A Falling Knife Amazon cover

Judith Deborah: Anatomy of A Falling Knife (interview, part 2)

It’s been quite a few weeks since I published the first part of my interview with Judith Deborah, the author whose debut novel A Falling Knife has garnered well-deserved rave reviews – it’s a terrific read! As was the case last time, I was somewhat tardy in sending her my questions and unfortunately caught her in the middle of a very busy time; still, she answered every question in-depth and her answers are wonderful and very enlightening. As I did with part 1 of this interview, I have published the questions and answers that make up the interview, unabridged.

With apologies for making you wait so long for this, the second part of the interview, let me waste no more time. Here it is: part 2 of my interview with Judith!

A Falling Knife Amazon cover

A Falling Knife by Judith Deborah

Q. Your book A Falling Knife has various different threads that all connect as the story unfolds. Did this book present itself to you in scenes which you eventually linked together, or did you devise the scenes once you had decided the plot (or possibly a combination of both)?

A. Very much a combination. There were scenes I had in mind long before I had a clear sense of the complete story, but ultimately I found I had to put together an outline to get the book to work.

Quite a few of the most important elements in the story didn’t clarify in my mind until well into the writing. As they emerged, I had to stop, re-block the story, and make sure everything still made sense. The logic and chronology of the story were particularly critical since it’s a mystery; you just don’t have the latitude to play fast and loose with either element in this genre. I had to keep checking and rechecking that there weren’t any plot holes and that the various storylines all fitted together in time.

I started writing the book with little more than a minimal sketch of the story — a vague listing of what was going to happen to whom and why — but the story quickly got rather complicated, and I tied myself in knots several times over. Also, I started writing the book before the global financial correction that began in 2008. When I got going, there was still a roaring bull market in the US with one can-you-top-this buyout taking place after another. The original story revolved around an invented version of one of those massive buyouts. Then the bottom dropped out of the US market, everything changed completely, and my storyline was instantly dated. It happened several times that a storyline I had constructed was upended by events.

In the end, to preserve my sanity and increase the likelihood that the book would ever get written, I shifted away from the nitty-gritty of the buyout and focused more on the personal stories and the ways they interlinked. It took me a long time to figure out that this was a good idea, and I ended up throwing a ton of writing (including whole characters) out the window. The final story is so different from the original version as to be scarcely related.

I learned two things from all this: that it’s unwise for me to tether a story too closely to events in recent memory, and that I’m the kind of writer who has to hammer out at least the scaffolding of a story before sitting down to write scenes. Every time I try to just wing it and write without any sure idea where I’m going, I end up either paralyzed by writers’ block or writing myself into a corner and then chucking the work. The outline I ended up constructing for A Falling Knife was never formal — it was always more of a long scribbled list, and I tinkered with it all the time — but it gave me some guidance and relieved me of a degree of writerly anxiety. It was far more satisfactory to sit down in the morning and know what I was supposed to accomplish by the end of the writing session than it was to just sit there waiting for inspiration.

Q. There are some scenes in the book which expose certain characters’ sometimes very raw and painful emotions. I find those scenes gentle, yet uncompromising. Do you find such scenes difficult to write and how do you approach them?

A. I really like writing scenes like that, in part for the vaguely disreputable reason that I enjoy trying to generate an emotional response in the reader. I like writing scenes of characters facing down their demons alone, but also very much like excavating the subtexts of emotion that underlie conversations that are calm and quiet on the surface — figuring out ways to convey emotion obliquely rather than head-on. In the book, during some of the most emotionally raw conversations, nobody raises his or her voice, and in some cases the subject under discussion is something entirely beside the point.

Writing (obliquely or otherwise) about whatever it is that turns a character inside out can be a particularly rich and satisfying vein to work when the character I’m writing about is not particularly cuddly. In Scott Nickerson’s case, he’s a remote, rather austere personality (not toward everyone, but toward most people). In writing him, I wanted to get across why he is the way he is, and to get the reader to care about him despite his remoteness. The detective, too, is an emotionally guarded character. With him, I wanted the connections he feels to other characters in the story — some of which surprise him — to function as clues both to his nature and to the solution of the mystery. For every character, I wanted to convey their emotional states as directly as possible — to convey the sharpness of the pain they feel — but to do so in a way that was respectful, rather than gratuitous or lurid.

