You may have seen my recent post about Cristina Alger’s The Was Not The Plan, a fabulous beach read that I can’t rave enoigh about. I was lucky enough to ask the mom of two a few questions about her writing as well as some fun scoop on her! Read below and again grab the book before your next vacation or trip to the beach but remember sunscreen too as you’ll be so absorbed into the book you’ll surely get a tan 😉
I wanted to write a book about someone who is grappling with the same issues I’ve been grappling with since becoming a parent three and half years ago: What does it mean to be a good parent? How can anyone be physically and emotionally present for their kids while also providing for them financially? And how does one parent effectively in the face of grief? I am blessed to have an amazing partner with whom I share all responsibilities: my husband and I both work, we both change diapers, we both do midnight feeds and sleep on the floor next to the crib when one of our kids is sick. But Charlie has to do all of these things on his own, and I think that’s what makes his journey so heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
I know you were a former financial analyst and attorney. Charlie struggles with life-work balance throughout the book. Did you find it was a struggle for you? If not did you see it happening with co-workers a lot?
Every day. New York is such an intense place to live; the cost of living is incredibly high and people here are, on the whole, very career-focused and hardworking. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I worked all the time. I stood in awe of my co-workers who, like Charlie, were doing the same thing, except with children at home.
As an author what do you find gives you balance while writing a novel and simultaneously raising two little ones?
Balance? What is this magical balance of which you speak? Honestly, most days I’m just trying to keep my head above water with two little kids. I try to remind myself that this stage of my life is temporary, and eventually they will be in school and I’ll have more time to write, and that helps me just go with the flow and enjoy this time with them. A partner at my law firm once told me that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in life is seeing balance as a daily struggle. If you try to do everything well every day, you will inevitably fail and get frustrated. She thought it was more important to achieve balance over the course of, say, a month or a year, and I think she’s right. I have days when I don’t write a word and days when I’m traveling to a book event and don’t get to see my kids. But overall, I have a decent balance that works for me and that’s the important thing.
Like Charlie did with Caleb, what is the best part about raising your family in NYC?
There are so many great things about raising kids in New York City! For one thing, literally anything (diapers, Thai food, dry cleaning) can be delivered to you at any time of day here. What I like most, though, is that my kids are growing up in such a diverse place. You walk down the street and hear multiple languages and see people from all walks of life doing all kinds of things: visiting museums, eating dim sum, going to synagogue. Our friends, too, have such varied careers – publishing, the arts, finance, education, media. I like to think that my kids will grow up feeling like anything is possible. My kids are Irish-Cuban-Jewish mutts, so diversity is something we really try to embrace and celebrate in our house.
5. As a writer, where is your favorite place to write?
Somewhere my children aren’t. I mostly go to the library down the street, where small people aren’t asking me for snacks every five minutes and there isn’t a pile of laundry calling my name.
6. Name 3 blissful things that you can’t live without?
Besides my family? Running, coffee and Central Park.
7. What is the first thing you do when you complete a book?
I get in bed with a glass of wine and a book (not my own). 😉
8. What was the last book that you read?
Camille Pagan’s LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES.
9. While on tour what is a must-have beauty product in your make-up bag?
Under-eye concealer! I have one from NARS that almost makes me look well-rested.
10. Are you looking forward to any books that are coming out in 2016?
I feel like I say this every year, but what an amazing year for books! I can’t wait to read Marie Semple’s TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT and Ann Leary’s THE CHILDREN. And anyone who hasn’t read LILY & THE OCTOPUS by Steven Rowley must do so immediately.