Thursday, June 13, 2024

Elyssa Friedland hits the jackpot!

Credit: Lucia Engstrom
Introduction by Melissa Amster

I have read all of Elyssa Friedland's novels and have enjoyed each one. The family sagas are especially interesting, and I hope she'll eventually do one about a wedding because there's always so much going on. Her latest family saga, Jackpot Summer, is her best one yet! I had such a fun time getting to know the "Jackpot Jacobsons" and joining them on their lottery journey. I will be reviewing this novel as soon as I can, but you can check out my Bookstagram post in the meantime. (I had fun with a Monopoly set.) Jackpot Summer is newly released this week and I enjoyed asking Elyssa some questions about it, as well as seeing her answers.

Elyssa Friedland is the author of five novels and a forthcoming picture book. She attended Yale University, where she served as managing editor of the Yale Daily News, and is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She worked as an associate at a major firm before turning to writing full-time. She teaches an undergraduate course at Yale called Contemporary Novel Writing. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, LitHub, POPSUGAR,, Bustle, Modern Bride, New York magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, CBS, Yale Alumni Magazine, and more. Elyssa resides in New York City with her husband, three children and puppy.

LAST SUMMER AT THE GOLDEN HOTEL was a Good Morning America Buzz Pick and a Book of the Month selection. It was the OneBook, One Hadassah selection for August 2022 and is currently in its 5th printing. THE FLOATING FELDMANS was a People Magazine “People Pick” and a “SkimmReads” selection and was praised by Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and more. 

Elyssa loves wine, ice cream, Forensic Files, and texting her friends obsessively. (Bio adapted from Elyssa's website.)

Visit Elyssa online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

The four Jacobson children were raised to respect the value of a dollar. Their mother reused tea bags and refused to pay retail; their father taught them to budget before he taught them to ride a bike. And yet, now that they’re adults, their financial lives are in disarray.
The siblings reunite when their newly widowed father puts their Jersey Shore beach house on the market. Packing up childhood memories isn’t easy, especially when there’s other drama brewing. Matthew is miserable at his corporate law job and wishes he had more time with his son; Laura’s marriage is imploding in spectacular fashion; Sophie’s art career is stalled while her boyfriend’s is on the rise; and Noah’s total failure to launch has him doing tech repair for pennies.
When Noah sees an ad for a Powerball drawing, he and his sisters go in on tickets while their brother Matthew passes.  All hell breaks loose when one of the tickets is a winner and three of the four Jacobsons become overnight millionaires. Without their mother’s guidance, and with their father busy playing pickleball in a Florida retirement village, the once close-knit siblings search for comfort in shiny new toys instead of each other.
It’s not long before the Jacobsons start to realize that they’ll never feel rich unless they can pull their family back together. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is one thing you would tell the debut novelist version of yourself?
To chill out. That so much of a book's success is out of the author's hands. It's about timing, luck and some magical alchemy that publishers are still trying to figure out. While it's good to work hard and promote the book, it's important that it doesn't come at the expense of one's mental health and other priorities. 
What were the biggest rewards and challenges of writing Jackpot Summer?
I enjoyed learning so much about real-life lottery winners. Learning how many lottery winners soon go bankrupt and are unhappy despite the windfall shocked me. I enjoyed exploring the reasons why this occurred - it helped me gain perspective on my own goals and what I assume will make me happy. It was challenging to create characters that felt entirely new and fresh from my other books. I write sprawling family dramedies and I want each book to feel totally unique, which each family and its members to be new and interesting. 
If Jackpot Summer was made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
"Money, Money, Money" by ABBA
"Mo Money Mo Problems" by Notorious BIG
If we were to visit you right now, what are some places you would take us to see?
Central Park. It dazzles me every time. And my favorite bookstores around New York City. 
If your life was a TV series, which celebrity would you want to narrate it? 
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss
If you won the lottery, what are three things you would put some of the money toward?
Cancer research, my children's education and a beach house in Malibu

Thanks to Elyssa for chatting with us and to Berkley for coordinating the interview.

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