Monday, August 24, 2009

aFTeR You BY JuLie BuXBaum

A MUST READ!! Win Julie Buxbaum's AFTER YOU!

I met Julie Buxbaum when her first book, The Opposite of Love, came out and she agreed to have dinner with me and some friends after her reading. Not only is she an incredible writer, she is so deserving of the success she has had, and just a really kind and fun person.

The Opposite of Love is being made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway, and her next book, After You, debuts this week, and if you don’t win a copy here, you MUST go out and buy it! It’s a book on love and loss, and of figuring out your place in the world, and who you most want to have as a part of that world of yours.

After You is about Ellie and Lucy’s friendship and the lengths one will go to take care when tragedy strikes. It’s about Lucy’s precocious 8-year-old daughter and it’s about marriage, a murder and the lengths one will go to take care of a friend, putting all things aside that used to be important. It’s about stepping away from everything you’ve ever known to find out what it is you’re most meant to need.

Here’s what Amazon says of the book:
The complexities of a friendship. The unexplored doubts of a marriage. And the redemptive power of literature ... Julie Buxbaum, the acclaimed author of The Opposite of Love, delivers a haunting, gloriously written novel about love, family, and the secrets we hide from each other--and ourselves.

Julie and I chatted about her new book, After You, her love of reading and writing, and a new baby on the way!

Stephanie: There are so many questions I want to ask you but they would give away some of the plotlines so, we'll go cryptic here! After You begins with a murder, but to me it was really a love story. What do you think are some of the themes in the book?

Julie: I was really interested in looking at the question of how well we truly know the people we love, and also who we become when we lose those who most defined us. I'm also constantly intrigued by the concept of home: what does it mean? Is it a place, a person, a feeling?

Stephanie: Good concept. So, where or what, is home for you, Julie?

Julie: Interesting question. I dedicate After You to my husband, "my home spot." So for me, personally, home has so much more to do with people than place.

Stephanie: Was it hard for you to create a character who would drop everything she had to help the daughter of her best friend? I don't know that I would be that kind!

Julie: What an interesting question. It wasn't difficult for me to imagine, because as the novel progresses it becomes clear that Ellie does not necessarily have pure motives, or to put it a better way, she is not dropping everything just out of kindness. No doubt she feels a responsibility to Sophie as her godmother, and to Lucy too, but she is also finding a convenient excuse to run away from her own life. I think that impulse, combined with her genuine love for Sophie, make her actions much more understandable.

Stephanie: Tell us about Ellie and her husband's relationship? What do you think was wrong for them to be so disconnected?

Julie: Sometimes the saddest part about a loss, is not just the loss itself, but the wedge it can create between people, especially when they grieve in different ways. I think this is what happened with Ellie and Phillip. After the traumatic experience of losing a baby, they have trouble turning to the other for comfort, and let distance creep between them. Marriage is always work, but during the worst of times, I think we sometimes forget what we need to do to stay connected, and tragedy only gets compounded.

Stephanie: The Secret Garden plays a huge role in After You, and I think it's your favorite childhood book? How did The Secret Garden affect you the first time you read it, and how old were you? How many times have you read it?

Julie: I must have been about seven or eight, about the same age as Sophie is in After You. I just remember sitting on my mother's lap and begging her to let us read another chapter before bed. I can't tell you how many times I've actually read The Secret Garden since, but it must be an obscene number. I read it at least once a year, and turn to it pretty much whenever I'm going through a tough time. It's just magical and comforting. As close to a perfect book as one can hope to encounter.

Stephanie: Sophie is a very mature and complex little girl. Did you base her on someone you know? Did you have to spend time with any little girls to create Sophie? What was that like?

Julie: I didn't base her on anyone I know, but the more her character developed, the more I found that she reminded me of myself at that age. I too was a bit annoyingly precocious, and like Sophie, I remember being aware that much more was going on than I actually understood, and finding myself frustrated by what I didn't know. (I too always had a book in my hand, and loved Nancy Drew.) As for actual research, I did observe at an elementary school, just to get a sense of how kids interact at that age, of their conversations, speech patterns, that sort of thing. And from time to time, I'd check in with a close friend who is a teacher to gut check about whether Sophie's thoughts and actions were age appropriate.

