Taylor Jenkins Reid talks all about her new novel Maybe in Another Life (out July 7), which explores the possibility of parallel universes and the outcomes of a seemingly small decision that can impact your life forever.
SheKnows: What inspired you to write Maybe in Another Life?
Taylor Jenkins Reid: I have always been obsessed with the concepts of fate and chance, and I jump at any story that has parallel universes. In fact, parallel universe episodes of some of my favorite TV shows — Grey’s Anatomy and Felicity, for example — and the movie Sliding Doors were all big inspirations for Maybe in Another Life.
SK: What’s the biggest challenge you faced in your career as a writer?
TJR: Getting your books into the hands of readers can be a very daunting task. There are so many great books being published every season. You have to work hard to make sure readers know about your work.
SK: Were there any obstacles you faced because you’re a woman? Are there any roadblocks women unfairly encounter in the book world?
TJR: I think we do both women and men an injustice when we assume that books about women are of interest only to women. I’d love to see my books classified as “fiction” rather than “women’s fiction.” That being said, the audience that I have found within the label of “women’s fiction” has proven to be made up of truly incredible people and readers.
SK: Do you have any strange writing habits, or routines when you write?
TJR: I have a habit of watching TV for an hour or two before I sit down to write every day. I find that it allows me to begin thinking about my story without actually officially “starting.” I started this habit when I wrote my debut. I would watch an episode of Friday Night Lights before I started for the day. Over the years, I binged.
SK: What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
TJR: Probably from myself. I can’t remember how many times, at the beginning, I talked myself out of doing something because I was scared.
SK: What advice would you give up-and-coming women authors?
TJR: Take the time to find your voice. What do you offer that no one else does? What story do you have to tell that hasn’t been told?
SK: Which authors and/or books inspire your writing most?
TJR: I make a conscious effort to read contemporary books for pleasure and not make work out of it. That means I end up drawing inspiration from classics more than anything. I feel, right now, hugely inspired by The Great Gatsby, The Little Prince and The Odyssey.
SK: What’s one characteristic the main character in your book possesses that you wish you had?
TJR: Hannah is just one of those people who you know is always going to land on her feet. Unfortunately, that’s a trait that usually can only be observed from the outside. People that the rest of us know are going to land on their feet rarely see it in themselves. But if I could be a bit more like Hannah, it would be to feel confident that things will work out.
SK: Describe your book in three words.
TJR: Sliding Doors book.
SK: Is there any particular scene in Maybe in Another Life that stands out to you, or has special meaning — and why?
TJR: The last two scenes of the book, and the way they play off one another, were the entire reason I set out to write the book. They hold great meaning for me and I’m very proud of them and excited to hear what readers think.
SK: In your opinion, what are the book’s most important themes?
TJR: Fate, chance and soul mates. I’m very interested in learning how readers feel about those three things going into the book and if they feel the same way after.
SK: What is the best thing about writing women’s fiction?
TJR: I love writing about love. On an almost daily basis, I reflect on how lucky I am to have made a career out of what it feels like to love.
SK: What will you be reading this summer? Or what are you currently reading?
TJR: So many good books out this summer! I’ll be reading new books by Jennifer Weiner, Judy Blume, Harper Lee, Sarah Pekkanen and Jen Lancaster as well as a few exciting debuts: Bethany Chase’s The One That Got Away, Karen Katchur’s The Secrets of Lake Road and Karma Brown’s Come Away with Me.
SK: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
TJR: Binge-watch TV, snuggle my pit bull, bake elaborate cakes and then complain that I’m the only one eating them.
SK: What projects will you be working on next?
TJR: I have another book coming out next summer that is taking up most of my attention at the moment.
SK: Who’s your favorite female character ever, and why?
TJR: Such a hard question! I’m going with Rachel Samstat from Nora Ephron’s Heartburn. So funny, charming, heartbroken, flawed and interesting.
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SK: What kind of stereotypes do you see in women’s fiction that frustrate you?
TJR: The stereotype that most frustrates me about the genre isn’t a creative one but a marketing one. There’s no reason why books about women should only be for women. Women read books about men all the time.
SK: What type of characters do you want to see more of in women’s fiction?
TJR: I’d like to see a few more characters who wear pants on the front cover. I almost never wear dresses! I want a lady in some cool jeans, maybe even sandals instead of high heels. A girl can dream, right?