We Talk to Author Taylor Jenkins Reid on Living Her Best Life, Felicity and Her Newest Book
Author Taylor Jenkins Reid is giving us serious #lifegoals. On top of being an incredibly popular bestselling author, her first book, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned for a film, with Dakota Johnson set to star. She co-wrote the Hulu series Resident Advisors, which was produced by Elizabeth Banks. And now she’s just released her fourth novel, One True Loves, about a woman who has to choose between two loves — “the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.” We think it might be your new fave beach read in these last weeks of summer!
We love Taylor because she writes about very real women and their issues of lost and new love, the struggle of making relationships not suck and even questions of fate and destiny. You know… just the small stuff ;) Just before she gave birth to her newborn daughter Lilah a while back, she graciously sat down and answered some of our questions about books (other than her own), her inspirations (including Felicity), how her new motherhood may change her writing and so much more.
B+C: What is the last book you binge-read?
TJR: I just finished Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, which is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It is great and I flew through it. I once stayed up until four in the morning reading Sittenfeld’s American Wife, so it’s not all that surprising that I was addicted to her newest one too.
B+C: Speaking of binging, how did binge-watching Felicity inspire OTL?
TJR: I watched the entire run of Felicity as I was writing One True Loves, specifically because I think “Ben or Noel” is the love triangle of my generation. I wanted to get some insight into how that show did such a good job of making the viewer torn between two men without losing sight of the fact that it was a story about Felicity, first and foremost.
B+C: Did any movies inspire the book?
TJR: It can’t be denied that Castaway played a big part. You can’t write about someone being stranded on an island without using Tom Hanks as a jumping off point. But I was much more interested in what it felt like to be Helen Hunt. That’s how I pitched the book to my editor before I even started writing. I said, “Castaway from Helen Hunt’s point of view.” We so often tell stories about the men that go out and have these wild adventures and I wanted to tell the story of what it is like for the people left behind. That’s an adventure too.
B+C: How has meeting Jennifer Anniston affected you?
TJR: I was so obsessed with Friends — and specifically Jennifer Aniston — as a teenager that when I actually met her, in my early twenties, I knew I had to tell my friends about it. Rather than call them all individually, I wrote a story about the day and sent it out. It was the first piece of creative writing I’d ever done, and I was surprised how much fun it was — and how many of my friends told me they actually enjoyed reading it. That was, quite literally, the beginning of my writing career. That was the seed that started the whole thing.
B+C: How do you incorporate books into your home decor? Would people be able to tell you’re an author just by walking into your home?
TJR: The first thing you see when you walk into my house is my bookshelf. And it’s coordinated in a way that makes perfect sense to me, but I’m sure appears entirely random to anyone that looks at it. I have sections like, “Authors I love as writers and people,” or “Hardcovers with gorgeous pastel spines.”And then there is the cookbook section, which is ruled by martial law. I have a full-on cookbook addiction. So many cookbooks, so few recipes I’ve actually attempted.
B+C: Which book could you read every summer?
TJR: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. There is nothing I love more than devouring a book in a day, and The Lover’s Dictionary manages to pull such intense emotions out of you in such a short span of time that it feels effortless but hugely satisfying. The perfect summer read.
B+C: All your stories have a love theme but always with a different twist. What inspired you to write this story?
TJR: I wanted to tell a story about an impossible decision. And I also wanted to delve into the idea of being replaced. Can you replace someone you love? How does it feel to be replaced? What are the hard truths that we don’t often face? From there, the story started to snowball, until I understood that it should be about a woman choosing between two different sides of herself. One True Loves is a love triangle but it’s also a story about self-actualization. That’s what made it so much fun to write.
B+C: Tell us, is there such a thing as ONE true love or could there be more than one?
TJR: I personally don’t believe in soul mates. So if there isn’t a pre-ordained person for you, I’m not sure there can be only one person on the planet that is right for you. I’m much more interested in thinking of it as, “Who are your great loves?” And I don’t think it always has to be romantic. I think those people can include current partners, past partners, best friends, family members, children, pets, etc.
B+C: Do you think your stories will change with a baby in the mix?
TJR: I’ve written four books that feel unique to me but all within the same vein. And I started, last year, asking myself some challenging questions about how I see my work growing. Adding to that the fact that I’m becoming a mother, I think readers can expect new stuff from me that grows in scope as I grow as a person and a writer. I’m going to be shaking things up a bit!
B+C: Lisa Frank is coming back, Gilmore Girls is coming back… what’s one iconic trend you’d like to see make a comeback?
TJR: I would really like it if NBC could pull off another Must See TV Thursday night lineup. Those were the days! I want four great comedies in a row, every week.
B+C: How much of your own love story makes it into your books?
TJR: Somehow the answer is “some and almost none.” There is virtually nothing that has ever truly happened to me that I’ve put in a book. But all I know about love is based on what I’ve experienced and what I believe. So in some ways, the way I portray good marriages is what I aim for in my marriage. The way I portray unhealthy relationships is what I’m afraid of in my own relationships, etc. So emotionally, there’s a lot of overlap. But literally? Pretty close to zero.
B+C: There’s a lot of butter talk on Facebook in regard to OTL… did you think it’d be one of the favorite scenes in the book?
TJR: Ha! I had no idea! I was just writing about two people moving in together. Admittedly, I, like Sam, am obsessed with French butter dishes and Kerrygold butter. So I’m thrilled that people like the scene, because it gives me even more opportunities to tell people to buy a French butter dish. If you value perfectly buttered toast, you need a French butter dish.
B+C: OTL is being called a favorite beach read all over the place… what makes the perfect beach read for you?
TJR: I like a book that starts effortlessly, one that draws you in quickly. And it’s important that it keeps your attention. If you put the book down to go swim, you should be excited to get out of the water so you can keep reading. And double points if you’re so into reading that you really want your friend to stop interrupting you. That’s always been the fun of engaging with a story for me. You think about it when you’re not reading it and you can’t wait to get back to it. It has always been a dream of mine to create that excitement for other people.
B+C: Favorite destination for summer reading — backyard or beachside?
TJR: Oh, beachside! No contest! If there’s no sand in the spine of your books, are you living your best life?
B+C: Looking back over your four books, do you ever wish you’d ended them differently?
TJR: Once I’ve finished a book, I make my peace with it. I think my brain protects me from regretting anything in a book by rerouting me every time I begin to think about it. Sort of a, “No, no, don’t look over there!” kind of a self-preservation. I’m proud of the books I’ve written. They represent what I thought about the world as I wrote them. Some readers have disagreed with the endings almost every time, but rarely is there a consensus. So I think that’s a good sign. If people are talking and everyone’s saying something different, that’s a great conversation. And the only thing that holds a candle to a good story is a heated debate.
B+C: What’s next?
TJR: Next up is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo — about a reclusive movie star and her juiciest secrets — out next summer. I’m finishing it up now and preparing to have a baby. I’m sure I’ll be hibernating for a while, but when I pop back up, have no doubt, there will be another book to read!
What’s your favorite TJR read? And are you excited for One True Loves? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!