Whose A$$ is That? Marylu Zuk explains…

If I were a man would I still obsess, ’bout the size of my can every time I undressed? – from Whose ASS Is That?

I reviewed Marylu Zuk’s book Whose ASS Is That? over on Ugly Reviews and it fetched a 4/5 star-review. It’s a book that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. I put a few questions to Ms Zuk, feel free to ask your own in the comment section below.

Barnes and Noble

Is Whose ASS Is That? your first published book?
Yes! I have a mental dartboard with a variety of topics I’m narrowing for my next book.

Will your next book be in the same vein as the first? 
Yes. My plan is to do a series of life’s moments from a humorous perspective. Successful comedians (I’m not one) have found that people laugh at real life scenarios because they can identify with them. I believe I communicate things best using lyrical type poetry and humor. I’ve had more than one male suggest I do the same topic from a man’s perspective. Others have suggested they would love a book on menopause or empty-nesters to give as gifts.

How did you find your publisher?
Finding a publisher posed a bit of a challenge as my book didn’t cleanly align with standard genres. Researching publishers I often found ‘no poetry’ noted at the very end of submission guidelines. My book rhymes, but I don’t consider it poetry per se. It is an illustrated storybook for grown-ups. How many of those are there? Go The F#*k to Sleep was gaining popularity at the same time I was starting to query so I had a lone, slightly similar in genre, compadre for purposes of comparison.

Ultimately, I found my publisher through a casual introduction by a mutual friend. I had previously heard of her company, but threw up my own roadblock by thinking she only published children’s and middle-grade books. I did further research, saw that she had recently published an adult novel, made a mental note that she was open-minded and queried. To my good fortune, my book made her laugh and she believed we had a winner.

Sherry Kaier, (my publisher) of The Artists’ Orchard, and I have had a wonderful working relationship. She listens to grasp my vision, then injects her expertise to either affirm my direction or explain why it would be better to do something differently. I would most definitely recommend her as I found that our styles complemented one another.

When I complete my next book, I hope she’ll be willing to continue our working relationship!

How do your juggle a writing schedule? 
I wait until everyone’s bellies are full and they are otherwise occupied, and I begin.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer? For me, the best part of writing is that it’s therapeutic. I can write about things I wouldn’t typically discuss or make public. The worst part? I have not answer for that one. I’m a natural Pollyanna. I find a silver lining in anything.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
My works starts with pen and paper. And post-its. And more paper. Because I write in rhyming verse, I’m constantly rearranging the order of things and creating long lists of potential rhymes.

Do you have a critique/editing partner? 
Partners, plural. Once I broke the silence and shared with others that I’d written the book, I sought experienced writers and editors for feedback. When certain feedback became consistent, I began a working relationship with a developmental editor that I would, without a doubt, collaborate with on future projects.

Was there anything you struggled with during writing Whose ASS Is That? 
Early on, I feared the possibility that readers/reviewers might overlook my fundamental message: the importance of appreciating and embracing one’s individuality.

It’s quite expensive for a short book. How is that value for money?
The book is written storybook-style, with short rhyming verses that resonate with women. I have repeatedly had readers tell me they keep it on their end table or by their bedside and read it again as a pick-me-up when they might be feeling blue. As a gift that will bring a smile to a friend, for under $20 (paper) or under $30 (hardcover) – I think it’s priced appropriately.

What was that spark (defining moment) that made you put pen to paper?
Aha, this I remember vividly. I was getting dressed for a promotional event that would be held at an outdoor concert venue. We were asked to wear jeans and a t-shirt promoting our new logo. In my day-to-day work life, I typically wore a conservative suit – then rushed home and jumped into my pj’s. Before I ran out the door, I grabbed a hand mirror and stood with my back to the full length mirror to catch a glimpse of how I looked in my outfit and I literally said out loud, ‘Oh my God! Whose ass is that?’.

For years, the phrase spun in my head until I started to add to it, and it eventually became the illustrated storybook length version published by The Artists’ Orchard.

How did you find your illustrator? 
I started by looking through hundreds of online portfolios, and approaching creative acquaintances. Some backed off immediately based stylistic or media differences. Others provided samples for review, but I ultimately found my illustrator through word of mouth. The more I spoke about my vision for the book, the more people stepped in with suggestions and referrals. Once I saw Traycee’s initial sample, I knew we were on the same page. I provided her with my vision for most of the verses, we brainstormed together on others, and she hid herself away and waited for the words to speak to her on a few that stumped us both.

How long did it take you to write Whose ASS Is That? 
This is difficult to answer. From my initial idea to published book, we’re talking 11 years. But, from the time I seriously sat down and decided to write the book… it took two years to bring it to life.

So, it your bum really big?
Big is a relative term. I’d describe it instead as wide, and square, and fat, and flat!

Whose Ass Is That?

Every woman or so I’m told, whether in her twenties or many years old, has a love-hate relationship with her hiney, be it extra-venti or teeny-tiny.
Filled with whimsical illustrations and witty rhyme, ‘Whose ASS Is That?’ encourages women to laugh at our collective selves. 

Author Marylu Zuk reassures us that we are indeed perfect regardless of the size or shape of our buns. ‘Whose ASS Is That?’ permits every woman to relax her abs, exhale and laugh at what we rarely see – our own backsides!

Marylu Zuk 
Having spent the early part of her career in the sometimes-friendly skies, author Marylu Zuk perfected the art of smiling through anything – at least until she was out of the passengers’ sight. (Really sir?  You actually need me to buckle your seat belt for you?)  Her career path has taken her from babysitter, to playground supervisor, flight attendant, road warrior, workshop presenter, sales manager and enrollment VP. The titles have changed, but the job responsibilities did not – maintain order and keep people happy. 

