Carrying on with my Sleigh Read from last week, I’ve invited a girlfriend in the sleigh with me – Jess Riley, one of my favorite women’s fiction authors. Do yourself a favor and put both of her books in your stocking- Driving Sideways and her new novel, All the Lonely People. It’s such a clever premise and I guarantee you’ll relate – especially this time of year.
About the book:
What happens next is a heartwarming, funny, and surprising journey to forgiveness and healing. Is blood really thicker than water? And how far do we have to go to find our way back home again?
Dedicated to anyone who has ever wanted to unfriend a relative on Facebook, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE is about family: those you make … and those you make peace with.
Q. Your new novel, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE, deals with a woman divorcing her family at the holidays. Have you known anyone to do that? Where did you get that idea?
I’ve known deeply estranged families who simply don’t speak to one another, but I’ve never heard of anyone posting an ad on Craigslist for a new family! I had so much fun coming up with the characters who would answer such an ad.
Q. Particularly, your heroine is divorcing her siblings, so spill it: any family drama we need to know about? And why are siblings so mean to each other?
My family is a pretty good one; sure, we have our squabbles, challenges, and insecurities like everybody else, but we really do love one another. My sister and I are ten years apart, so we never fought about boys or clothes growing up; despite our age difference, we’re very close now. And my brother is so sweet and hilarious. The sibling dynamic does fascinate me, though. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of overt or subconscious competition over resources, success, or attention, or even sometimes a rivalry ignited by even subtle parent favoritism, but there are so many reasons that relationship is complex, and can be a painful one. And when one or both parents are gone, it seems like brothers and sisters face the real test of their relationship.
Speaking of which, my parents are both alive and well. My mother likes to joke about this book, though: “This is the one I die in, right?”
Q. Driving Sideways is one of my favorite novels and you have stellar reviews on ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE so far. What do you do to keep new book stress down? AND combined with holiday stress? Do tell!
Wine, kickboxing, and imaginary yoga. 🙂 Actually, my day job is getting busier, and that provides a nice diversion from obsessing over Amazon rankings. But it’s a crazy time of year for everyone; I try to set realistic expectations. And I make a lot of lists. And think about taking up yoga.
Q. Any favorite holiday traditions you’d like to share? And what about horrible holiday traditions you wish you could get out of?
It can be different every year, actually: one year my aunt had us caroling in her neighborhood (I’m a terrible singer so I just kind of mouthed the lyrics from the back row). Another year my parents chopped their Christmas tree down from their own backyard landscaping. But someone is always serving brandy slush, and no matter where we are there are always mountains of cookies and boxes of wine lined up on a card table. I can’t say we have any horrible holiday traditions I want to get out of, mostly because they can lead to comedy gold and might show up in a book one day. But all the white elephant exchanges do seem to need a little jazzing up.
Thanks, Jess. Friends, get to know Jess – and her books – with the links below! See you back here next week.