So, I was asked to write a blog post recently for a site that chronicles the origins of books. To clarify: How authors conceive their ideas.
I found thinking about this weirdly rewarding. That's probably because it ended up being all about, well, me.
Here's what I wrote:
Live a Little, or rather, Raquel Rose, the book’s fortysomething, frustrated heroine, emerged out of my own experience as a harried mom of two. Sometime around the thousand-odd days of parenthood mark, I started to realize that not only is parenting not about your (the grown-up’s) fulfillment, it’s actually about the complete abnegation of self. Kid need a toy while you’re in the first shower you’ve had in six days? No problem; hygiene is overrated. Sleep deprivation got you feeling paranoid or perhaps even homicidal? Read an attachment parenting book; it’ll explain that you’re just being selfish.
One day, while was stuffing my writhing offspring into my raisin-littered sedan while yet another writing deadline came and went unmet, I thought: What would a terminally unappreciated mother do to feel good again? How far would she go?
That’s where Live a Little came from. Now, maybe I’m a cynic, but I tend to think most of us are liars in one way or another. Maybe we just string together small fibs, or perhaps we’re more inclined toward the occasional whopper or self-aggrandizing feint and dodge. I think it is very possible for an otherwise ethical, normal person to spin a web of lies she can’t extricate herself from easily. This precept was the baseline for Raquel’s misadventure, and I demanded a lot from it (and, probably, my readers). I wanted to see how far I could take this idea and still make Raquel relatable (according to Publisher’s Weekly, not as far as I thought, but, hey, what do they know about pathologically lying moms with spare tires and a weakness for surfers with crooked teeth?).
That said, at its core, Live a Little is a suburban satire. It pokes fun at the trials and tribulations of married life, parenting, keeping up with the Joneses and raising high-end(!) children. Although I wouldn’t align myself with Raquel as a character in any specific way, writing this book was a way to shine a light on my own pathologies as a wife and mother. It was an exercise in approaching the challenges of marriage and parenthood with more levity and less zealousness. And, on those terms, for me at least—and I hope some of my readers—it was a success.