Master class with Barbara Delinsky MA’69

Published: May 2008

Writing a good book alone isn’t enough to make an author successful,” wrote Barbara Delinsky MA’69 in an April 28, 2008 blog entry, shortly before she appeared at Boston College. The author of some 76 books, with more than 30 million copies in print, says that the “business side” of being a writer—going on book tours, managing a website, blogging, and responding to readers’ interests—“isn’t very sympathetic to the creative side.” At the April 30 “Master Class: Alumni in Residence” program, the writer of “character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, and friendship” talked about her craft, current projects, and how she balances creative time with business demands.

Born Barbara Ruth Greenberg, she grew up in Newton, attended Tufts University, and earned a master’s degree in sociology at Boston College. “I wish I could say that I had a career in mind, but women were barely thinking about careers back then,” Delinsky writes in a biography on her website. “The motivation behind my MA was sheer greed. My husband was just starting law school. We needed the money.” She became a researcher for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, but turned to part-time work once she and her husband started a family. In 1980, “by fluke,” she read a newspaper article about women writers. She recalls, “Intrigued, I spent three months researching, plotting, and writing my own book—and it sold.”

At her master class, in which she is interviewed by English professor Judith Wilt, Delinsky recalls writing her first book, describes how today’s writers use “hype” to promote sales, and discusses guidance from Phyllis Grann, her editor at Doubleday. She explains why she wrote Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors (Atria, 2001), a nonfiction “handbook of practical tips and upbeat anecdotes for those with breast cancer.” The book’s proceeds are dedicated to a fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. @BC presents video excerpts of the master class. Readers can view the entire session under “Related Links” shown on the right-hand column of this page.

This feature was posted on Thursday, May 29, 2008 and is filed under Videos.
Writer: Daniel Soyer, Producer: Miles Benson