Interview: Susan Shapiro Barash

I recently read Susan Shapiro Barash’s book Toxic Friends and knew that readers could benefit from hearing about her story. When we think of the word “writer” we often think of fiction. But if you look back to the books that have influenced you most, I’m betting one or two nonfiction works stand out. Writing a great nonfiction book is no easy task, and if often comes from wanting to write the type of book you would also like to read. If you are curious about a specific subject and can’t find much information on it, perhaps that’s one clue that you should write it.

Susan Shapiro Barash did that and has created a strong collection of works. We’re also giving away a copy of her latest book Toxic Friends at Blisstree, so be sure to click over and enter. In the meantime, enjoy this interview.

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You’ve got an impressive background as an expert in gender issues. What first attracted you to this subject?

I have always been intrigued by the lives women live versus the faces they wear. The gender divide and the prescribed roles of women and men in our culture are also endlessly fascinating to me.

I enjoyed your book, Toxic Friends“>Toxic Friends. What prompted you to write this?

Thank you. I wrote Toxic Friends after having written Tripping the Prom Queen about female rivalry and Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie. Both of these previous books touched on the complexity of female bonds.

Did you learn anything about yourself or your own friendships in doing the book?

I learned a great deal about female friendships during the research for Toxic Friends. The ten types of friends described in the book are the result of what my interviewees experienced. While I was writing the book, I often thought about those friendships I’ve struggled with and those that have been lost. And I wondered if I’d had this book, might I have done it differently.


What do you hope readers take away from Toxic Friends?

Toxic Friends was written as a tool to better understand our female friendships: who our friends are to us and who we are to these friends. I wanted women to recognize themselves in the interviews and realize their motivations in their female friendships.

Share some of your writing goals.

Ever since my first book was published, in 1993, I have been writing books that interest me — books I’ve gone to purchase at the bookstore and haven’t been able to find. My goal is to explore how and why women feel as they do, and how much of it is nature versus nurture. And then to get the word out in an accessible, intelligent way.

What’s next for you?

A nonfiction book I’m now completing for St. Martins Press that is due out next year.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

There are several books that come to mind. Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Hite Report, The Women’s Room.

Favorite authors?

Above are a few favorite authors. Also William Styron, William Faulkner, Thomas Mann.

Book you’re currently reading?

I’m reading two books at the moment: When Everything Changed and The Help.

Where can we learn more about you?

At my website: www.susanshapirobarash.com.

Anything else you’d like to add ?

I always answer emails if someone wants to reach me.

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