I'm not sure I love anything more than a powerful, moving novel about the unbreakable bonds between women, so today I'm thrilled to be blogging about EVERYONE SHE LOVED by fellow Girlfriends Cyber Circuit author Sheila Curran.
The book has a great premise about a woman getting her husband and closest friends to sign a very unusual pact that will, ultimately, change their lives forever. To read more about it, click here.
Sheila was good enough to answer my interview questions, so here goes ...
How would you describe the genre of EVERYONE SHE LOVED, and what pulled you toward it?
I’d guess ‘women’s fiction’ but to me, genre is so hard to define, especially when one’s writing combines elements of many. For example, it’s a mystery, it’s a love story, it’s suspenseful, it’s a southern novel in the tradition of Steel Magnolias or Terms of Endearment. There are no spies, so I guess we can rule out espionage.
Please tell us about the genesis of the idea for this book.
For the full story, readers should go to my website and click on Backstory. But the short version is this: in some states, if a parent hasn’t named a guardian in an official will, their children can be taken into foster care if the parents die. I was talking to a friend about how difficult it is to make the choice of who, among my siblings and friends would be the best replacements for my husband and I. Suddenly, I said, “Oooh. You know what would be worse? What if I died and John fell in love with someone who was just awful?” I thought for a minute more and said, “I know. What if he couldn’t remarry unless my sisters and best friends approved?”
I knew, deep down, that whatever happened, as long as my friends and family approved of the new wife, then she’d be good for my kids. So I began to imagine a character like me, except she’s really rich, has had even more reasons in her life to become a bit of a control freak than have I and she is so charming in her ridiculous catastrophizing that her husband and friends finally say, “Enough, already! You’re not going anywhere, but if it makes you feel better, we’ll sign the damn thing.” So begins the premise for my novel, the plot of which is set into action by my character’s codicil. It’s about motherhood, wifehood, childhood, and most of all, the sisterhood of great friends who’ve come of age together.
If your protagonist could change one thing about herself, what would it be?
I think she’d wish she weren’t so attracted to her late best friend’s husband, I think she’d wish she knew more about helping his daughters recover from the loss of their mom, and I think she’d like to be more disciplined about what she eats.
What do you love most about EVERYONE SHE LOVED?
I love the way the ending pulls together so many of the loose ends that presented themselves to me and demanded to be put on the page, only to make me wrack my brain over what in the world they meant and how in the world I would solve the problems they created. I also love how these women band together, how much they want to protect their lost friend’s children and husbands, and how they make each other laugh.
Is there a story behind the title?
I had submitted it under the title of LUCY VARGAS IS COMING AROUND, thinking maybe it would sort of ‘brand’ me, since my first title was Diana Lively is Falling Down. My editor, the brilliant Emily Bestler, wanted something less coy, more poignant and serious. We must have gone back and forth with a million tries until she emailed one day and said, I’ve got it! EVERYONE SHE LOVED is perfect since the action in the novel is driven by Penelope’s love for her family, and her assurance that she could trust her friends to protect them if something were to happen to them.
Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?
You know, all I ever heard from other writers was how little power they’d gotten over their covers. Given that my editor has so many superstar clients (Jodi Picoult, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Jennifer Weiner) and that I was – well, the opposite of a superstar – I figured I would have to go with whatever image she and her team chose. They sent the cover, and it was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, it disturbed me in a way I couldn’t articulate. I almost said nothing, because I know these people are much smarter than I about book covers. Still, I couldn’t help but say it made me think something bad was going to happen. Not only did Emily listen to my commentary but by the time we chose the cover, they’d gone through several versions. I felt so honored, and I realized that Ms. Bestler is one of those powerful people who still treats people as she herself would wish to be treated. You can’t do a whole lot better than that, in my humble opinion.
What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
I’ve listed several of my quirks in the About the Author section of Diana Lively's website but I guess they’d be most surprised at the fact that when it all comes down to it, what matters most to me is my family, my friends and living a life that adds value to the world. In my case, I figure my novels can give people a few hours to escape and enjoy themselves, and in a world like ours, that’s a very helpful thing. When I got sick last January, I was able to experience first-hand how very true this was.
Can you share some particularly memorable fan mail you've received?
Every bit of fan mail is memorable. It makes my day to hear that I touched someone. I have heard from old ladies named Wilma and Bernice that I made them laugh, from strangers who begged me to hurry up and write another book, and from nationally-recognized professors who said my first novel about an academic husband who’s just the slightest bit egomaniacal, was ‘brilliant.’ Since I’m not an academic and have never thought of myself as smart, I was so pleased to hear they thought the book was clever, funny and innovative.
Do you pay attention to book reviews?
I do, but it’s really hard, as you know, with diminished review spaces in newspapers, to get a review.
Has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?
I got a ‘starred review” from BOOKLIST. (I’m still not sure exactly what it means, but everyone said it’s really good.) Here’s part of what the review wrote:
Rich with exceptional characterization …Curran's novel gently reminds readers that fantasy has a place in everyone's life, and dreams can come true. Uniquely uplifting and never didactic, this is a gem.
Thanks so much, Shelia!
EVERYONE SHE LOVED has just been released and is available at chain and independent bookstores everywhere. To buy online, visit amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com or any cyber retailer. For more information, visit Sheila's website at sheilacurran.com.