I had an amazing couple of weeks in February and March, traveling to promote The Good Daughter, and one of the fun weekends included the Tucson Book Festival where I met terrific authors like Jen Lancaster, Amy Hatvany, and the lovely, bright, and talented Charity Shumway.
I so enjoyed the panel I was on with Amy and Charity, and since you all met Amy when I featured her here for the release day of her new book, I thought it was time to introduce you to Charity!
Charity, what did you want to be when you were a kid?
Weirdly enough, I wanted to be a lawyer. I think I must have gotten enough late night glimpses of L.A. Law (after I was supposed to be in bed, which made it all the more exciting) to think that lawyering was really sexy. Later, when I was a teenager, I started dreaming about being a writer, but it always felt like such a far-fetched fantasy. It wasn’t until a few years after college and a lot of time spent actually writing that I finally had to own up to how much I wanted the far-fetched fantasy.
What inspires you?
I’m always inspired by the idea that I’m the only one who can do certain things. Ten other people can have the exact same idea for a story as I do, but we’re all going to write it a different way. Maybe my version will be great, maybe it won’t be, but it’ll always be my unique contribution. Ditto for other people and what they create. The idea of our uniqueness is very touching to me.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading a collection of essays by Jill Lepore called The Mansion of Happiness. She’s such a smart, straight-forward writer, and the essays cover such unexpected but delightfully interesting topics (breastfeeding, eugenics and the origins of marriage counseling, and board games about life and morality, just to name a few) that I’ve been totally hooked.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a novel about a conservative woman running for state legislature in Utah (my home state). She has five grown children who are all more liberal than she is but who are working on her campaign anyway. Lots of good family and politics and religion mixed up in there, and I’m having a great time with it so far.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
There are two bits of advice that really stand out to me. One was a visiting writer in grad school who told all of us eager MFA students, “the way to make it as a writer is just to keep writing.” Sounds reductionist, but it’s so true! It’s hard not to get discouraged as a writer. There’s so much rejection, and it can be lonely, and projects can take eons to come to fruition. I think back to that advice all the time, and it helps me to just keep going. The other bit of advice that stands out to me came from a mentor who was helping me make a decision about my first novel. He said, “Work with people you like. You’ll be a lot happier.” Again, simple but true! It’s because of that advice that I ended up with the agent I did and the editor that I did, and he was absolutely right. I couldn’t have made a better, happier choice.
More about Ten Girls To Watch
A radiant debut novel about stumbling through the early years of adulthood— and a love letter to the role models who light the way.
Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a roommate who views rent checks and basic hygiene as optional, and a writing career that’s gotten as far as penning an online lawn care advice column.
So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. After all, she’s being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. Most importantly, she’ll learn that while those who came before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to create our own happy ending.
As a thank you to Charity for being a guest author on my blog, I’m giving away two copies of Ten Girls to Watch along with a fat, fluffy beach towel, a $5 Starbucks drink card, a signed copy of Mrs. Perfect, and lots of fun JP giveaways. To enter to win, just leave a comment in the comment section below here on my JaneBlog and you’re set. Then please, please check back to see if you won, as I still have tons of unclaimed prize boxes stacked in the corner of my office…prizes from Anita Hughes’ contest, Megan Crane’s, and so many many more. Whatever isn’t claimed by Wednesday, will be given away as a bonus prize this week!
Charity’s contest runs through Wednesday night, with the winners announced Thursday morning.
Good luck and have a wonderful week!