We've all done it ... imagined what would happen to our families in the event of our untimely demise. Sheila Curran took it a step further and wrote about it in her new novel, Everyone She Loved. If you're a fan of Diana Lively is Falling Down -- Sheila's first novel -- you won't be surprised that this story is filled with wise, funny women you can't wait to know better. Grab the book, find a cosy spot and get ready for a great read.
Today, we're honored to be hosting Sheila on the Daily Grommet blog and we'll be giving away a copy of her book to one of our readers. Leave a comment or question for Sheila, a memory about your mother or your friends, and we'll select one reader to win a copy of Everyone She Loved.
This is your second novel. How was writing Everyone She Loved different than the first time around?
I expected it to be easier, to take less dithering. Instead, I found myself facing an entirely new cast of characters in a very different setting. What had changed, and this was enormous, was that I would get daily emails from readers of DIANA LIVELY IS FALLING DOWN telling me how much they enjoyed it. That encouragement – and the unwavering support of my agent, family and friends – got me through the rough bits.
In the Reader's Club Guide at the end of the book you say the inspiration for this story came from a conversation among friends about how hard it is to think about who would raise your children if something ever happened to you. Did you answer the question for yourself about whether Penelope's solution was the right thing to do?
Male friends quibble that the idea of a wicked-stepmother-prevention-taskforce is insulting to men, patronizing, sexist, and, lastly, so 18th century. I know all this. It’s so wrong, on so many levels. It violates all my principles of self-determination. That being said, if I could talk my husband into consulting my sisters and best friends about my replacement (should I die an untimely death) I most certainly would go ever more gently into Dylan Thomas’ famous ‘good night.’
Great question. At heart, great families extend themselves to include dear friends as ‘shirt-tail’ relatives. Each relationship fortifies our ability to love more and better. Rather than being a finite resource, love has a Midas-like influence on everyone who receives it. My family is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and having witnessed my parents’ unflinching willingness to remain open to what life throws at them, I’ve been lucky enough to be blessed by true, deep and forever friendships.
Could you have written this novel before you had children?
NO. Absolutely not. I was just your average neurotic before kids, but they brought out the Olympic Worrier in me. It was in thinking about what could go wrong if I died before they were grown (and how I could prevent it) that led me to write the book.
When did you begin writing?
In 1985. I’d graduated from college and planned to go to law school once my husband had finished his doctorate. I was waitressing and thought writing a novel would be a chance to improve my writing skills. Before I knew it, I realized that I’d stumbled upon an occupation that I adored.
What are some of your favorite stories, and which authors have most influenced you?
Wow, the answer to that question is infinite. I read like I eat and drink, with wild abandon and reckless gluttony. This year I really enjoyed THE HELP, MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, OLIVE KITTERIDGE, and THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY. I’m looking forward to THE OPPOSITE OF ME, a debut novel by Sarah Pekkanen, which Amazon has paired with Everyone She Loved. I have a larger list of great reads on my BLOG if you scroll down on the left to my bookshelf widget).
Is it too early to ask what's next?
Not at all! I’m working on a novel set in midtown Atlanta about a group of friends in which traditional gender roles have been turned upside down, and a memoir about my family and my recent experience with throat cancer.
General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U. S. resident, and at least 18 years of age and you must leave a comment or question for Shelia. No purchase necessary. The winner will be randomly selected and will receive a copy of her book "Everyone She Loved." Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. You are not eligible to win if you have received a prize or giveaway from Daily Grommet in the last six months. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 9am EST through 10pm EST April 23, 2010.