I am SO excited about getting to be a part of the Taylor Jenkins Reid blog tour for her new book After I Do. I’m a big fan of Taylor’s work, (check out my review for her last book Forever Interrupted here), so I jumped at the chance to ask her some questions about her latest novel.
1. Can you please describe After I Do in one sentence?
After I Do is the story of a couple that has been unhappily married for some time and decides to take a year apart to assess their marriage.
2. What inspired you to write After I Do?
I’m very interested in the day-to-day life of two people sharing a life together. I don’t believe that monogamy is as natural as our culture makes it out to be. I wanted to explore what happens when a couple approaches the problem of falling out of love in an unconventional way.
3. In the first sixty pages of the book, the reader is introduced to Lauren and Ryan, discovering how they fall in love and then watch their marriage fall apart. After those pages, their plan goes into place and we’re thrown into an unconventional love story. Did you choose to take your time writing these pages so the reader was better able to identify with their dilemma and decision to take a year long break from their marriage?
I knew that in order for the reader to understand just how bad things had gotten between Lauren and Ryan, they had to understand how good it once was. Also, I wanted to make sure the reader knew that things soured slowly, as if they were unintentionally falling out of love brick by brick.
4. Every situation is different and every couple is different, but would you suggest their plan to other couples struggling in their marriage?
Let me put it this way: If I got to where Lauren and Ryan are, I hope I’d try this before giving up.
5. Why did you include the definition of ‘flagrant’ at the beginning of the novel?
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan is a heartbreaking and brilliant book. Some of his definitions perfectly capture the way two people can enrage each other with the smallest of gestures. Every person in a marriage can relate to that one thing his or her spouse does that feels like a wild disregard for everything they hold dear and true, even if it’s as simple as not putting the cap back on the toothpaste — as The Lover’s Dictionary defines it. I wanted to put that into the reader’s mind from the start.
6. When you originally came up with the premise of After I Do, did you know that the narration would only be told from the point of Lauren?
It took me a long time to figure out how to make this a book about both Ryan and Lauren without using two narrators. I wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea of two narrators but I just felt that two narrators would turn this into too much of a He Said/She Said — a dynamic I’m actually quite fond of but one that I didn’t think worked for this. So I settled on seeing the world through one of their eyes, and Lauren seemed the most natural fit. Luckily, I found a way for Ryan to speak up throughout the book.
7. The reader gets to know Lauren’s family and friends really well in the book. If you were to write a novel based on any of her family members or friends, who would it be and why? Rachel? Charlie and Natalie? Mila and Christina?
Oh, I’d write full books about any of them, honestly. But Charlie and Natalie seem the most obvious choice. They leave a lot to discuss and explore! And I’ve found that readers, so far, have been divided on what they believe Charlie and Natalie’s future holds in store.
8. Unsent emails become a third character in this book, have you ever written someone an email and chose not to hit send?
Oh, of course! Although, I normally delete them. Mostly because I’m a person that says what’s on my mind or if I’m not willing to say it, I work on letting it go. The unsent emails for Lauren and Ryan are, if anything, emblematic of the fact that both of them are holding so much in. They are both thinking things, assuming the other one knows it, and yet, they won’t just…hit send.
9. What are your thoughts on the following quote,
“If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, its yours forever. If it doesn’t then it was never meant to be.” ~Unknown
You know, I both believe this wholeheartedly and strongly disagree with it. Which is to say that I think if you have to let something go, and you find your way back to it, it’s a great sign that you’re on the right track. On the other hand, I think we too often put things in the hands of fate, we assume that things will work out if they are meant to be, and we allow ourselves not to fight for what we want. If Lauren and Ryan had been active about keeping their marriage alive and happy, if they hadn’t been so laissez faire, maybe they wouldn’t have been in the state they are in when the book starts. So I think the saying has profound truth but I think living by it encourages complacence.
*My thanks to Taylor Jenkins Reid and SparkPoint Studio for arranging for me to be a part of the After I Do blog tour.