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Marianne Schnall—Helping Us Find Our Voices

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From a lifetime of interviewing diverse women, Marianne Schnall has chosen quotations that address big questions, then clustered them around turning points in life. Daring To Be Ourselves is a gift, a joy and a rescue. Gloria Steinem

Writer and interviewer, Marianne Schnall and Blue Mountain Arts Publishers have delivered an extraordinary collection of thoughts from some of today’s most influential women. Released this month, Daring to be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness, and Finding Your Own Voice includes inspiration from interviews Schnall conducted with Maya Angelou, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright, Jane Goodall, Melissa Etheridge, Cameron Diaz, and many others.

Schnall is also the founder and executive director of Feminist.com, a leading women’s website, and nonprofit organization. Woman Around Town’s MJ Hanley-Goff caught up with Schnall as she embarked on a book promotion schedule.

What was it like to discover that in all these great interviews in your files, you had quotes on similar topics, like “quieting the mind,” and “being true to yourself?”

In some ways, it was no surprise to find I had all those quotes on similiar topics – those were the questions that personally interested me, so I tend to take every opportunity I get to ask the women I speak those same questions. What was amazing in putting the book together was not only seeing the common elements and messages in everyone’s answers, but also the diversity of perspectives. I think different quotes may resonate with different people as they read the book, which I like.

In the introduction, you talk about being inspired by a quote from Cambodian activist and author Loung Ung, who told you, “Courage is when you dare to be yourself.” What have you “dared” to be in your life?

I have become much more “daring” as I get older – when I was younger I think I was more caught up with playing it safe, fitting in, doing what was expected of me. These days, I think I am “daring” myself to live my life authentically, challenging myself to keep learning and growing, and also working to help create positive change in the world. That is the heart and essence of the book.

I love the look and feel of this book. It’s like a keepsake, something to pass on to our daughters and granddaughters. How did you come to work with Blue Mountain Arts?

I got an email from Blue Mountain Arts asking to use a quote from my interview with Melissa Etheridge (which was posted online) for a compilation they were doing…When I was on the phone with them working out the logistics, I mentioned that there were little “jewel” quotes in so many of my interviews, and that evolved into a book deal. They have been wonderful to work with and I love how the book came out.

OK, which one is your favorite, that is if you can choose.

That is hard to answer because honestly I love all the women and all the quotes and certain quotes are meaningful or interesting to me for different reasons! But I did pull a few of my favorites for this excerpt that was just posted as a slide show at The Huffington Post. This from Maya Angelou:

We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeat so that we can know who we are. So that we can see, “Oh, that happened, and I rose. I did get knocked down flat in front of the whole world, and I rose. I didn’t run away; I rose right where I’d been knocked down.” That’s how you get to know yourself.

Tell me a little about the beginnings of Feminist.com.

The site is celebrating 15 years this year—we launched in 1995. Then, only 15% of internet users were women, and very few women’s organizations had an online presence (some of these organizations didn’t even have computers or access to the Internet back then!) so one of Feminist.com’s primary purposes was to provide the first online home for groups like the Ms. Foundation, Girls Inc., Equality Now, Black Women in Sisterhood for Action and V-Day to promote their work and campaigns.

All these years later, though most groups now have their own websites, we are still providing much the same function, serving as a hub to connect people with resources, information, important organizations and each other. We also offer organizations their own columns at Feminist.com to promote their work and campaigns.

It has been wonderful to see the Internet exploding with so many women’s voices and so many ways to network with each other and get the information we need to improve our lives and the lives of others and to become a global community. The next “wave” of feminism is certainly taking place online and its huge impact and potential is growing and evolving every day. I am excited to be a part of it!

Let’s get back to the book. How are you promoting it?

I will be doing some selective stops and am just starting to create my schedule now—so far I have a bunch of dates in NYC and upstate New York and will be planning others. I have two young daughters, so I will be doing some strategic engagements, but not so extensively that I can’t stay rooted at home for them. Like other working moms, I am trying to find that balance! People can find out about my appearances (or request an appearance) at my web site: www.marianneschnall.com or www.daringtobeourselves.com.

This is a book to get not only for ourselves, but as a gift to our daughters, our mothers, aunts and all the wonderful women in our lives.

To purchase the book on Amazon, click on the title: Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness, and Finding Your Own Voice

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