As far as method is concerned, I usually start these intense scenes with sensory images in mind (rather than, say, snippets of dialogue). Imagining a visual as it appears in the mind of a character, or a memory of the way something smelled or sounded once to him or her, helps me get inside them and (if they happen to be in company) to put words in their mouths that sound credible.

Q. I have no head for numbers and no knowledge, really, of the financial world, yet I found myself quite able to follow the plot points specific to these issues. Since you move in financial circles as part of your work, was it a challenge for you to write at a level where readers with little to no knowledge of financial trading would be able to keep up?

A. I made a deliberate decision early on that I was not going to simplify the finance talk but would just trust the reader to keep up. It would have sapped that side of the story of all its juice to drain out the language. I was hoping the reader would be charmed by the vocabulary and syntactical rhythms of the industry — as I was, when I came into it as a complete outsider — and would ride the financial plot points like the crest of a wave. (The same pretty much applies to the science and math in the story.) You’re right; it was a bit of a balancing act to keep the dialogue and the storyline authentic and still keep it interesting for readers with no connection to the finance world. I cut a lot, did my best to keep what remained true to the characters, and trusted readers to connect the dots.

Several nice financial double entendres presented themselves in the writing of the book, by the way. One is the title, which has a Wall Street meaning (“never try to catch a falling knife” = don’t buy a stock that’s in free fall) as well as an obvious genre-specific meaning, and which was the original germ of the story. Another is the phrase “red herring,” which is well known to mystery readers but has a completely different meaning inside the finance world. It made me very happy to use that phrase in its financial context within the confines of a mystery.

Speaking of finance language, I had a great time writing the character of Cal Buckholtz, who is a trader and characteristically profane. It was a lot of fun getting inside that head.

Q. One of the plot points of your book addresses a widely debated issue: the interlacing and often overlapping interests of the financial markets and the pharmaceutical industry. Is this an issue close to your heart, or was it simply part of the story you wanted to tell?

A. Hmm. I wouldn’t say the issue itself is particularly close to my heart. I do have a soft spot, however, for mathematicians and scientists, who are quite foreign to me and who interest me because of that foreignness in a deep, almost anthropological way. (I’m a committed anthropologist: I married a mathematician.) I feel a great fondness for the world of finance, too (how’s that for an unfashionable sentiment?) since my time within it introduced me to such entertaining people. I was glad to figure out a way to represent these three worlds — arenas that are all important to me for different reasons — in story form.

Q. I found myself very invested in Scott’s character and found that he truly jumped off the page for me, he felt real; Evan grew on me as the book progressed. To me it felt similar to the way you immediately click with some people, yet take longer to connect with others.  What approach do you take to constructing a character and to what extent do you borrow characteristics, traits, habits, personalities, from people you know?

A. It’s easier for me to tell you what I don’t do in this regard than what I do do. I don’t do any of those elaborate and often-recommended questionnaires about characters (what’s his earliest memory? what’s his favorite food? who was his first love? what is he most afraid of? etc), which strike me, to be honest, as a waste of time. I think I grasp the principle behind this method — that your advance knowledge of the character will provide some kind of authenticity once you finally start writing about him or her — but on the few occasions I’ve tried it, it hasn’t worked out that way at all. All it amounted to for me was pointless busywork, which is the opposite of writing; it’s an extended throat-clearing exercise that produces (at least in my case) reams of ersatz, arbitrary character details that will be largely forgotten once actual writing gets underway and the characters start developing organically. I’ll go so far as to say that for many writers this is an insidious exercise, because it encourages the writer to feel virtuous — look how much work I did today! — while completely failing to advance the book.

I’ve read writing manuals by extremely successful writers who swear by this technique, so obviously my experience doesn’t apply to everyone. But to my way of thinking, you figure out characters by writing them, not by writing about them.

As for what I do do: Nobody in the book is modeled directly on anyone in my orbit. For me, the starting points for characters are vocal patterns and names.

By vocal patterns I mean the character’s active vocabulary and the rhythms of his or her speech. Once I get the characters talking, either to each other or inside their own heads, I can see them much more clearly, and the other elements you mentioned begin to emerge. I find that the words a person uses — the words that spring to his mind and that he assumes his interlocutor will understand, and the rhythm that emerges when he strings them together — can unlock a character much more effectively than deciding arbitrarily that he has green eyes, loves Canadian bacon, and can’t commit. I had the advantage in A Falling Knife that I was writing primarily about New Yorkers — a population I grew up with and which has a distinctive way of speaking. The rhythm of Yiddish-inflected New York speech is very familiar to me.

