Have you ever thought you read every book by one of your favorite authors and then discover that you missed one? It felt like Christmas when I found out After I Do was a book that I had not tackled and discovered it was available on audio through our library. Over a day of cooking, I laughed, cried, and loved this book so much that I reached out to Taylor to tell her how very special it was to me. It is, in fact, my personal favorite of all the books she had written. I asked if she would mind sharing a little behind this incredible book with you and she graciously agreed to share with us today. What a treat!
After I Do is a must-read author recommendation, recommended by Liz Fenton in her Sundays With Writers interview. Like I said, somehow I had missed this one in between her other two incredible books Forever, Interrupted and Maybe In Another Life.
I can now say that I’ve read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and this is, by far, her best work. After I Do is a brutally honest portrayal of a failing marriage that gives us glimpses into our own marriage struggles that we deal with daily and how, what once was endearing, can be the things that we can’t stand about our spouse.
Lauren & Ryan take a year off of their marriage in a temporary split to see if they really are meant to be together. As they navigate the world without one another, they discover a lot about themselves and each other.
A hopeful book filled with a family of characters that feel like your own, Reid’s book makes you feel like part of the family as you root for Lauren & Ryan to find each other again. Highly recommending this one!
I gave this book 5 stars and included it in our October ’15 Must-Reads List!
Grab your cup of coffee and let’s settle in with Taylor to hear more behind this beautiful book and some new projects that she happens to have underway!
You are one of the few writers that I have devoured their entire body of work and loved every single book! After I Do though has to be my favorite (so far) of yours! Why did you decide to explore a couple taking a year away from each other in their marriage as the premise for this story?
First of all, thank you for reading all three of my books! I came up with the idea for After I Do just as I was finishing Forever, Interrupted. I knew that I wanted to delve into a story of what happens after you’ve fallen out of love. I figured the most interesting way for me to do that was to create two people who used to be madly in love with each other find themselves on the edge of divorce. Then the question becomes, “Can they fall back in love?” Answering that was the fun of writing the book.
You chose to narrate the story from Lauren’s perspective, but one way that we really can delve into Ryan’s story is through the unsent emails that Lauren reads in his drafts folder. Why did you choose to tell the story in this way instead of a more “he said, she said,” narration with alternating voices?
Great question. I wrestled with this for a long time. There was even a draft – I think maybe it was draft three – where I worried that I needed to scrap half of the book and add in Ryan’s point of view. But I really wanted this to feel like a story of self-exploration and not a book where the reader was choosing sides. I wanted the audience to connect with Lauren and her family. So I decided to stick with her point of view and work hard at making Ryan’s voice come through.
There were moments that I laughed out loud at the minor irritations that seem so major when we are married. I love my husband, but those things like not putting your dishes in the sink or not putting clothes in the hamper can really escalate, you know? Did you channel some of your silly inner rages with your spouse in the email banter between Lauren & Ryan?
Ha! I tried really hard not to air my own dirty laundry in the book but I did tap into the feeling of,“I love you but I hate you so damn much,” in order to capture how frustrating it can be to live with another human being. I’m sure some of my own marriage snuck in there unbeknownst to me… Case in point: I have a dog named Rabbit and Lauren and Ryan’s dog is named Thumper (who was a rabbit). I didn’t even notice it until a reader pointed it out. So there’s probably there’s more of me in there than I realize.
There are many beautiful moments in this book, but one line really stood out for me in particular that I highlighted. It was, “We are two people who used to be in love. What a beautiful thing to have been. What a sad thing to be.” Hello, heartstrings! So many moments really just cut me to the core. Were there any scenes that were particularly emotional for you to write about?
I’m thrilled you said that because that line was a particular favorite of mine as well! I always have certain ideas or sentiments that I try to write towards as I’m crafting my first draft. And I was most definitely writing toward that line. There were a few scenes that were very gratifying and deeply emotional to write but they are all at the end and I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice it to say, the resolution of everyone’s storylines meant a lot to me.
Typically, I don’t really get wrapped up in the supporting characters in a book, but in this one, I was just as attached to the family as I was to Lauren & Ryan. Did you have a favorite family member? Do you ever envision writing a book about any of the other characters in this story?
I think every single character in this book has more story ahead of them. Which is why I’m super excited that I’ve signed a deal with ABC Family to adapt After I Do as a half-hour series. It’s very early stages and the development process is never a sure thing, but I’m very excited about the idea of seeing where Charlie, Rachel, Leslie, Mila, Lauren, and Ryan’s stories take them.
I know you did a lot of research on marriages as you were preparing for this book. Why did you want to research the history of marriage and what was the most interesting thing you discovered about the act of marriage?
The book is about Lauren and Ryan’s marriage, but it’s also about marriage in general. It’s about opting out of marriage, childless marriage, marriage equality, non-monogamous marriage, raising children, etc. So I wanted to learn about the many different ways humans have interpreted the word and how the definition is changing with every generation. I think the most interesting thing I learned is just how rare monogamous love-based marriage truly is. This type of marriage that we refer to as “traditional marriage,” is fairly new and not particularly common in human history.
Did writing about Lauren’s flaws and Ryan’s flaws make you hyper aware of you or your own husband’s issues? Did it bring out any of your own insecurities about marriage?
It definitely made me think about what I do in my own relationship that might one day lead to systemic problems. When you write a book about how a marriage has gone wrong, it makes you look at your own relationship and analyze whether you’re guilty of any of the things your characters are. I think writing the book was one of the best things I did for my marriage because it required me to truly ask myself what I thought could ruin a relationship. And once you answer a question like that, you have to start heeding your own advice.
One thing that I didn’t know about you, as I was researching for this interview, is that you are a triple threat! Not only do you write books, but you also have a Hulu series (Resident Advisors) and you write for magazines… and I thought I had a hard time describing my job! That’s a lot of balls in the air as a creative. How do you keep inspired and do you have a system for gathering and storing all of your ideas for these storylines?
I’m a big proponent of lists. I have To Do lists every day as well as project lists on the walls of my office. What projects am I currently working on? What still needs to be done for each one? What do I need to do today? And then I have a master list of every idea I’ve ever had, that I use as a well to draw from whenever an opportunity arises. I’ve been blessed with a neurotic, type-A working style, which means that everything is compartmentalized and controlled. That being said, I have a decidedly un-neurotic and non-type-A living style. So I never miss a deadline but I am always losing my keys.
I am so excited to hear that, “Forever, Interrupted,” (listed as one of my own personal top ten’s for 2013) is being adapted into a screenplay. Do you have any information you can share about where you are in that process or any of the casting decisions that have been made?
As announced, Dakota Johnson is attached to star as Elsie! Which is very exciting. And as I understand it, the script is being written right now. I am a big fan of the producers – and trust their vision — so I know they are doing a great job bringing Elsie, Susan, and Ben to life.
If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be (we list it with all the recommendations over the year HERE)?
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I stumbled upon it at the used bookstore attached my library and bought a copy of it for four dollars last December. I have since recommended it to everyone that will listen to me and have bought multiple copies. It is a retelling of the story of Achilles’s life leading up to and through the Trojan War. I can’t tell you what I love most about it because I love everything about it so much. It is stunningly romantic, a pleasure to read, incredibly thought-provoking, and epically tragic, with some of the most wonderful sentences I’ve read in some time. It manages to straddle both classic literature and soap opera in one story. It’s so good (and so juicy) that I would call it a guilty pleasure except that you have nothing to feel guilty about because it’s so very beautiful and keenly smart.
You can connect with Taylor Jenkins Reid on Facebook or through her website! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads,through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!
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