By Jennie Szink, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
If you’ve ever been on a bad date or questioned the next move in your career, then there’s a part of Skye Silver in Window Dressings that will resonate with you.
Written by frequent Observer contributor Masada Siegel, Window Dressings is a light, fun read that hits on the experiences Jewish women have had trying to navigate love and career.
The main character, Skye, starts off with the perfect job and boyfriend, but when she’s faced with the reality of his antisemitic parents and his infidelity, she lets go of him and everything else in her life that seemed stable.
She then finds herself on bad dates, situations that compromise her morals and reporting jobs that turn her into that night’s lead story.
The New Yorker’s dating and career woes hit too close to home because Siegel wrote the book from what she’s observed, whether it’s her own life or her friends’.
“I worked really, really hard, but the story practically wrote itself,” Masada said. “I lived in New York City for eight years, where you can just walk out your front door and there’s a story waiting for you. I was inundated with a lot of material, and I also have a wicked imagination.”
Before she began her first novel, Masada’s writing was in a different form. She is an international correspondent and writes for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Jerusalem Post and about 40 other newspapers around the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. A former field producer for CNN, she “quit life in New York City” several years ago and backpacked in Australia and New Zealand for three months. Now, her favorite stories to tell are travel pieces, and parts of her journeys have crept into the book.
“Skye embarks out to figure out who she is and what she wants,” Masada said. “She has a terrible sense of direction in what that is, which I took from the fact that I usually get lost, literally, on my travels, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s led me to meet lots of people around the world.”
Masada also pulled from her time in New Zealand when writing about the “mystery ring” Skye receives at the beginning of the book. The Maori Mood ring is decorated with a black spiral, which signifies new beginnings, and is exactly what Skye needs. Of course, not all beginnings are the right ones, as Masada learned herself.
“One of the bad dates Skye goes on is actually one I sat through,” Masada said. On it, Skye’s date reveals all of his dating escape secrets to her, which include getting beeped with a “work emergency” and exiting abruptly, or simply walking out on the date by making up the excuse to use the restroom. “I sat there in disbelief as the guy shared this with me,” Masada said. “I guess he thought I should be flattered that he was still there, but I just wondered why he was telling me this. I was horrified.”
Experiences like that are enough to make a girl want to give up.
“Sometimes you get to this point where dating isn’t fun anymore,” Masada said. “And, I think it’s harder for women than for men, because we live in a society where people are disposable, sadly. I wanted to make my character, Skye, overcome the bad things that happen, and overcome her life falling apart. I wanted this story to give hope. Your prince will come — maybe not necessarily in the package you expect — but things will work out.”
Luckily, for Masada, things are working out in her life. She now lives in Scottsdale and became the self-proclaimed “Fun Girl Correspondent,” creating a niche for herself in an otherwise bleak news world. She also got engaged, but that doesn’t mean she forgets what it’s like to date; and the process of publishing her book sometimes reminded her of that all-too-well.
“Writing a book is like dating,” Masada said. “You put your heart on your line, you put your energy into the project — or into a guy — and sometimes you get not-so-great results. Dating and writing are similar, but I’ve always been an optimist, so in either one you just have to keep trying until you make it.”
Window Dressings is available for Kindle and Nook download at www.masadasiegelauthor.com.