Amy Sue Nathan's debut novel, The Glass Wives released Tuesday, and I've been looking forward to sharing about this novel for months. Amy and I met through Backspace years ago, and eventually both found ourselves in Book Pregnant, a group of debut novelists who blog together and celebrate the ups and downs of giving birth to first novels together. We've become dear friends over these many months since we sold our novels, chatting frequently on Facebook messenger about kids, dogs, cooking (or lack thereof), or anything else to procrastinate writing ... or cooking. It's been fun.
I was thrilled when Amy asked me to read her manuscript and consider giving a blurb—my very first! And, as it turns out, my very first to be printed on the cover of a novel. What a privilege for me. I loved the story. Here's what I said in that blurb:
“In The Glass Wives, Amy Sue Nathan examines what it means to build an unconventional family when the original families shatter suddenly and irreparably into pieces. Nathan's adept writing, wry humor, and authentic emotion carried me effortlessly from the beginning of this tender and hopeful debut novel to its satisfying end.” — Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home
(OK, I had to leave that last bit ... it still gives me a little ego boost to see that "author of" thing!)
Here's more about Amy:
Amy Sue Nathan lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the popular blog, Women's Fiction Writers. She has published articles in Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and New York Times Online among many others. Amy is the proud mom of a son and a daughter in college, and a willing servant to two rambunctious rescued dogs.
About The Glass Wives (St. Martin's Press, May 2013):
When a tragic car accident ends the life of Richard Glass, it also upends the lives of Evie and Nicole, and their children. There’s no love lost between the widow and the ex. In fact, Evie sees a silver lining in all this heartache—the chance to rid herself of Nicole once and for all. But Evie wasn’t counting on her children’s bond with their baby half-brother, and she wasn’t counting on Nicole’s desperate need to hang on to the threads of family, no matter how frayed. Strapped for cash, Evie cautiously agrees to share living expenses—and her home—with Nicole and the baby. But when Evie suspects that Nicole is determined to rearrange more than her kitchen, Evie must decide who she can trust. More than that, she must ask: what makes a family?
I wanted to do a special interview with Amy, much like what I did with Sere Prince Halverson last year. As I read and contemplated The Glass Wives, certain themes and ideas emerged. I gave Amy a handful and asked her to choose what resonated with her. She talks about them here, and I love how her responses give the reader an idea of what is contained in this lovely novel!
|photo by Jiri Hodan|
Motherhood is a theme in The Glass Wives, for sure. Every major character is a mother, and how she parents her child is evident, even if it’s not the focus. Even Beth, whose college-age son is only off-the-page (although in an earlier version of the novel he comes home) it’s clear that when he was younger, Beth was an active part of the school and sports community in Lakewood, the fictional Chicago suburb where The Glass Wives is set. It’s more obvious to look right at Evie, who might like to close the door on Nicole but won’t, because she knows it wouldn’t be what is best for her kids. I tried to strike a balance for Evie that isn’t always present in my own life, and that was fun. Although it’s her priority, Evie doesn’t really lose herself in motherhood, and I know I’ve been guilty of that.
|photo: Kicksave2930's Flickr photostream|
Forget about stages. Grief sucks in any stage. What I wanted to accomplish in The Glass Wives was to be realistic, but to encapsulate the grief and healing process to show that it can get better, but maybe not in ways you’d expect.
|Photo: Christina Matheson's Flickr photostream|
Compromise has two meanings to me. A compromise can be meeting someone in the middle so both people benefit. A compromise can also be giving up, letting go, or undermining—yourself, your ideals, your morals, or your beliefs. I’d like to think that in The Glass Wives I don’t allow Evie to compromise herself in a negative way, but that she compromises and meets Nicole in the middle to make life better for herself and her kids.
To me, coffee is something I do, not just something I drink, and I tried to incorporate that into The Glass Wives for Evie, Laney, and Beth.
|Photo: Amy Sue Nathan!|
It’s more of a label for getting together with girlfriends and talking, whether there is really coffee involved or not. For the friends in the novel, they have their own special cups in Evie’s kitchen. I remembered a woman I was friends
with years ago whose best friend lived far away. They each had the same mug and that’s what they used for their coffee (or maybe wine?) when they chatted on the phone. I loved the comfort implied by Evie’s friends having special mugs in her cabinet.
|Photo: Fammy's Flickr photostream|
I hate admitting I had an “ah-ha” moment while watching Oprah years ago, but I did. I realized that what I’d heard was true. Forgiveness is for the victim, if you will, not for the perpetrator. In The Glass Wives, Evie is able to close the door on a portion of her life (when she can) to move forward for the sake of her children. She knows that if she holds onto what makes her angry and hurt she won’t be able to see the good things around her. I like to think Evie inherited that from me, but maybe I’m being too generous.
|Photo: Ehud's Flickr photostream|
I love holidays, especially Jewish holidays that include big family meals. I loved imagining the Seder at Evie’s house. The beauty of fiction is creating something from scratch that you might wish was real but plenty of the fun of fiction is also writing what you’re glad isn’t real. As someone who lives far away from family and spends a lot of holidays at friends’ homes, it was wonderful to write for Evie a big holiday with family and friends at her own house. I don’t often have the chance to do that.
|Photo: cobalt123's Flickr photostream|
Glass is strong, yet fragile; transparent, yet dirties easily. It’s also easy to clean and start over. No, this isn’t a Windex commercial; it’s how I saw the characters in the book and in retrospect, why the last name Glass fit them so well. I chose the name because it was one-syllable, Jewish (but not overly ethnic), and worked with the name Evie, which was always the name I preferred for the main character.
I didn’t realize until well into the writing process how the last name Glass had multiple meanings. To me that is beshert—meant to be.
GIVEAWAY:One lucky reader is going to get a paperback copy of The Glass Wives. Simply leave a comment here before Friday at midnight, telling what resonated with you while reading Amy's answers. We'll randomly draw and notify a winner Saturday. Please leave an email address or link your comment to your website so Amy can notify you in some way, as I will be out of the country and unable to update the post itself. Your copy will be shipped as soon as possible!
Thanks for stopping by What Women Write. I hope you'll find and read The Glass Wives!