Interview with Jessica Strawser, Author of Almost Missed You
We’re talking today with Jessica Strawser, author of Almost Missed You, which debuts today, March 28, 2017!
Please describe what the story is about.
Everyone agrees that Violet and Finn are the perfect couple, and everything about their story seems meant to be—until they take their first family vacation and Finn vanishes with their three-year-old, Bear, leaving Violet blindsided and heartbroken. When he shows up at the doorstep of a mutual friend and blackmails her into hiding them from the authorities, we learn how far back their most damaging secrets go, and question whether the stories we tell ourselves are ever really the whole truth.
Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.
“The not knowing why Finn had done this or where he had gone was enough to make Violet feel as if she might be on the verge of something essential coming loose in her mind. And of course she couldn’t let that happen. Bear would need her. Bear did need her. She knew it as sure as she knew that her husband was not the man she’d thought he was at all.”
What do you want people to know about your book?
Just as central to the book as the plot are its themes: Is there such a thing as fate—and do the perfect matches so many of us spend our lives looking for really exist? Or are some connections better off missed, some secrets better off kept?
What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?
I learned that it really is true that no writing, even so-called “unsuccessful” or “failed” writing, is wasted effort. I’d written an earlier novel that attracted an agent but never found a home with a publisher. In the long months of waiting and accumulating slow feedback, I did a lot of thinking about what I might do differently next time. In writing this novel—which has little in common with that first unsold one—I discovered my compass had become steadier; my focus had become sharper.
What was your timeline from drafting to publication?
I wrote the book fairly quickly, between August 2014 and March 2015, signed with a new agent who loved the project in September 2015; she sold it in a preempt two weeks later, and it will be published in March 2017.
What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?
I find the best writing to be a bit like putting together a puzzle—especially with my approach, which involves either no outline at all or a very loose one. My favorite moments are when a piece I’ve been looking for falls into place and I can suddenly see what the picture is going to look like when it’s done.
Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?
I have always been fascinated by questions of fate and destiny, particularly where romantic relationships are concerned—not just “the one,” but “the one that got away.” Not just “what’s meant to be,” but “what might have been.”
When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?
Inconveniently, when in the midst of something more mundane—showering, pushing the stroller around the block, driving to work, riding along the bike trail. I know I’m far from alone in this, so there must really be some magic to it.
Share something people may be surprised to know about you?
Through a lot of high school I seriously contemplated attending college to become a marine biologist. Discovering my weak stomach for dissection and wavy boat rides (not at the same time) helped to sway me back toward what had been my first love all along.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Always stop a writing session when you know what comes next, so you have direction and purpose the next time you sit down at the keyboard, and can jump right in.
Another stand-alone book club novel, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in spring 2018.
Jessica Strawser – ALMOST MISSED YOU
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.
Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, ALMOST MISSED YOU is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.