Tuesday, March 22, 2022

What Jessica Strawser knows...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Corrie Schaffeld
Introduction by Melissa Amster

We're pleased to have Jessica Strawser back at CLC today. I have read and enjoyed her previous novels and am excited for her latest, The Next Thing You Know, which releases today. I was first introduced to an end-of-life doula in The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult, and I am interested to see how Jessica goes about portraying this career through her lead character, Nova. Jessica is here to tell us more about The Next Thing You Know and thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

Jessica Strawser is the editor-at-large at Writer’s Digest, where she served as editorial director for nearly a decade and became known for her in-depth cover interviews with such luminaries as David Sedaris and Alice Walker. She’s the author of the book club favorites Almost Missed You, a Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction pick; Not That I Could Tell, a Book of the Month bestseller; Forget You Know Me, awarded a starred review by Publishers Weekly, and A Million Reasons Why, called “a standout” in a starred Booklist review and named to Most Anticipated lists from Goodreads, SheReads, Frolic, E! News & others ahead of its March 2021 release. (All from St. Martin’s Press).

Honored as the 2019 Writer-in-Residence at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Strawser has written for The New York Times "Modern Love", Publishers Weekly and other fine venues, and lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two children. A contributing editor for Career Authors and an active Tall Poppy Writer, she keynotes frequently for writing conferences, book fairs and festivals, book clubs, libraries, and other events that are kind enough to invite her. 

Visit Jessica online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

As an end-of-life doula, Nova Huston’s job—her calling, her purpose, her life—is to help terminally ill people make peace with their impending death. Unlike her business partner, who swears by her system of checklists, free-spirited Nova doesn’t shy away from difficult clients: the ones who are heartbreakingly young, or prickly, or desperate for a caregiver or companion.

When Mason Shaylor shows up at her door, Nova doesn’t recognize him as the indie-favorite singer-songwriter who recently vanished from the public eye. She knows only what he’s told her: That life as he knows it is over. His deteriorating condition makes playing his guitar physically impossible—as far as Mason is concerned, he might as well be dead already.

Except he doesn’t know how to say goodbye.

Helping him is Nova’s biggest challenge yet. She knows she should keep clients at arm’s length. But she and Mason have more in common than anyone could guess… and meeting him might turn out to be the hardest, best thing that’s ever happened to them both.

Jessica Strawser's
The Next Thing You Know is an emotional, resonant story about the power of human connection, love when you least expect it, hope against the odds, and what it really takes to live life with no regrets. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Jessica Strawser does it again―first-rate storytelling, a fresh, unique premise, and a didn't-see-that-coming twist, resulting in a book that's unputdownable! Strawser spins a wise, thought-provoking story that crackles with tension and intrigue. Perfect for book clubs, The Next Thing You Know will have you pondering end-of-life issues, and guessing the final, shocking twist." 
―Lori Nelson Spielman, internationally bestselling author of The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

“A breathtaking, emotional, and compelling novel, The Next Thing You Know is a poignant look at love and hope, and the importance of living every moment with no regrets. Unflinching and unforgettable, this one will crack your heart open and slowly stitch it back together.” 
―Christina McDonald, bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing The Next Thing You Know?
Rewards: It was humbling to learn so much about what end-of-life doulas do. When I first became aware that they existed, I couldn’t stop thinking about what a special person it would take to do that job—which is what made me want to write about one. 

Challenges: The pandemic began when I was midway through my first draft, and it was heartbreaking to think about all the people who were sick and scared and couldn’t get access to doulas (or loved ones) from quarantine, when they needed them most.

Ultimately, even though the pandemic does not factor into the actual story at all, the challenges of timing made me appreciate the subject matter that much more. Especially since at its heart, this is a story about the power of human connection and getting out of your comfort zone to live life to its fullest.

How is Nova similar to or different from you?
Nova has had a series of unique life experiences—one in particular, with an intense ripple effect—that re-shaped her into an entirely different person than she was even five years ago. This makes her way of looking at the world very different from mine, and also from 99% of the people she encounters on a daily basis… but they don’t know it, because she’s intensely private about what she’s been through. 

In short, Nova is gutsy and up for anything and a lot of people think they have her pegged but are very wrong… all of which made her tons of fun to write. I’m much less interesting than she is, but if we have one thing in common, it’s probably her fiercely independent streak that makes her reluctant to open up when things get hard.

 If The Next Thing You Know were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
I love this question! Since Nova’s highest-profile client, Mason, is a musician struggling to say goodbye to his lifestyle on the road and on stage, I thought about music constantly when I was writing their story. 

There’s a Khalid song, “Outta My Head,” about the tension of realizing you’re secretly falling for a friend, you can’t get them out of your head—and near the end, John Mayer comes in with a killer guitar solo that screams of longing. That solo? That’s Mason.

Also, I’m totally going to blend genres here, but that’s Mason too. So: Marshmello & Jonas Brothers’ “Leave Before You Love Me.” Chris Stapleton’s “You Should Probably Leave.” John Craigie’s “Rough Johns.” Sturgill Simpson’s “Long White Line.” Ben Taylor’s “Nothing I Can Do.” Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.”

Which TV series are you currently binge-watching?
I just finished binging Ted Lasso from the beginning (very late to that party, but I’m a believer now!) and am counting down the days until the new season of Better Call Saul drops! I’m also savoring every last episode of This Is Us—I’m sad to see it end, but admire the show creators for sticking to their vision instead of stretching it out.

What is something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
That my kids would much rather learn from their amazing teachers than from me! And I’m on board with that.

What is your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day?
A bedtime story with my second-grader. I’ve always loved reading to my kids every night. Now, she’s onto chapter books, and she reads to me! It’s the best.

Thanks to Jessica for chatting with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Giveaway ends March 27th at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.


Padmini Rao said...

I feel a strong connection to nature.

traveler said...

I feel a strong connection to my wonderful dog.

Suburban prep said...

I feel a strong connection to my husband and also to a brother.

Grandma Cootie said...

My sister

diannekc said...

I have a strong connection to my Sister.

StoreyBookLover said...

I feel a strong connection with my husband <3

Mary C said...

My niece and nephew

Toni Laliberte said...

I feel a strong connection to my granddaughter

Mary Patricia Bird said...

I had a strong connection with my Dad, God rest his soul. I am such an introvert I don't really have close connections.

Mary Preston said...

I have a very strong connection to my daughter.

Nancy said...

I had a strong connection with my mother and father.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Kelly Rodriguez said...

I had a strong connection with my mother.

bn100 said...


Kelley said...

I had a very strong connection to my mother. Unfortunately she has passed. Ty

Anita Yancey said...

I have a strong connection with my husband, and my daughter.

Lelandlee said...

I have a strong connection with my wife

Xia Lee said...

I have a strong connection with my husband

Lindsey said...

I have a strong connection to my husband and my son.

Nancy P said...

I had an immediately strong connection with someone who has become almost my best friend now. Some people might think it's unusual because he's a 64 year-old Brit but we just click so well & share a lot of daily texts about really average stuff. It's nice to find a friend & it's a delight to find one where you never expected to find one.