Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Interview with Aidan Donnelley Rowley and book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Aidan Donnelley Rowley is the mother of two girls and a previous lawyer who was born, raised and still lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She has a blog called Ivy League Insecurities, in which she talks about herself and the writing process, amongst other things. Her debut novel, "Life After Yes", was written about the after effects of 9/11 and how it affects the course of one woman's life. It can be purchased here. However, along with a very interesting and informative interview, Aidan gave me three copies to give away to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.
1. What was the inspiration behind "Life After Yes?"
"Life After Yes" was inspired by my admittedly short stint as a litigation associate at a big Manhattan law firm and by my experience as a young New Yorker in the aftermath of 9/11. Contrary to conventional wisdom, life as a BigLaw attorney was (for me) not miserable. But it wasn’t happy either. I realized, and quickly, that I was far more interested in the life around me, the stories of colleagues and clients, than I was in the formal practice of law at a corporate firm. I would steal moments here and there and scribble essays. I would spend long stretches of time at my desk staring out the skyscraper window at the stunning views of the city in which I was born and raised. The Friday afternoon after returning from my honeymoon, I looked out that window and decided to jump. To take my very first risk. In that moment, I chose life over law.
2. How did you get your start with writing?
I have always loved writing. Per my little sister (I do not remember this!), I used to write short stories in the backseat of our family station wagon. In high school, I loved my writing assignments. In college, I studied philosophy and wrote countless papers on metaphysics and ethics. It wasn’t until I was immersed in the practice of law though, a life that I found to be decidedly uncreative, that I got the hankering to write fiction.
3. What has been your biggest challenge in working on "Life After Yes?" Biggest reward?
Truth be told, there have been so many challenges and rewards. I would say the most monumental challenge has been bringing the book to life while raising two young daughters. On the one hand, I felt a profound surge of creativity and ambition once I became a mother. On the other hand, I surrendered so much of my free time once I had my girls. Balancing my life as mother and as writer continues to be a daily struggle for me. The biggest reward in publishing Life After Yes has been hearing from so many readers who have picked up my book, read Quinn’s story, and loved it. That I have struck something in people, that I have made them think about their lives and their choices, has meant the world to me.
4. Do you have any novels planned for the future?
Yes! I have several story ideas simmering now, but I am currently at work on one novel about which I am very excited. While I have no doubt this novel will appeal to fans of "Life After Yes," it is also a very different kind of story, one that explores markedly different themes and existential terrain. It’s my sincere hope that you and others will be able to read my sophomore effort in the not-too-distant future!
5. If "Life After Yes," were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead roles?
I was blindsided with this question at my Borders reading here in Manhattan back in May and I still have not come up with an answer! Truth be told, though I think Life After Yes would make for a compelling movie, I wrote this book as a book, and really never got as far as daydreaming about its cinematic adaptation. I think Quinn would best be played by an actress who is very likeable, but also not perfect and perky. Someone with layers, a personality, some edge. We would need some handsome creatures to play both Sage and Phelps, someone a bit more rebellious and dark for the latter. Ideas? Let me know in the comment box!
6. Since you based your book around 9/11, what were you doing when you heard the news that morning?
I had breakfast with my mother on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was a second year law student at Columbia at the time and after breakfast, I was running late for class, so I hopped in a taxi to make it to school on time. In the taxi, I heard about the attacks on the cabdriver’s radio. Honestly, it was very surreal and I was quite confused. I arrived at school and no one had heard anything yet. I told a few people that I heard something about the towers being attacked and they thought I was crazy. Needless to say, I did not attend class that day.
7. I read on your blog that, just like you, your daughters have boy names. Have there ever been instances where people confused either them or yourself for boys when they didn't meet you in person first?
Ah, yes. In law school, particularly at the beginning of the semester when the professors were not yet familiar with their students, I would often be called on as “Mr. Donnelley.” When I raised my hand, and explained that I was in fact Ms. Donnelley, there would inevitably be a chorus of chuckles. When my husband and I sold our home recently, the buyers were convinced that we were a gay couple because of my name! And when I was applying my eldest daughter to preschool, one school called and apologized profusely because there were no more spots open for boys in the upcoming class. “That’s okay,” I said, “because she’s a girl!”
8. What are you looking forward to most about autumn?
Fall is my very favorite season. I love the crispness, the hints of chill. I love that I can wear a sweater, but don’t have to bundle up. I love the colorful leaves and the pumpkins in windows. I love the resumed busyness of people; the kids shuttling between school, the reinvigoration of this city that is often abandoned during summer. My birthday is in October too, so maybe that’s why I’m such a fan.
9. I also read that you like Starbucks a lot. What do you usually order there?
I do love Starbucks...as much for the atmosphere, the patchwork of people, the snapshot of humanity, as for the endless coffee and food options. I am not very exotic in my ordering. I usually stick to Pike Place Roast (with skim and Splenda) or if I am indulging, a skim latte. Caffeine is a critical component of my busy days!
10. What is one thing about you that most people would find surprising?
That’s a tough question. Historically, people have been surprised to learn that I was such a tomboy growing up. These days, I am far from high maintenance and leagues from being a girly-girl, but I do have an appreciation for clothes and shoes and other aesthetic pleasures. Guess this doesn’t jibe very well with images of me in a Larry Bird jersey! Also, people tend to assume that I am a city creature through and through and are often thrown off to learn that I though I was born and raised in the big city, I also grew up spending a lot of time in nature, away from it all.
Special thanks to Aidan for answering my questions and allowing us all to learn more about her. I also want to thank her for the contribution of books for the giveaway.
How to win "Life After Yes":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted.)
For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Please tell us: What national or worldwide event of the last ten years has had the most impact the way you view life?
2. Please tell us: What is your favorite thing to order at Starbucks (or any other beverage café chain)?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Monday, September 20th at 6 pm EST.