What if you lost your best friend, left your home town and basically disconnected from those you loved in hopes of healing a wound that seems like it will never heal?
And then you went back…
That’s what Left to Chance: A Novel, by Amy Sue Nathan, is about and I’m thrilled to be interviewing Amy today about her book and her writing process!
I hope you enjoy my chat with Amy!
Hi Amy! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today!
I really enjoyed Left To Chance! I would love to hear how this story began for you.
I should probably start off by saying I’ve been lucky enough to have the same best friend since I was 16 (a long time ago). One year she had a health scare—and she was fine, and is fine—but the (albeit selfish) idea that I wouldn’t have her anymore if something had happened, really shook me. When I got the call that she was fine, Teddi’s story came to me. I knew I had to write about how she reacted when she lost her lifetime best friend.
You did an amazing job covering so many of the nuances of how relationships change after time has passed and things are not always as they seem. I could list a handful of scenes that are perfect examples – but I’ll stop myself to avoid spoilers! 🙂 What do you think is the biggest lesson Teddi learns in Left to Chance?
Gosh, I hope she learned not to run away, or not to run for so long. She starts off well-intentioned but it kind of gets out of hand, wouldn’t you say?
As much as I enjoyed Teddi and Shayna, my favorite character was Teddi’s friend Josie. She seemed to be the calm among the chaos that was going on with Teddi. Was there a favorite character for you to write in the book? Is there one you’d love to learn more about?
I feel as if I know everything about all the characters, or at least what’s important for the story! My characters exist within the realm of the book I create, and I don’t really think about them or wonder about them once I’m finished with a book. I pour so much into each one, I think they drain me of any ongoing interest! I’d say one of my favorite to write in this novel was Cousin Maggie. She was a real tie to Teddi’s past and maybe a peek into a potential future if she didn’t knock down her defenses!
The candle we collaborated on, Friends Forever, is inspired by a certain aspect in the story – a genuinely heartbreaking scene unfolds when Teddi finally opens up her heart. It all starts with a single stone. Did you have an inspiration for this part of the story?
How disappointing it is to say no! It’s a Jewish custom to lay stones at a gravesite as a marker for having been there—never flowers. I knew that stones were a part of the story early on. You might remember that Teddi is an excellent stone-skipper as well, so the stones have a fun meaning to her as well.
Since I liked Left to Chance, I had to go look into your other books. I found that both The Good Neighbor and The Glass Wives look just as awesome as Left to Chance. As I read the summaries for each I thought, “Amy asks these tough questions like: What would happen if you had to live with your dead ex-husbands wife? or What would happen if you lied about having a boyfriend and got caught?” And these are things I want to see play out! Just not in my own life – hahaha! Do these types of questions come up as you brainstorm ideas for a book?
The “what if” is always key to imagining a new story, you’re right! If there’s no question to answer, there’s no story to tell.
My questions come after the story idea, because I’m a little backwards. J For example, with Left to Chance, I knew that the story was about Teddi and Celia and that Celia died (that’s not a spoiler!). I knew Teddi handled it in an unconventional way, and that she had good reasons. Then I had to backtrack and decide what the questions were. For me, they ended up as, how does someone feel when they’re NOT family and they lose someone important? Teddi grapples with not being as important as Celia’s family. I also asked myself how someone would go about honoring a best friend even if it mean hurting other people. Lots of questions, and hopefully, lots of answers within the story.
I don’t really brainstorm initial story ideas for novels. They pop into my head and force me to listen. The brainstorming comes in when I have to figure out if it’s a viable story to tell.
Let’s talk a little about you! I was reading your About page and saw that you started out blogging back in 2006. Can you share with us how you started and how blogging became writing novels?
I started “slice of life” blogging as a way to get back into writing after a stay-home-mom hiatus from all things creative (unless you mean Play Doh). It was still early in blogging and it was anonymous because I was embarrassed to admit I was a blogger (and I wrote a novel about an anonymous blogger in The Good Neighbor)! Blogging led to writing slice-of-life columns for the Chicago Tribune, which led to writing more essays, which led to a draft of a memoir which I ditched to write fiction, because I was not about to air all my laundry in the pages of a book. I decided to write fictional dirty laundry for fictional people instead!
Amy, it was such a pleasure talking with you today! It was so great to work with you on Friends Forever and reading your wonderful book!
Do you want to connect your book club with Amy? Here’s the word straight from Amy:
Live within 30 minutes of Jenkintown, PA? I’ll come to your book club! Live farther away? Skype me in! Just email me with the subject line: Bookclub.
is inspired by
by Amy Sue Nathan.
the calming scents of cool stones, sea spray, citrus, sandalwood and moss
What I loved about Left to Chance:
Left to Chance is one of those books that pulls at your heart strings. You feel for all involved and what they are going through. Amy does an amazing job creating a world in Chance, Ohio in which relationships are tested and you see that not everything is as it seems. I felt like I was right there in the story experiencing things along with the main character, Teddi. This is an excellent book club book!- Nalana @ Book Scents