Stephanie: I know your husband's name is Indy, so I wondered if Sophie's best friend, Inderpal, was based on him? Did you plan that, and why? What did he think?

Julie: I did! As a writer, it's lots of fun to put the occasional shout-outs in a book, but this was the first time I based a character on an actual person. My husband has always said that he wishes we had known each other when we were little, so as Sophie started to resemble me, I thought it would interesting to create a little boy version of him, and see how they interacted. (I should mention that little Inderpal, or "Indy", serves the plot in other ways too. I didn't only write him in for my amusement!) There are some differences between my Indy and fictional Indy, but I hope my husband enjoyed the rendering. I have to admit that I love the character; he's just so dorky and cute.

Stephanie: I adored Indy in the book as well! I know your first book, The Opposite of Love is optioned for a movie with Anne Hathaway - what's the scoop on that? Is there a movie deal in the works for After You? Who would you want to play Ellie?

Julie: I'm beyond excited that The Opposite of Love is being made into a film. And the fact that Anne Hathaway is set to star is absolutely amazing. I don't think I could have picked a better person to play Emily. No movie in the works for After You yet, but I'll keep you posted on that front. As for who I want to play Ellie, I don't know. I need to think more about that one. Since the Hollywood powers that be did such a great job in casting Emily, maybe I should leave it to them to pick someone for Ellie?

Stephanie: There are characters in both of your books who have lost their mothers. I know your own mom passed away when you were young. So you must have personal feelings that you know how to weave into your stories, but it must also be very hard to bring this to the surface. How do you do it? Is it sad to write what you write?

Julie: Sometimes I get sad when I write, if only because I am putting my characters, whom I've grown to love, through heart wrenching things. But unfortunately, as a writer you don't have a much a choice about doing this. We need to torture our characters for plot! One thing that has helped is that both Ellie and Emily, the main characters of After You and The Opposite of Love, are both very different people from me in so many ways, and so I was able to keep my distance from their grief. Even though Sophie in many way resembles me as a kid, she loses her mother at 8, while I lost mine at 14, an age gap which I think renders the experiences very distinct. (Though come to think of it, I may have had a tough time if I had chosen to write the book from Sophie's perspective, because it may have hit too close to home.) Since the book is more Ellie's story (and even Lucy's) than Sophie, After You, I think, is more a meditation on loss more generally--not just of a mother, but of a best friend, a baby, a marriage.

Stephanie: When I had the ultimate pleasure of meeting you and having dinner with you, it was just after The Opposite of Love came out. I had asked what your next book was going to be about. All you said was there was a character in Opposite who will show up in After You. What's the connection?

Julie: Ahh, great question. I'm not going to say, because I'm curious whether readers of The Opposite of Love will spot the very small cross-over. (I very much hope they do, but it may be too subtle.) If a reader has read both, though, and wants to know the connection, please feel free to email me and I'm happy to fill you in. But here's a hint: In The Opposite of Love, the character only appears in an entirely professional context; in After You, she appears in an entirely personal one.

Stephanie: And for the record, I caught that cross-over connection IMMEDIATELY! ... So, off-topic, you're pregnant with your first baby, a girl! What's the most important lesson you want to teach your daughter?

Julie: This may sound silly, but I think I learned one my most valuable life lessons from reading Nancy Drew as a kid: Life is much more fun if you are curious. I very much hope to pass that on.

Stephanie: I completely got goosebumps from this concept of yours on lessons! I hope that’s the case too! What do you want your daughter to know about the author in you?

Julie: I am not sure that it's important for my daughter to know the author in me, but I do hope to show her what a blessing it is to pursue something you love. I have no idea what my daughter will one day be passionate about, but whatever that is, I hope she is not afraid to pursue it. I do hope I pass on my love of reading, though, not only because it will be something we can share, but because books have been such a reliable companion for me over the years. I would be happy for her if she could have that too.

Stephanie: Are you working on your next book yet? I hope so! Any initial ideas on the story?

