Today I am hosting Lisa Jewell, author of After The Party, for an interview. Enjoy!
What character "spoke" to you first before writing this book?
Jem, definitely. I’d promised my publishers a sequel to Ralph's Party, my first novel and then I wondered how on earth I was going to pick up on the lives of seven people who'd coincidentally lived in separate apartments in the same building in 1996 without it being really contrived and silly. But at the same time I knew I wanted to write about the experiences I’d had since giving birth to my second child, the huge changes that had come about in my relationship and I suddenly realised that I could use Jem to tell that story. I decided to focus then just on her and Ralph and use the other characters from the original in a very subsidiary way.
What is the message you want readers to get out of After the Party?
I guess it’s that not everyone gets to be crazy in love, and that when that wanes over time, as it must do, especially when there are children involved, you have to use the history of what brought you together as a foundation for a normal life. No longer being ‘in love’ with your partner is not a big tragedy, it’s natural.
What genre of books do you love to read?
I'm a sucker for the book that everyone else is reading. The book of the moment. I wolfed down the Help, Room, One Day, they were all hugely hyped but all of them lived up to it. I like a book that is non- genre, that is populist, but a little bit literary, that is page-turn-y and well-crafted.
What is your writing space like?
A disgrace. I have a beautiful repro Art Deco desk made to order by a carpenter that my father in law uses that sits in the corner of my own boudoir, a beautiful airy room at the top of the house with tall windows and hummingbird wallpaper, Japanese lanterns and peppermint walls and it is an absolute trip. I am naturally messy, but try my hardest to keep my house looking nice. By the time I’ve managed to get the rest of the house tidy I’ve kind of run out of steam when I get to my own room.
Who is your favorite newer writer?
I really am a one-book-at-a-time kind of reader. I don’t tend to have favourite writers. I do like Maggie O’Farrell and Nick Hornby but I don’t buy their books religiously. The best book by a new writer that I have read recently was Sister by Rosamund Lupton and I have her second novel, Afterwards, lined up on my kindle for my holidays.
Did you take any inspiration from your own life for the characters/setting of After the Party?
Yes, loads. The romance between Ralph and Jem in my first novel was very much based on my romance with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, in poetic rather than literal terms (i.e.; my husband is a software engineer and not an artist!), so it stood to reason that when I revisited them eleven years later I would reflect the changes in my own relationship in theirs. Their story is not my story, and Ralph and Jem are not my husband and I, but they do share our concerns, our problems and our resentments.
Publisher: Atria (August 16, 2011)
Paperback: 480 Pages
Lisa Jewell's Website
From Goodreads. Eleven years ago, Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary fell deeply in love. They thought it would be forever, that they’d found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, and an apartment became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple anymore. But through it all, Jem and Ralph still loved each other. Of course they did.
Now Jem is back at work part-time as a talent agent. Ralph, a successful painter, is struggling to come up with new, hopefully groundbreaking, work for his upcoming show. But the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart And in the chaos of family life, Jem feels like she’s losing herself, while Ralph, stuck on the sidelines, feels like he’s lost his muse altogether. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted—but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after…