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