview With Amy Koko - Author of There's Been A Change of Plans: A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Midlife by Amy Koko

In your book you share you began writing by starting a blog - How has what you write for this blog changed from that moment to now?

I love this question! When I started the blog and for years after, I wrote about going through divorce, dealing with the other woman and BEING divorced. Now, though those are still topics near and dear to my heart, I write about midlife, the ups and downs of being a writer, and trending social topics as well. I mean eventually people are going to think, “Yes, we get it, you’re divorced. What else have you got?”

How the idea to write There's Been A Change of Plans came about?

When I saw the response the blog was getting, I thought maybe a book would be a good idea. I’m not saying the New York Times was reaching out and asking “Please can we reprint this? You are so fabulous!” No. Not by a long shot. More importantly women were reaching out to me who were suffering through the process and I knew just how they felt. When I was going through my divorce, I felt totally alone. My friends were all married! I read book after book, but could not connect with any of them. I wanted to read a book by someone who went through what I was going through and lived to tell about it, not a famous actress who was able to return to her top rated tv show and pick up her life from there. It was like, “Thanks, but I’m just trying to make it into my kitchen right now, don’t think I could tackle a weekly TV show, but good for you!” This book was for the woman who was sort of blind sided by divorce and trying to make it through the day. I wanted them to know there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

When working on your first book, what did you enjoy most about the writing process? What was the hardest?

What I loved most about the process was finding the humor! When you are going through it, you feel like the world is ending, that life will never be the good again. Your life will revolve around Netflix.(Not that there’s anything wrong with that) You will never laugh again. You will never have sex again. Every day seems like a new tragedy. When I started writing it down, I was like, “Hey! Some of this stuff is really funny and I survived it. (Ex: horrendous Christmas party date and my gazongas.)

The hardest part? Exposing my ex and my children to public scrutiny. Here’s the thing though, if you are going to tell your story, you will put some people at risk. It’s just part of being a writer. You have to decide is it worth it to you. For me, it was and I do think my kids are proud of me. My ex, however, is like, “Can you find a new topic to write about now?” which cracked me up.

You take a difficult subject and write it in a way that allows readers to see the humour in tough moments and serious times. You even hold yourself up to the mirror and let us laugh. Have you always had a seriously funny side? How hard was it to be so honest?

Review - HERE!
For me, it wasn’t hard to be honest, I mean if you are writing a memoir and you are not going to be honest, then…it’s fiction, right? There is a fine line though, you don’t want to reveal stuff that is going to totally gross people out if you don’t need to, and you don’t want to make people feel sorry for you either. Like, “Look at poor me with this cellulite on my butt.” No one wants to read that. Look at poor you? Get yourself into the gym!

So yes, I’m honest but, I’m not looking for sympathy— I’m sort of putting it out there that I am a normal midlife woman with the same issues as everyone else and still was able to get through divorce, find new love and a full life!

For those who have not yet read your book, please share a bit on how you came to write for the Huffington Post and a little bit about the focus of this column.

The Huffington Post was like the holy grail for me. I wanted in! I sent a letter to the editor of the divorce section and told her my story. Imagine my absolute delighted hysteria when I saw in my email a letter from her saying, “Your story is very interesting. Would you be open to writing about it?”

Uhm, yes please! So I wrote about what it was like after 27 years of marriage when your husband tells you, in the middle of an ordinary life, on a very ordinary day, that he has found someone else.

I loved the title of your first post for Huffington - "My Husband Left Me For a Swiss Pastry Chef For Dummies." Of the do's and do-not's shared within, which do you feel is more important for anyone going through a divorce to know?

Here are my two do’s for divorce: 

1. GET A LAWYER. Trust me when I tell you, you are not in a position to always make the smartest decisions. You will be following your heart which is probably beat to hell. You are sad. You are angry. You need someone on your side to guide you.

2. This is a hard one— please dig deep and try to maintain your dignity. After my experience, that is my biggest regret about my divorce, the times I went completely out of my mind in front of my children, my attorney, people in the grocery store, my dentist, the pool guy…well, I think you get it. Sure you are going to break down, and sure you are going to spew venom, but do it in your closet. Remember that 70’s Gillette ad, “Never let em’ see you sweat?” Live by it during this time.

Don’ts? There are too many. My biggest one is don’t pay money to fight over stupid things, like a bowl made of creek rock that you bought together in Sausalito. He wanted it, so I wanted it. I fought for it, as the billable hours added up. I got it. It’s hideous. A few months after my divorce was final I gave it to my son and said, “Ugh. Here. Take this over to dad’s.”

What would you most like readers to know about you?

Gosh, I don’t know. First and foremost, I love my children. I look at them and can’t believe I made these amazing people!

My favorite snack is Doritos with sour cream. I love reality tv! My dream is to meet a real housewife of NYC or OC some day. Preferably the Countess or Carol Radziwill. I actually sort of met Bethany one day in the bathroom at LaGuardia. She came in shouting “Does anyone have a tampon?” and I was like “Ugh here’s my shot. Damn this menopausal body of mine!”

This was a favourite read for me and I am hoping there is more to come. Can we expect more books in the near future?

Yes! I am giving the public a break from my fascinating life and am working on a FICTION novel right now. It involves a mid-life divorcee, New York City and dogs. I hope to finish it in the next few months. After that, I feel a collection of essays coming on, they are already taking shape in my head.

I thank you so much for those kind words!

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