My five favorite things about my book

I love how all the other Debs decided to write about their five favorite things in The Moment of Everything this week. It’s been fun to see who liked what the best in the book. I haven’t known the other Debs for long, but already I feel so close to them. I could read each of their posts anonymously and tell you who had written each one!

And now it’s my turn. I have the option of writing anything I want about The Moment of Everything but I decided to follow the other Debs and write about my five favorite things about my own book.

As with most relationships, my relationship with my book has had its ups and downs. Even less than a year ago, when I was reviewing copyedits, I called my agent in a panic because I hated my book. She told me then that it would pass, that I was in a phase when I was looking for things not to like, like looking at your skin closely in the mirror. But when I took a step back, I’d love it again. She was right.

Now I can see all the things I love about my novel. Here are few of my favorites.

5. Maggie’s mother. Writing Georgine was a joy. There’s something about writing difficult characters that’s always thrilling for me. The things she says and does are so out of character for me, and especially my own mother, that to write her felt like running away to join the circus. So many times in life and fiction, women are there to care for others. Georgine is not that kind of woman. I felt like I was getting away with something when I wrote Georgine. She was a constant surprise to me, like her response when Jason tells her about being mistreated by someone in his life.

“Baby, don’t you fret,” she said. “They always treat you worse when they feel guilty.”

I have no idea where that came from. Georgine just has a mind of her own.

4. That cover! My publisher (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette) gave The Moment of Everything the perfect cover. So many readers have told me that they bought the book because of the cover, which is music to my ears. We worried a bit because the cat doesn’t look like Grendel, the bookstore cat in the novel, but we decided it was just fine the way it is. This was photo taken by a photographer in Texas (Stacy Anderson or Texasgurl on Flickr) who happened to be passing a bookstore at night and noticed the cat. It was a happy coincidence for all of us. Here’s the original photo:

3. The audiobook version. I’m a huge audiobook fan. I listen to books while I do housework, cook, garden, drive. I’ve been listening to audiobooks since back in the cassette tape days. This summer, I was listening to Emma Straub’s The Vacationeers (which I loved!), and I fell in love with the narrator, an actress named Kristen Seigh. She did snarky voice so well! I’d only listened to a couple of chapters when I emailed my wonderful editor, Emily Griffin at Grand Central Publishing, and asked her if there was any way to get Kristen to do the narration for my book. A couple of days later, she emailed back and said they’d booked Kirsten for The Moment of Everything. I was beyond thrilled when I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it. My novel has lived in my head for so long with my voices and the way I’d say things. It was amazing to me to hear someone else read it. For the first time, I was experiencing my book as a reader would. And Kristen was just as wonderful as I thought she’d be.

2. The title. I can take no credit for the title at all. I’m hopeless when it comes to titles. No seriously, I’m terrible! My editor was determined to use some part of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (which plays a key part in the novel) in the title. I was dubious at first, but she was so right. After a lot of back and forth, she extracted the lovely title from this quote in Lady Chatterley’s Lover:

For Connie had adopted the standard of the young: what there was in the moment was everything. And moments followed one another without necessarily belonging to one another.

I fell in love instantly.

1. Maggie. When I started The Moment of Everything, I wanted to write a book in the voice of a young, single woman who was funny because she was smart. I like to think that Maggie is a smarter, funnier, braver version of myself. That old adage of “Write what you know” has always bothered me, but in this case I did do that. I lived and worked in Silicon Valley for 20 years. So what I know is a lot of smart, funny, talented women who are often frustrated by their options. I know what it’s like to put your heart and soul into a start-up only to see it fail anyway. I know the only thing worse than interviewing in Silicon Valley is dating there. And I know that bookstores are magical places to visit and back-breaking businesses to run. I poured all of that into Maggie. I started writing Maggie at a time when I’d experienced a lot of disappointments. The two of us went through a lot together, and we both came out the other side in much better and happier places. She was a fun, frustrating, and fascinating character. I hope to write a lot more books in my career, but The Moment of Everything will always have a special place in my heart because of Maggie.

 

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Shelly is the author of THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING, story of love and books in Silicon Valley. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.

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  1. So fun to hear what you love best about your book, Shelly! I agree w/you on all counts — especially about Georgine, who was one of my fave characters in your story. So many of her interactions with Maggie have stuck with me. And how cool to hear the story behind the cat on the cover?

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