From Aspen to Published

December 5, 2019  • Institute Staff

In 2015, journalist Eilene Zimmerman found her ex-husband, a successful attorney, dead in his home surrounded by drug paraphernalia. In her forthcoming memoir, Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy, Zimmerman recounts that this shocking discovery spurred her to investigate how her ex became a drug addict and how he kept his secret hidden from family, friends, and coworkers. In 2017, while Zimmerman was working on the book, she attended Aspen Words’ Summer Words writers conference, which put the book on the path to publication. Zimmerman took memoirist Dani Shapiro’s five-day workshop. “I learned a lot about pacing from her, and how important it is to time what you reveal to readers,” Zimmerman says. She also met her literary agent, Tina Bennett of William Morris Endeavor, at Summer Words, where all participants receive consultations with agents and editors. Zimmerman stayed in touch with Bennett, who went on to sell her book—at auction—to Penguin Random House.