Julie: I am, but it's still in the very early stages. Not yet ready to talk about it. I am a little superstitious, and I feel like I could jinx it.

Stephanie: Now, fun questions, not that the above questions were not fun, but let's learn a little bit more about you!

Your daily go-to websites?

JB: New York Times, first and foremost. Daily Mail (embarrassing I know) for the gossip column, and because I think it's fun to get a sense of the British gossip since I live in London. Jezebel. Slate. Double Ex. The Daily Beast. The Huffington Post. Of course, Facebook and Twitter. Oh man, I'd get so much more done if there wasn't a thing called the internet.

Octomom or Kate (and you CAN'T say NEITHER!)

JB: I'm going with Octomom. As a woman pregnant with a single baby, I simply cannot fathom being pregnant with eight babies at once. Putting aside for a moment the morality questions involved, the sheer physical act of it is pure lunacy. Eight babies. Ouch, I hurt just thinking about it.

Angelina or Jen?

JB: I'd rather be friends with Jen, but think Angelina sure does a hell of a lot of good in the world. So personally Jen. Professionally, Angelina.

Steph: Ooh, Julie, you are perfectly politically correct with this answer! Now THEY both will want starring roles in After You!

Kate Perry or Lady GaGa?

JB: Neither? Uhoh, I'm officially old.

Favorite band?

JB: Counting Crows. Fell in love with them in high school, and never quite got over it.

Steph: Oh, I think Adam Duritz is dirty hot! One of my favorite songs in the world is Murder of One by Counting Crows! I love the line: I walk along these hillsides in the summer ’neath the sunshine, I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me.

Favorite food?

JB: Anything with avocado in it.

Steph: Ha - we are SOULMATES! I had an amazing lunch today of diced tomatoes, avocado and feta cheese on baked pita chips. It’s awesome!

Favorite TV pleasure?

JB: I am embarrassingly addicted to Big Brother UK. I can't help it. I love it. There I said it. First step is admitting you have a problem.

Dessert you cannot live without?

JB: Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.

Favorite Disney character?

JB: Belle from Beauty and the Beast. No idea why.

Favorite memoir?

JB: Martin Amis: Experience. He spends a ridiculously large portion of the book obsessing over his British teeth. Hilarious and brilliant.

Steph: And now, my good readers, you will have a chance to win one of two books Julie and I are giving away on Manic Mommy! Just leave a comment and make sure you leave a way for me to contact you, and you'll be entered! And if you don't win a copy, do yourself an incredible favor and by it as a gift for you!

And, if you'd like to read the Q&A I did with Julie when Opposite came out, it's here.


Denise said...

I'd love to read it!!! :)

Julie P. said...

I have the exact same Favorite Disney Character! I'd love to win her new book!


LYF108 said...

What a great Q&A! I read The Opposite of Love on vacation this year and loved it. I expected it to be a fluff beach read, but was surprised at the depth. I cried at the end! Looking forward to Julie's next book.

You can DM me on Twitter @LYF108 for my email address

sklay723 said...

These both sound like fantastic books. Thanks for sharing the interview!!!

CLH said...

OH, please please please please! Pick me! I am intrigued, I have been stalking you for years now, and I have NEVER won anything from you, Steph!!! This is Christa and you KNOW me!!! Also, if it helps the case, I love avacodo and Belle too! Your interview with her was really, very enjoyable!! Also, I have stopped buying books in anticipation of getting a Kindle for Christmas- remember, I am homeless right now and my hubby has VERBOTEN book-buying until we have a home again, so SOMEBODY's got to slip me the goods!! HAhAH!
Thanks for posting that!

Debs Desk said...

Great interview and the book sounds great. I have read The Opposite of Love and really like it.

Aunt Cindy said...

I'm in the middle of Opposite of Love right now. I'm in a great book club made up of women who met on Twitter! DM me & I'll tell you how to find us. You can send me a dm to tell me that I won the new book, too :) @auntcindysattic

Christine in NJ said...

Great Interview Manic!... My mom is currently reading my copy of Opposite of Love so I hope to get it back SOON! It will be my next read... and hopefully I'll finish just in time as I receive my winning copy of After You! HaHa.

