Today, author Sam Wilde visits my blog and I grill her mercilessly until she agrees to tell us about her book and answer a few questions.
Why Sam Wilde is Awesome
Samantha Wilde is the author of I’ll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home (both from Bantam Books). The at-home mother of three young children, she moonlights as a minister and a yoga teacher. She’s the graduate of Smith College and Yale Divinity School and lives in Western Massachusetts.
About I’ll Take What She Has
Best friends since kindergarten, Nora, a reserved English teacher, and Annie, an out-spoken stay-at-home mother, wrestle with the green-eyed monster when the new history department hire at the suburban Boston prep school where they teach, Cynthia Cypress, arrives on campus. A missing grandmother, depressed sex therapist, and a financial crises add to the comedy in a novel about imperfect friendships, mixed up families, messy motherhood, and the quest for the greenest grass.
Carolyn: Every time I see that cover I smile. That baby looks so happy!
Praise for I’ll Take What She Has
Publisher’s Weekly: “With wit, compassion, and a keen ear for dialogue Wilde explores issues of insecurity, envy, young motherhood, and friendship in this fast-paced work.”
RT Top Pick! “Wilde speaks the language of women and communicates what lies in their hearts…a gem of a read.”
Read the first chapter at the Random House website.
Sam Answers A Few Questions
What made you want to write this story?
I came up with the title and synopsis on the phone with my mother, novelist Nancy Thayer, during a brainstorming session just as I was getting my book contract. The initial idea, to write about envy and newlyweds, came from her, the title and plot from me. As soon as I sat to write the book, the three main characters, Nora, Annie and Cynthia appeared. And though they are all, in a sense, newlyweds, I really ended up writing about motherhood and friendship. Being led by your characters into a story is one of the pure joys of writing.
Every parent is busy, especially when their children are young. Can you talk about how you balance family and your writing day?
I wrote my first novel during my first son’s nap times. He slept one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. Through two more children I have, essentially, stuck with that same schedule. Now I work while my older son is at school, my toddler is napping, and my preschooler has quiet time (usually listening to books on tape). That gives me less than an hour most days—which is hardly enough time to look at emails. I work after bed-times as well, though not every night. Some years I have had a babysitter for roughly three hours a week, some years I haven’t. I love being a mother and for right now, as an at-home mother, I stay close to that identity and vocational calling. Working into the corners, edges, and crumbs of time in my day has made me a more efficient writer, a more patient person, and much less attached to my writing career. Writing an awesome scene and hearing someone call out, “Can you wipe my bum?” really puts everything into perspective.
Writing a funny book is hard. Do you think some writers are just naturally funny or is it something that can be learned? Any tips for those of us who are humor impaired in their writing?
I wholeheartedly agree. It’s hard to be funny! And, of course, when you’re funny, no one takes you seriously! I have the hardest time writing humor when I feel down myself. But I love to achieve funny. In the margins of the manuscript of I’ll Take What She Has, I often wrote, “Funny enough?” The best way I know how to get more funny juice (besides drinking it) is reading funny writers, watching funny films, and listening to funny comedians. Good humor always comes off as effortless, kind of like watching a ballerina float across the stage. Well, I studied ballet seriously for years and my toes bled! The word grueling comes to mind. When you know the hard work and effort required, it doesn’t feel so unnatural to have to work a little at it. But can anyone be funny? No. But a writer doesn’t need to be funny. A writer only needs to find her own authentic voice. Mine somehow came out funny.
One day, you’re walking along thinking about your next yoga glass. Suddenly, a time portal opens up right in front of you. Assume the following things are true:
- you can go anywhere in time you want;
- You will return to your family unscathed and not even late for anything;
- You can bring something back with you without causing a rupture in the space-time continuum that will destroy us all.
- You can’t go back in time to prevent some massive evil because that answer, while probably true, is not not where I’m going with this.
Answer the following: What time period do you choose and why and what object do you bring back and why?
That’s an awesome question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that. It also makes me want to brush up on my history. It’s been so long since I thought clearly; the deficits of mama-brain could potentially lead me to say something like: “I would go to the time of the Egyptians and return with a printing press.” Can I come back with a person? I would probably head out to the turn of the last century, the year 1900, because that’s the time period I studied while an English major at Smith. The changes, excitement and innovation of that time, the cusp of modernity fascinate me. Also, the clothes. Oh, such beautiful clothes. I really do live in the wrong time for fashion. I am the only person I know who doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I would return with (can I have more than one?) hats! Hats and more hats! All those gorgeous, fanciful, elegant, expressive hats. I can’t wait for hats to come back into fashion somewhere other than in my children’s playroom where they always boss me around saying, “Mama, that’s my dress up box.”
What do you hope readers will like best about reading your book?
I hope they will laugh! I hope they will laugh out loud. That’s always my favorite compliment: I never laugh out loud at books and I did when I read yours. In the end, for me, that big laughter is about recognition, a truth being seen, so in laugher, I think so much happens: levity, joy, relief, touch of freedom and healing and a sense that you are not alone.
Any surprises while you were working on the book? Characters who did unexpected things? Did anything make you laugh out loud/cackle evilly while you were writing? If so, what was it?
I rewrote that book so many times over so many years for so many editors that when it finally came time to write a brief description of the book for my publicist, I really didn’t know what the things was about! What surprised me was the adaptability of my characters. The two main ones, Annie and Nora, survived so many editorial changes and remained, at heart, nearly the same. I feel close to them and proud of them. I cheer for them now that the book is out in the world, almost as if I had nothing to do with their story. But then writers are allowed to be weird like that, aren’t they, thinking about their characters as if they were real?
What’s next for you?
In my house, we really take it one day at a time! My husband has such a hard time with planning ahead that he often leaves arranging airline tickets for major business travel to the last minute! This can make some things in life hard, on the other hand, it’s a blessing to find anything encouraging you to stay more in the present moment. I have a third novel that I love nearly done. How happy I would be to have it out there! In the meantime, someone has to clean my house (much neglected with all the publicity I’ve been doing), potty train my toddler, enroll my daughter in gymnastics, teach my son the proper way to print a letter “d” and eat the cake in my refrigerator. I volunteer!