Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jenna McCarthy owns it...plus a book giveaway

We're so glad to have Jenna McCarthy back at CLC to feature her latest novel, Everything's Relative, in which three sisters with very different personalities have to rely on each other to earn the inheritance their mother left behind in her passing. Thanks to Berkley/NAL, we have THREE copies for some lucky US readers!

Before she became an author, Jenna McCarthy started writing fabulous articles and submitting them to all of the Fancy New York City Magazines (FNYCMs). While none were ever published, she was offered a job by one of the editors. She went from one magazine to the next writing articles in exchange for actual money. Then she moved to California, wrote a book, had some babies, and wrote several more books. In addition, she gave a TED talk, flipped a house on TV and learned how to play tennis. Currently, she is trying to give up processed food and teach herself how to write a screenplay. 

Jenna (modestly) considers herself the luckiest person she knows. She's married to her best friend, works in her pajamas, and has two beautiful, healthy, hilarious daughters. She likes cats, hats, sparkly things, and laughing until her sides hurt. You can find her at her website (from where this bio was adapted), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

For many, many years I wrote nonfiction exclusively. I’d tell tales about my husband and my kids and my life, and my friends and family were incredibly supportive. At least at first. Then one day I wrote a little piece about my memories of going to the beach as a child. I mused about spending unsupervised hours dodging riptides and eating junk food and procuring a nice, third-degree sunburn while my mom dozed in her lounge chair, a Kool dangling from her lips and a warm Tab in a Koozie by her side.

“I was a good mother!” she cried when it came out. Had I implied that she wasn’t? Or that the other mothers were diligently watching their children and feeding them organic grapes and spackling them with sunblock every hour? This was the 70s! That was the way it was back then. I knew that and she knew that. I hadn’t meant it as an attack; I was merely pointing out the difference a few decades—and heaps of scientific data—can make. But she was hurt, and it was my fault.

Then I wrote a first-person book about marriage, aptly (in my rarely humble opinion) titled If It Was Easy They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon. The subtitle was my favorite: “Living With and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-so-handy Man You Married.” I’d go great lengths to point out that it very clearly said “the man you married,” and then explain how my husband Joe was, in fact, extremely handy. (Ahem.) Because I was attempting to expose the raw and hilarious truths about the often unholy state of matrimony, I had included things like the way Joe routinely wakes me up using the famed boner-in-the-backside method and how we occasionally poop in front of each other. Despite these things—or maybe because of them—I was proud of that book. Joe, who read every draft, insisted that he was, too.

I was scheduled to appear on the Today Show on publication day. As I dressed for my segment, I got a text from my husband’s sister. “Break a leg!” I read aloud. “We’re having a viewing party. Dad’s coming, too!”

“Oh my God, my dad is going to read this book,” Joe said, slumping into a chair. He looked horrified. And again, it was my fault.

I have a quote by the brilliant Anne Lamott framed on my office wall: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I passionately agree with every word of this. But the thing is, I was writing warmly about these people and I was still hurting them.

I decided maybe I’d give fiction a try.
When I came up with the kernel of the idea for my first novel, I couldn’t wait to tell Joe.
"I have my novel idea!” I squealed.
“That’s great honey,” he said.
An eternity passed.
“Don’t you want to know what it is?”
“Honestly? I don’t really care,” he said. “As long as it’s not about me.”

And there it was. The working title for that book was actually It’s Not about You, although ultimately I changed it to Pretty Much Screwed because it fit the story better. And the thing is, every character in that book—and every word of fiction I’ve written since—is at least loosely based on someone I know. A lot of times they’re me. But the names are always changed so everyone feels protected and safe. Even me.

Until my latest, Everything’s Relative. I’m fascinated by family dynamics and I came up with this story about three grown siblings who lose their mom very suddenly; their dad had died long ago. The book was in its final edit phase when my two grown siblings and I—for a total of three—lost our mom (wait for it) very suddenly; our dad had died long ago. The siblings in Everything’s Relative resemble my own in some ways. The mom, at times, looks a bit like ours did. The differences between my actual life and those of my characters far outweigh any similarities (most notably, the fictitious siblings are estranged while my close relationship with my own siblings might border on pathological to some), and the book was written a year before she passed, but most people don’t know how long publishing takes. I worry they’ll think it’s thinly, poorly veiled nonfiction, which it isn’t. It’s just a story I am telling that, like any story I ever tell, might have a bit of art-imitating-life (and vice versa). I hope people love it. Don’t tell any of my other books this, but it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written.

Thanks to Jenna for sharing her thoughts with us and to Berkley/NAL for sharing her book with our readers. Confessions of a Bookaholic also has a chance for you to win. (Worldwide. Ends 2/4.)

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US only. Giveaway ends February 7th at midnight EST.


Janine said...

Me and my siblings are different like night and day. Sometimes I wonder if my mother wasn't given the wrong baby when she left the hospital. I love the cover of this book. Just looking at it makes me happy.

Unknown said...

My siblings and I are not the same at all. I don't know if it's genetic or if it's environmental, but it's there for sure.

Rita Wray said...

My siblings are more party animals. I'm a homebody.

Letty Blanchard said...

I have one brother and we are so different. I think he's adopted!! HaHa! Just kidding!! :-)

Hailsbells said...

I'm the youngest of four: two brothers and one sister. We're all complete opposites. I'm a bookworm through and through, would rather stay in with my books, a cup of tea and my pup. My older brothers are always out and about and my sister has lived in Australia since 2009 and she is the most independent, brave, beautiful, woman I know! I love the cover and am so excited for Jenna's new book! :)

Unknown said...

I'm the baby, 2 older sisters and 2 older brothers. My sisters are both very religious, I'm not. They are both wicked organized. I'm not. They both have their s^#t together, mine is hopelessly messy! But I love them and they love me.

Grandma Cootie said...

I am the only one that got the obsessive reader gene.

traveler said...

I am completely different from my brother and sister. I read a great deal and so does my brother but that is all that we have in common. The two of them are close and don't communicate with me much.

rhonda said...

My brother &I are obsessive readers call ourselves a book team .wevalso have the same sense of humor.our sister is quieter,

susieqlaw said...

I am the most free-spirited out of my siblings.

Susan Roberts said...

I have two brothers and two sisters and we are all in our 50s and 60s now and live in different parts of the country. My sisters and I are still very close - my brothers not so much. Its funny but when we do get together, we immediately fall back into our childhood roles and it sometimes drives me crazy!

Estrella said...

I hate it when my siblings hit me for no reason.

Estrella said...

I hate it when my siblings hit me for no reason.

rubynreba said...

Everything I tell my daughter she answers with "I know!"

Jessica said...

Sometimes I get really annoyed listening to my mom chew. I don't know why but it bugs me.

Unknown said...

My sister (who has no children) tries to tell me how to parent my children. You can only imagine that doesn't go over at all!

Kimberly V said...

I am the complete opposite of my sister in every possible way.

Jennifer said...

I just wish everyone in my family was more patient and forgiving with everyone else. There are rifts in my family where we all suffer the consequences, and it makes me sad.

bn100 said...

complete opposite