In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing
victim author and they choose their own interview by choosing which questions, and how many questions, they want to answer! I read Laura Dave last year for the first time when I picked up The First Husband, and not only did I really enjoy the novel, I enjoyed the food included in it as well. Here is what Laura had to say about reading, writing, and using cooking to unwind.
Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved reading and writing. By the time I was in elementary school, I’d written my first “novel.” I would describe my novels (the ones I’ve written as a grown-up: my most recent are The First Husband and The Divorce Party) as stories about families, marriage, infidelity, and friendship. Ultimately, they all aim to ask a question about what we are willing to risk for the people we love.
I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you thorough the writing process?
There are two big rituals important to how I write: listening to music (while I’m writing) and cooking (after I’m done working for the day). I often sit in the same coffee shop to write — but, wherever I write, I listen to music, usually the same couple of songs on repeat. It creates a meditative state for me while I work. And, since writing is such a solitary affair, I love to cook with my husband at the end of the day. It’s a way to leave my writing behind and focus on the rest of my life. Since we moved to Santa Monica, we’re in walking distance of an amazing farmers market. I’ll go there on the weekend and let what I find dictates how and what we cook. I’m not the world’s best cook, but I’m very enthusiastic! And cooking brings a lot of joy to my life.
Did you know what you wanted the title of the book to be? How involved were in choosing the name of the book?
I think I came up with the title The First Husband almost before I started writing. I imagined a conversation between two women—very much like the characters of Annie and Jordan—who were discussing how one of them married quickly after a traumatic breakup. As I was contemplating this conversation, I imagined Jordan trying to convince Annie to leave her quickie and reactive union by arguing the point: “He’s just your first husband.”
I wanted to take a look at the irony of that ideology and, in the process, have an opportunity to discuss how we become proactive in our own happiness. (And our own marriages.) I spoke to many marriage experts while I was working on the book — about how to make a marriage successful and thriving. The First Husband title is also a bit of a wink to the idea that relationships are disposable when I believe so much of our happiness comes from committing to the opposite.
Did you have to do much research when working on your books, and do you tend to write first or research first?
Oh, I love doing research! With all my books, especially The First Husband, I’ve done background work on the people and places I’m writing about. I tend to do a lot of my research at the beginning of my work on a novel. And I often revisit researching as I move deeper into the book.
Where do you most love to write? Are there places where it comes to you easier than others?
I write at the same place every morning. It is a local coffee shop/larder. I like to sit in the same table toward the back, drink my coffee and dive in for several hours. I get my best work done there.
I’m working on a new novel that is set against the backdrop of northern California and Austin Texas. It keeps surprising me, which I’m really enjoying.
Giveaway: One reader with a US or Canadian mailing address (no PO boxes, please), has the opportunity to win a copy of Laura Dave’s The First Husband. For entry, fill out this form by end of day, 11:59 p.m, April 30th, and you’ll be entered for your chance to win.
About: Laura Dave was born in New York City in 1977 and grew up in Westchester County. She attended The University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with a BA in English, and The University of Virginia, where she earned her MFA. . Laura is the author of the acclaimed novels “The Divorce Party” and “London is the Best City in America.” In addition to writing books, Laura has also worked steadily as a journalist. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, Self, Modern Bride, Redbook, ESPN the Magazine, and The New York Observer, as well as on NPR’s All Things Considered. Laura lives in southern California, where she is at work on a new novel.