Philadelphia native resident Sonya Cobb, author of The Objects of Her Affection, talks about the inspiration behind her first book.
As a new mother, advertising copywriter, and wife of a Metropolitan Museum of Art curator in New York City, Sonya Cobb found herself struggling to balance a career and motherhood. This challenge inspired her first novel, The Objects of Her Affection, and a main character facing similar challenges.
“I was telling a very personal story, but I wanted it to be set in [the] interesting world of museum scholarship,” said Cobb, who will make an appearance at Barnes and Noble (1805 Walnut St.) on August 12, 2014.
We talk to the author about the novel, motherhood versus career, and her love for Philadelphia.
Tell us about your connection to Philadelphia. SONYA COBB: I lived in Philadelphia until two years ago. I wrote the book in Philadelphia. It was really a pleasure to write about [it] because it’s a city that’s really close to my heart and I miss it. I love going back to my story and reminiscing about all the time I spent there as a young mother.
What inspired you to write The Objects of Her Affection? SC: Well, there [are] a lot of similarities between me and my main character, [Sophie Porter]. When I first had kids, I was also trying to make a living as a freelancer in Philadelphia, and I was struggling with the way that motherhood was kind of hampering my professional life. There was a lot of adjustment that had to happen when I went through that and those are adjustments that my main character, Sophie, has to make as well. For me, it was a fun way to imagine what could happen if your life really went off the rails.
How did your husband’s career as a curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art help you while writing this book? SC: I get to experience a lot of what happens behind-the-scenes in the museum world. I go to a lot of parties with him and get to meet a lot of the donors and people who are really a big part of museum philanthropy. All of that gave me really rich material for creating this backdrop to the story. Also, to me, it’s really interesting what curators go through in their day-to-day job. Most people probably don’t realize how much detective work is involved and how much time they spend tracking down a single piece or trying to figure out the exact origins of a piece of art that has changed hands a lot of times. I’ve always found that fascinating, and I thought readers would be interested in knowing that stuff, too.
When in Philadelphia, what are your go-to spots to cozy up and ready a book?
SC: I am a huge fan of all the parks in Philadelphia. Rittenhouse Square is one of my favorite places to hang out, but I think it’s a little distracting [for reading]. For reading a book, I would say Washington Square because it’s a little bit quieter [and] less busy. I love all the coffee houses [too]. They’re really great. I certainly did the rounds while I was working on my manuscript. I was living in Fairmount, so I did spend a lot of time at Mugshots with my laptop and with books that I was reading.
Are you planning on writing another novel?
SC: Yes. Sourcebooks is planning to publish my second novel, which I’m working on now. It’s also about art and a woman’s personal journey as an artist.