Character names are also extremely important, and I can’t quite explain why. I had trouble with the names of two of the main characters until well into the writing, and didn’t really get their characters right until I got their names right. In some cases, names were so clearly right from the start — and the accompanying voices were so distinctive and clear in my mind — that the characters were relatively easy to write. (Solly Pinsk and Cal Buckholtz come to mind.) When the name is right, it’s linked in my mind with a vivid physicality.

It’s interesting that you say you connected more readily with Scott Nickerson, despite his somewhat forbidding personality, than with the detective, Evan Adair. I wonder if that has something to do with a choice I made right at the beginning: that in contrast to my treatment of the other characters, I was never going to describe Evan physically. There are one or two oblique references — Evan scratches a salt-and-pepper growth of stubble at one point, and there’s a suggestion that he’s on the tall side — but I deliberately said nothing about the color of his hair, how much hair he has, how he wears it, what clothes he chooses, eye color, skin tone, how he’s aged, or anything. It was an experiment; I was curious to see whether readers would construct those visuals for themselves. What it might have accomplished instead was to keep readers at more of a distance from Evan than I had intended. I’ll have to think about this some more.

 Q. I like the level of detail in the pharmacogenomic and forensic analyses as well as the related descriptions and explanations. Did that require a lot of research, and did you do it all in preparation, or was some of it done ad hoc as you made progress in the story? Did you ever find yourself getting distracted or carried away by your research into this field (this tends to happen to me a lot)?

A. There was a lot of research involved, but I didn’t do it ahead of time. After I was well into the book, I went to New York and spent some time talking to street cops and detectives, and had an extensive back-and-forth over email with a doctor at the New York medical examiner’s office to get all the forensics straight. I also worked closely throughout the writing of the book with a scientist friend in England who helped me construct the science side of the story so it was both internally logical and authentic in terms of detail. On the finance side, I read a stack of memoirs and other non-fiction titles by people inside the industry, and also talked to people. All this was going on while I was writing, not before I started (otherwise I doubt I would ever have written the book at all).

I love research and almost always have to force myself to stop. There’s always something else that can be checked, some other element to learn about that might serve the story. After a certain point I have to go cold turkey or I’ll keep researching forever.

And thus ends the second and last part of the interview. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting it. It was a pleasure going through the interviewing process with Judith and I appreciate her commitment and dedication in taking the time and showing me such insight into her writing process.

You can also find Judith on Facebook and Twitter.

Judith Deborah photo

Judith Deborah

Judith Deborah photo

Meet Judith Deborah: an asset to the writing world (interview, part 1)

Judith Deborah photo

Judith Deborah, author of "A Falling Knife"

It was not too long ago that my husband tapped me on the shoulder and said: “You have the Kindle app on your iPad, don’t you? You should get this book!” He then pointed me towards A Falling Knife by Judith Deborah. Since my husband has very good taste, I didn’t hesitate and promptly downloaded the Kindle edition, which was free for one day only. I never regretted my download: A Falling Knife is an engaging, intelligent and well-written book; for testimony besides my own see this review from Kirkus Reviews, as well as Amazon’s review page.

In addition to being a talented writer, Ms Deborah is also a very gracious woman. When I asked her if she wouldn’t mind me publishing a short interview with her on my website, she promptly agreed, and was subsequently very patient with me when I sent her my questions somewhat later than I had initially told her I would.

She has really given my questions a lot of consideration and her answers are thoughtful and offer a good deal of insight into Judith’s writer’s mind. I have published them, unabridged, in this, my first of 2 interviews with her. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting the interview.

Q. What do you love best about writing?

A. It feels very good to read something you’ve written that you know you can be proud of — something you know you’ve worked on very hard, that you’ve polished until it gleams. Also, positive feedback is a huge positive. When you’re writing a long piece, you’re all alone for very long stretches, and it’s easy to lose all sense of the quality of the stuff you’re churning out. It’s a tremendous relief to come out of the cave with the book and have people say nice things about it, especially when they’re total strangers.

