The First Husband is your third book, following London Is the Best City in America and The Divorce Party. How do you develop your story ideas and, if you had to pick a favorite so far, which would it be?
Laura: For me, my work on a book starts with a question. With London Is the Best City in America, the question was: How do we choose what we want our lives to look like? With The Divorce Party, I asked myself: How do we stay with one partner over the course of the lives we choose?
With The First Husband, I found myself considering: when your life falls apart, how do you pick a new life that is going to work better?
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite book of the three (they are also special to me for different reasons), though– I will say–I’m beyond humbled by the reader response to The First Husband. I’m so thrilled it is touching so many people’s lives!
In The First Husband we are introduced to a wide variety of characters. Do you relate to any of them in particular? If so, which ones and why? Are there any characters that you don’t like?
Laura: I relate to all of the characters in different ways. I admire Griffin’s integrity; empathize with Jesse’s flawed ability to love; and relate to Annie’s desire for both safety and freedom—twin desires which often feel diametrically opposed.
Of course, they each also exhibit traits that I don’t like. I work hard to create complex characters—which inherently means they will make questionable decisions, do unfortunate things. But I always write from a place of looking to forgive them! Especially as they try to redeem themselves…
You highlight a variety of relationships and marriages in The First Husband, both good and bad. Were there any in particular that where harder to write than others?
Laura: It was difficult to write about Annie’s relationship with Nick. It is often difficult to explore a relationship like theirs, a situation in which one person clearly loves the other more. This was also a dynamic I explored in The Divorce Party between Gwyn and Thomas. It was painful for me to write about it then too.
But I keep at it because I think there is something important to understand about the longing one can have for someone he or she is living with or married to—or fighting to hold onto — no matter how uneven the playing field. While it may not appear that way on the surface, sometimes this type of longing can ultimately be lonelier than if we don’t have the person at all.
I always wonder whether authors think about where their characters go once the story ends. Without hopefully giving too much away, where would you envision Annie and her man in the future? Do you think she is happy with the life she chose?
Laura: I hope so! I like to think—whatever comes for them—she isn’t lonely anymore. She has a newfound security—and is living in a more comfortable version of her own skin.
Can you give us a peek into the life of author Laura Dave? When you are writing a book what does your typical day look like?
Laura: I get up early and am behind the computer by 9 AM at the latest. If this doesn’t happen, the work day is pretty much shot. A typical writing day starts at 8:30 and goes to 12:30 or 1 PM. Sometimes longer. Then a break for lunch. I usually spend the afternoons, post-lunch, following up on work emails, reading, and other non-novel work. I try to avoid email and social media until this time. (Some days go better than others for this.)
Then I cook dinner. I love to cook. And it provides a closure to my work day that I find very important. That said, when I’m deeper into a book, I will sometimes have a second writing session in the evening. But that one is usually fun — because it means the writing is going so well, I don’t want to wait for the morning to get back to it.
What can fans expect next from you?
Laura: A new novel! I have to say: I’m really enjoying this one and I hope to have a working draft by December. It is told from two points of view and I am just having the best time with it. I’m also in the early stages of adapting The First Husband for film.
What is your ultimate luxury?
Laura: Trips to wine country. I live in Los Angeles, and my fiancé and I love driving the two and a half hours north to Santa Ynez especially. The drive alone is gorgeous. And, twice this year, we’ve rented a farmhouse near Los Olivos. I’m truly happy there, and completely relaxed. I guess the ultimate luxury would be buying a farmhouse up there. Though, I’ll take my few weekends for now. One step at a time!
Don’t forget to check out our review of The First Husband!