An avid people watcher and eternal optimist, Marylu always finds the silver lining.  While getting ready for a promotions event a few years ago, Marylu used the two-mirror trick to see how she looked in her jeans.  ‘Oh my God! Whose ass is that?!’ she exclaimed… and the idea for her first book was born. A storybook for women with illustrations by Traycee Bosle, Whose ASS is That? –  invites every woman to relax her abs, exhale, and laugh at what we rarely see – our own backsides!

New Author Richard Sutherland

Richard Sutherland
Brace yourself for a hackneyed opening line. Here goes: “I always wanted to be an author”.
Apologies for that. Now let me make it up to you by adding: “But the fact that I did very little writing and was too shy to tell anyone about it hindered this ambition.”
There we go, that’s spiced it up a bit and given me something to focus on instead of just rambling for a few paragraphs. So now I’ll elaborate on how someone who didn’t really write anything ended up being an author. Or I’ll give it a go, at least.
Whilst at college and university, I wrote a few short stories and a single poem (the latter being something which, at the time, I thought was a one-off), but I didn’t consider myself a writer until July 2008, when suddenly everything changed. Waterstone’s (my employer from 2002-09) were running a competition called ‘What’s Your Story?”, which invited the public to create a tale that could fit onto a single-sided postcard. The winners would then be published in a postcard book alongside famous authors the likes of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling and many others. I’d never taken part in a writing competition before but this really took my fancy, and the fact that I worked at Waterstone’s gave me that much needed thrust to actually take part.
Sitting at my computer, I felt dismay at the realisation that I had no idea what to write about. My eyes flitted back and forth around the room, finally landing upon the spine of Aesop’s Fables, this particular edition being illustrated by the wonderfully fantastical artist Arthur Rackham. On the cover, Rackham had beautifully captured an array of characters from the book, one of them being an anthropomorphised stork. This swiftly resulted in me writing a story based not around the fairy tale creature per se, but around a perfect couple who can obtain anything they desire, except for a child. This short story is called ‘Special Delivery’ and it’s the first in my book because I still hold it dear; but the version that I wrote in July 2008 went through many changes before it was published in December 2009, most notably the ending… and the beginning… and pretty much all of the stuff in-between. (One piece of advice I can give: even when you think a piece is finished, chances are it isn’t. There’s often a sentence or even just a single word that might need changing. Take a break, then look at it with fresh eyes. This can pay dividends.)
Having written a full story, I became insatiable! I wrote another called ‘Savage Competition’, which charts the barbaric feud between Polar Bear and Walrus, followed by many others of various styles. One of my favourites, and by far the simplest of them all, is ‘The Life in a Year of the Traffic Lights’, which I wrote at about 3am because I simply couldn’t get to sleep without composing a tale about sentient traffic lights. I’m an odd man.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I wrote the contents (obviously), designed the cover and overall layout (those pesky margins, page numbers, copyright page and so on), registered with Nielsen Bookdata in order to buy the block of ISBNs and list the book on their database, paid a printer to put ink onto paper, created an account with Gardners Books so that it could be sold to shops, which in turn I then had to contact one by one because I’m my own marketing and press departments, and generally spread the word like crazy! As much as I’d love to say “that’s that”, the process continues until every single copy has sold (I broke even a few months ago, so trickles of profit make their way to me now and then, which is a pleasant surprise).
Self-publishing can be a long and hazardous road (not to mention lined with expensive tolls), but by God, there can be a lot of interesting incidents on the way. And providing you reach your destination, the hard slog makes it all the more satisfying. So I would recommend self-publishing as a route toward getting your words in the public’s view as it’s worked out great for me, but do some research first to make sure that it suits your needs. There are websites such as Lulu.com that publish any book, NightPublishing.com that publish many books, and then there’s the DIY route that I took (I used the printer Think-Ink.co.uk, based in Ipswich). Again, take your time and find the method that’s best for you.
Oh, and that postcard competition – I didn’t win. In fact, I didn’t even enter it! Why? Well, because I decided that my story deserved to be longer than a single-sided postcard, simple as that. And who needs to be published
alongside J.K. Rowling? I’m pretty close to her in the alphabet anyway.


Take a collection of short stories that range from the sombre to the slapstick, with characters from the psychopathic to the fairy tale. Add to the mix a bunch of humorous poems, a ‘monologue for two’, a story written entirely in text speak and even one that includes a bit or Morse Code, and you have yourself ‘The Unitary Authority of Ersatz’.
The Unitary Authority of ErsatzDespite the contents incorporating very different genres, styles and rhythms, they all take place within the eponymous city (Ersatz itself), a place where flights of fancy come to land.

The book is now in over 100 bookshops across the UK, stocked by Amazon and Play.com, and available worldwide from the author’s website: http://www.ersatzscribblings.com/

About the Author

Richard Sutherland is the author of ‘The Unitary Authority of Ersatz’, a collection of eclectic fiction and humorous poetry.

He studied History and Art History at Hull University and has worked as a Frozen Food Assistant, a Market Researcher, an Electricity Salesman, a Waterstone’s Bookseller and is now in the Marketing Department at Hull Truck Theatre (so he’s accustomed to people dressed as anything from cheeseburgers to penguins walking through the office on a normal day).

His life revolves around a loving girlfriend and two insane cats. His favourite colour hasn’t yet been discovered by scientists and he has a worrying obsession with traffic lights.

To get a glimpse into his bewildering imagination, take a gander at http://www.ersatzscribblings.com/