Individual pieces offer their own pleasures, too. In A Falling Knife, I enjoyed constructing the plot of the mystery, and had a great time writing two characters in particular — the Orthodox Jewish finance blogger Solly Pinsk and the foul-mouthed trader Cal Buckholtz — because I enjoy the way they talk. In my earlier writing days, I was a big descriptive scene-setter, and tended to lean on that at the expense of interactions between characters. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to enjoy writing dialogue best.

Q. What do you find the most difficult about the writing process?

A. In terms of process, there’s a world of difference between putting a plot together and actually writing scenes. Every time I start a new scene, I’m thrown off badly by the blank screen. (I’m never more industrious a doer of laundry than when I have a new scene to write.) Part of the reason the book took so long (three years) was because I procrastinated so badly every time I had to start a new scene.

Q. This is a question I think every writer gets: do you have a set writing routine, and if you do: what are its origins?

A. I write every morning from 8:00 or so to about 12:30 or 1:00 pm. Before I start work, I allow myself 30-45 minutes to wander around on the Internet reading random things — movie reviews, news items, blog posts by some fashionistas whose writing I enjoy — and to read and answer email. Once I’ve got all that out of my system, I can focus. I’ve learned from experience that there’s no point in trying to hector myself into writing before I’ve had my world news/celebrity gossip fix. It’s like taking kids to the zoo: you might as well get them the ice cream when you first arrive so they can forget about it and pay attention to the animals.

I write on a Mac. I used to write by hand on legal pads, but those days are long past (although I still fetishize pads a bit — I love narrow rule — and really enjoy a nice dark pen). I make liberal use of the Mac’s Stickies application, and have dozens of virtual Post-Its all over my computer screen reminding me of tasks I have to complete for the project.

I have a tiny, overstuffed office in my apartment, but it’s so overrun with books and papers that I ended up writing most of A Falling Knife at a cafe. We’re building a house, though, and I’m going to have a lovely office in the attic with a slanty roof and plenty of space to shove stuff out of sight. That’s where I’ll be doing my writing once we move in.

Q. You’ve made brief mention on your website of your reasons for self-publication. Can you elaborate a little more on what you perceive is the future of self-publishing and how you think it will affect the publishing industry?

A. Just this morning I read a comment by a friend on Facebook, enthusiastically seconded by a series of other people, about a collection she’d just read of dystopian science fiction short stories by a relatively unknown author. In recommending those stories, she was completely defying the conventional wisdom in the traditional publishing industry that nobody wants to read short stories anymore unless they’re written by established names. The self-publishing movement has revealed that many allegedly nonexistent audiences are alive and well, and hungry for material.

The industry has set up barriers to entry based on quality, which is a fine thing in principle (if tough to pull off fairly when the product is judged by such subjective criteria). Where it gets into trouble is when it arbitrarily dictates what audiences want. I know that as a reader, I’m frustrated by the glut of cookie-cutter suspense novels and the relative dearth of clever, old-school, non-cozy mysteries. When I was trying to publish A Falling Knife the traditional way, I was told over and over again that if I turned it from a straight mystery (where the detective assembles clues and deduces a solution) into a suspense novel (where the detective is put in greater and greater physical peril), my odds of success would be much higher. That would have completely changed the character of the book, and I just couldn’t do it. I had to publish it myself because (according to the conventional wisdom) there’s no audience for mysteries by unknowns, even with contemporary settings, that subscribe to a classical, Golden Age mystery structure.

Now, the joke might be on me — the book’s sales are not exactly busting up the charts — but reviews are consistently positive, and there does seem to be an audience for this kind of material. It’s an audience that I’m convinced can grow, and its growth will not necessarily be predicted by industry professionals. I am much happier getting my stuff out there and serving that audience than tossing it in a drawer because of an industry presumption that the audience for it is too small to matter. It’s true that self-publishing enables the foisting onto the public of a great deal of subpar work, but readers are capable of detecting quality. I firmly believe that the best books will rise to the top by virtue of popular acclaim.

Which brings me to the other huge change wrought by self-publishing: the new pricing model. There are two elements to this: the low-priced ebook (defined as anything up to $4.99, say) and the free book. Both of them depend on word of mouth to work.

I used to think giving away books was bananas, but have come to see it’s actually quite brilliant. If you have a backlog and you give away some work for free, that work — provided it’s good enough — will encourage readers to come back for more. That’s where the sales happen. And if you keep the price of your other books low, those readers — people who already value your work — will be more willing to take a chance on the rest of your material, and to tell other people about it. I like the anti-elitist element of this trend — should anybody really be expected to shell out $26.95 for a novel? — and support the principle of trusting the audience to decide for itself what it wants to read and to winnow out quality work on its own.

Q. A Falling Knife is published as “An Evan Adair Mystery”. Does this mean there will be more Evan Adair Mysteries and can you say anything concrete about Evan’s next appearance, such as an expected publication date or even just whether you are working on a draft, or possibly even something about his next case?

A. The project I’ve been working on since A Falling Knife came out is not a mystery — it’s sort of a comedy of manners — but there is a historical subject I’m interested in that I would like to use as the backdrop for another Evan Adair mystery. I’m going to have to keep it under my hat, though. I’ve always found the brainstorming of ideas while they’re still in the germinal stage to be disastrous. Talking about ideas too early has a calcifying effect on them, at least for me.

Q. Finally, a question that interests me personally: how have you managed to combine work, family and writing a book? (I have a husband and only one child, but seem to be laboring under a permanent lack of energy and time. Any insights into this are more than welcome!)

A. I have three young children, and work is a total impossibility when they’re in the house. That means that my sole work time is the morning hours, when all of them are at school. When they get home, it’s all over. Children are sociable creatures, and it’s just not realistic to ask them to let Mommy sit in her office without being disturbed for any length of time. Nor is it practical when they’re still young enough to require supervision.

I don’t mind the truncated workday for two reasons: the morning is my most creative time in any case (I edit well in the middle of the night, but only seem to be able to do new writing early in the day), and I’m the kind of person who requires deadlines to get anything done. It’s helpful, in a maddening kind of way, to look at the clock and know that I’ve got just one hour left and no more. I’m sure a graph of my work time would show a spike in productivity every day approaching the time I have to go pick up the kids.

I’ve wondered sometimes whether the book would have been written faster if I didn’t have such limited work time, but I’m not convinced. If I had all the time in the world, I probably wouldn’t get anything done at all.

I still (to my husband’s chagrin) tend to collapse pretty soon after my kids go to sleep. When I’m well into a piece, I’ll sometimes stay up late into the night to make use of that quiet, peaceful time (editing in the middle of the night is very pleasant), but I pay for it when I have to get up at 6:15 the next morning.


Check back soon on my site for part 2 of my interview with Judith Deborah, which will focus more specifically on A Falling Knife.

You can also follow Judith on Twitter. Her Twitter handle is @JudithDeborah.

A little light reading (or: confessions of a bag lady)

A while ago I went to meet a fellow copy writer to discuss the possibility of working together with her on a big project. (The project fell through, by the way, because the client in question had decided to focus on more urgent matters of internal restructuring – this is a euphemism for “We’d really like to hire you, but we need to downsize first.”) She asked me to bring with me my portfolio, samples of my writing. Now, I’ve been writing for a long time but the fact of the matter is that a lot of the pieces I have written have never seen the light of day. At first this was because I was too nervous about showing them, after that – and prior to this blog – it was because I was a bit stumped as to where to find a forum to display my scribblings. The point I’m, very slowly, getting at is that I was quite surprised to find that I had produced a decent size and varied body of work, ranging from blog posts for organizations to informative articles on various subjects to promotional documents for various clients to short articles on light, fun topics.
My writing style has changed and the content of the pieces I write has certainly altered and, I suppose, matured. Keeping that in mind, I decided to publish one of the articles I came across while putting together my portfolio. I wrote this article more than five years ago, and it is a pretty superficial piece about, ahem, finding the perfect bag (which I still haven’t managed to do; the considerations in my article still hold true!). But it does show a lighter side to my writing that I don’t really show much anymore, largely because these days I am focused much more on issues that require a more serious approach and style. Evolution, a natural process.
Still, for old times’ sake, I present to you “Bag Lady”, by my younger self. Enjoy!

Bag Lady (2006)

If there is one universal truth, it is that women will always have something to complain about in their men, and likewise the other way around. One of my husband’s pet peeves is my collection of handbags. “Why do you have so many? You can only use one at a time! Why do you need to carry so much around with you anyway? Surely you must find it really annoying to re-pack all that stuff into another tote all the time? Do you really need another brown purse?” And so on, and so forth…
Sadly, I would have to say, speaking objectively, that he is right. Why do I have – and need – so many handbags? Why, when I have a rich variety of colors, sizes and styles, can I always think of at least ten reasons to buy yet another one? I think it’s an addiction, to be honest.
Yet, I do like every single one of my baggies; they each have their own personality! And I do find a use for each and every one of the bags that I have, though I should say that, frankly, the tiny fashion ones in pink and navy can go. Or maybe not.
The thing is, whichever size bag I choose, I find a way to fill it. Does the content of my purse grow with the size of my purse? Do I buy bigger bags because I need to carry around more, or do I carry around more because my purse can handle the volume?
I think perhaps the best way to tackle the last question is to analyze the content of my current – near A4-size – purse:
►  a wallet containing car papers, my driver’s license and my passport
►  a wallet containing money, passes and credit cards
►  my keys
►  my PDA
►  my cell phone

Those were the essentials. Now for the optional items:
►  my i-Pod Mini (the presence of 
which in my purse is non- 
negotiable)
►  my sunglasses (arguably not 
optional at all, as they might be 
necessary for driving)
►  handy-wipes (you never know what 
you’ll have to handle)
►  breath mints and Brush Aways (no 
elucidation necessary)
►  paracetamol (I get headaches)
►  Duratears (my eye-doctor claims I 
don’t blink enough)
►  Band-aid spray (I’m a klutz)
►  lipstick and chapstick (my lips dry 
easily and I might unexpectedly need to at least try to look presentable)
►  hand lotion (dry skin, what can I say)
►  a small purse containing a portable USB-stick, a pocket knife and a Mag-lite
►  2 magazines and a pocket book (I never know which I’ll feel like reading, and I might get held up somewhere – this way I’ll get though my back reading faster)
Well, looking at the second list, you can see why I would require a sizeable purse. Could I imagine leaving one or more of the items in my non-essentials list out?
Not really. At most, I think I would force myself to take only one of the three magazines/books with me instead of all three. And maybe the lipstick can go as well. But the chapstick, the handy-wipes, the hand lotion, the band-aid spray, the paracetamol, the Duratears, the breath mints, the sunglasses, the pocket knife, the Mag-lite, the USB-stick and the i-Pod are staying!
The main reason for my lugging all these things around with me wherever I go is that I have a firm belief that one day, they will all come in useful. For instance: I will be trapped in an elevator somewhere because of a small short in the panel with all the buttons, and my Mag-lite and pocket knife combo will save the day. Or I will unexpectedly have to perform some magnificently important function somewhere, and after quick-brushing my teeth, followed by taking a breath mint, and putting on some hand lotion, before sitting down and calmly and elegantly reading my magazine/book, I will successfully steal the show. Or something similar, you get the idea.
I should conclude, then, that my bag- fetish has more to do with my own neurosis of over-preparedness than with the desire to follow fashion whims. I suppose to a certain extent, that is a good thing. Yet I still feel inexplicably compelled to keep an eye out for more bags: more spacious, more elegant, and in lots of different colors too! Would this cease, I wonder, if I found a bag that had everything I required: the space to carry all my things with me without having to cram everything in or calculate down to the millimeter where to put my sunglasses in relation to my wallet? I think – though my husband would no doubt disagree with me – that it would, actually. Although I would then like said Wonderbag in all possible colors, and in the sizes small, medium, large and extra- large; and that would still mean that I would have to spend time and effort packing and re-packing bags a lot of the time.
Sadly, there is no such Wonderbag for me. And, since the Wonderbag will likely not be designed yet for the next hundred years or so, I could maybe try to occasionally convince myself that I don’t need everything I usually take with me all the time.
And so it’s back to the beginning, although at least now I can happily say that there is a good reason for my having so many different bags: different bags rise to different occasions (and, what’s more, to different moods!). Besides, aside from packing and repacking my different bags, I like the feeling of a new beginning that I get when I take out another purse for another day. In the end, then, I am afraid that I will have to tell my lovely – and very patient – husband that it is unlikely that I will ever stop shopping for purses. I will try, however, not to buy every one that I like.