Abby Fabiaschi discusses her new women’s fiction novel, I Liked My Life, which just came out on January 31!
Please describe what the book is about.
Maddy, a seemingly happy stay-at-home mother, commits suicide, leaving her husband and teenage daughter heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, they’re forced to come to terms with unsettling truths. Maddy, however, isn’t done with them. Watching from beyond, she tries to find her perfect replacement. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?
Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.
Depression never had a grip on me, and alcohol was like a fun cousin I visited once in awhile but never planned a trip around. That its tentacles are often invisible until it’s too late never crossed my mind.
She finds his audacity comical in that delirious way only very sad things can be to very tired people.
What do you want people to know about your book?
It’s funny! And hopeful! I know, I know, that’s hard to conclude from the description, but I swear it’s true. The trade reviews back me up on that…
What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?
That, though years and years have passed, I still haven’t fully grieved the loss of my father and close friend. I no longer think that’s an attainable goal, but the writing itself was cathartic—a way to pass my burden onto unsuspecting characters.
What was your timeline from drafting to publication?
It took a decade, but I wasn’t writing during seven of those years.
What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?
The first draft! I don’t plot. I can’t—I get bored if I know what’s going to happen. So, my first draft, no matter how horrifying the writing is, I’m fully engaged, dying to find out what befalls the characters I’ve sent to sea.
Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?
When I was fifteen, I lost one of my closest friends in a tragic car accident. Introducing guilt and grief to my already raging teenage hormones and fierce desire for independence was a hugely defining moment in my life. I LIKED MY LIFE started with a desire to explore mourning at that tender age.
When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?
While I cook. I’ve always loved to cook—it’s the one domestic inclination I had even before my children showed up in such a hurry, eleven months apart. After I started writing my aunt said, “I always knew you were a creative because you cook without a recipe.” I think combining ingredients in unexpected but worthwhile ways gets the right side of my brain working.
Share something people may be surprised to know about you?
Growing up, I was certain I’d never have children. I spent my twenties climbing the corporate ladder in high tech—stack ranking and politicking and working my ass off. It was my husband who softened me to the idea of “having it all.” It turned out, once motherhood cracked my heart open wider than I ever thought possible, my definition of “having it all” changed.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Omit needless words. It’s a pull from William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, but I originally happened across it in the book that convinced me to give this whole author thing a formal go: Stephen King’s On Writing.
My second novel, tentatively titled WHATEVER HAPPENED TO LUCY BISCARO?, should be out with St. Martin’s Press in the winter of 2018. It explores the polarizing hold that memories can have on us, and how every decision we make is layered with our past experiences.
“Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, this hard-to-put-down, engrossing debut will have readers wondering until the very end. It examines life and death, despair and faith, parenthood and marriage, the choices we make, and, most of all, love—making it a perfect choice for book clubs.”
—Library Journal, STARRED review