And if by chance I don't win... I will certainly buy the book!


GreenFairyLV said...

I would LOVE to win a copy of After You. I had no idea I would love The Opposite of Love so much, it's a must read. I learned so much from your interview. I had no idea a movie was being made based on The Opposite of Love, but when I was reading it I thought "this should be a movie or a tv show." Anne Hathaway will be perfect as Emily. Congrads to Julie, I didn't know she was pregnant either. She is so nice to respond to my tweets, I wish her great success.

TWITTER @GreenFairyLV said...

It sounds amazing!!!!!! Cannot wait to read!

xxxx said...

Me me me meeeeee! I just got done rereading The Opposite of Love just last night, actually!

AND I am going to see Counting Crows this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Pick me!! I'm waiting for the Opposite of Love to be returned to my local library....hopefully my turn will come soon! And I could save you postage by picking it up!

Keeping my fingers crossed....

Gina said...

I loved The Opposite of Love, so I can't wait to read this one!

morninglight mama said...

You are such a cool and connected chick, Manic! :) Great interview, and I look forward to reading Julie's new one, as I enjoyed Opposite of Love when I read it earlier this year!

Jen said...

would love to win this book, opposite of love was fantastic.
on twitter, @littlejennywren.

jpetroroy said...

I'd love to win this! I adored The Opposite of Love.

seamusandmaggie said...

I would love to win this book too! I'm in the Twitter Book Club with Aunt Cindy (above), and we're reading The Opposite of Love. It's very very good. :)

Bridget said...

Sounds like a great book! I would really like to read it.

Shelley said...

Yay, I would love to win a new book right now. I just finished The Time Traveler's Wife, and I have nothing to read because I am number 184 on the wait list at the library for Jennifer Weiner's BFF. Pick me, random number generator! :)

Trish Ryan said...

I love Julie's writing and I love your contests, so of course I have to comment. Great Q&A (sign me up for the pita chips w/avocado next time I'm in Chicago!)

Cata63 said...

I am so in love with AFTER YOU already and I didnt even buy it yet. I read the Q&A and I need to win it. Still have Opposite of Love in my book pile but I am so going to read it.

DawnfromCA said...

I read The Opposite of Love and was going to suggest After You to my book club for our next selection! Karma!
Enjoyed the interview! Thanks for enlightening and entertaining us, as always!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much everyone for your interest in AFTER YOU and THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE! So appreciate it, and I wish I had extra copies to give away to everyone. For those of you who are reading either book for your book clubs, drop me an email juliebux(at)gmail(dot)com. I love to call in and chat with reading groups.

And thanks again Steph for running the Q&A! Was a lot of fun!

All the best,
Julie Buxbaum

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Julie, I loved doing the Q&A with you and LOVED After You! I can't wait for everyone to read it. And how awesome of you to offer to chat with book clubs! I know that will make a lot of people happy!! : )

Kirsten said...

I would love it, please. I love to read. That's all.

Kristin said...

I want to win!

Valerie G from GA said...

It sounds great! I love reading and would LOVE to win this book!

keltban said...

Sounds fantastic! I'm sure it would make a great read!

Jenn Stratford said...

Book me!

Michelle said...

I read (and cried buckets over) The Opposite of Love. I am so stoked that it's being made into a film. Because I love having hysterics in public. I will definitely be reading this... hopefully the copy you send me :)

sarah pekkanen said...

I loved Julie's debut, and am sure I'd like this one just as much.

Unknown said...

REALLY? The Opposite of Love is going to be a movie?? I LOVED that book and I can't wait for the movie!!!

I'm so excited!

And I just finished all the books I won. I have a question, "French Mistress". I noticed in the back she has written some other books. And two "ladies" from THIS book have their own books written about them. Do you know anything about them? Is there an order to read those books?

But I must say, my second favorites was "On the Divinity of Second Chances". I just loved Jade so very much, and her dog. How very sad, but what a WONDERFUL book!!!!

shopgirl said...

OOOOHHHH a giveaway - nothing puts a smile on my face more than a giveaway!! Thanks for hosting it and I hope I'm the lucky winner!!
my email: