From Rainy London....The Opposite of Love
Today, I have Julie Buxbaum, author of the new novel, "The Opposite of Love." Come and read how this Harvard Law School grad got into writing fiction, found her publisher and ended up in London. Click on comments and ask a writing related question before 5 p.m. CST today and if I randomly draw your question, you can win a good read in the Summer Great Book Giveaway - which, like the summer, is fading fast.
Tell us about yourself.
It's funny, I always seem to have the most trouble with this question. Let's see--I'm thirty years old, soon to be thirty one, which amazes me, if only because it feels like my last birthday was just yesterday. This year, which was a big one for me--my book came out, I got married--has flown by a little too fast for my comfort. I currently live in Los Angeles, but will be moving to London this summer. And I am a recovering lawyer, turned novelist, and couldn't be happier about the career switch.
Tell us about your book, "The Opposite of Love."
THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE is about the complexities of love and loss, how we find personal fulfillment, and what happens when we delay grief. The story is told from the perspective of Emily Haxby, who is dealing with a romantic crisis and a familial one, as she is finally dealing with the death of her mother fifteen years after the fact. She has just broken up with her boyfriend, Andrew, just as he's about to propose, and her beloved grandfather is beginning a descent into dementia. At the same time, she is a lawyer at a large law firm, and is forced to work on a morally reprehensible toxic tort case for a boss who can't keep his hands to himself. The book follows her emotional journey as she finds the courage to take back control of all aspects of her life, and face the fears that have long haunted her.
Wow. You have an impressive resume, Harvard Law School, big law firms in NYC and L.A. Many writers leave other lives to follow their dream of being a full time writer (I did). Do you feel like you wasted that part of your life, or did it help prepare you somehow for your life as a writer? And if so, how?
Though it would have been nice to have started my writing life earlier, if only because I wish I had taken the opportunity to study literature and literary theory in college, I can't say I regret my decision to go to law school or even to become a lawyer. My three years at Harvard were probably the most intellectually rigorous of my life, and I enjoyed them immensely. And my years as a lawyer not only helped me gather material for my novel, but also taught me to appreciate my new life as novelist. I am not sure I would have understood, had I not spent that time, what a blessing it is to have a career that I enjoy and find stimulating and fulfilling.
How did you develop the story for "The Opposite of Love."
With THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, I worked backwards. I started thematically, because I knew I wanted to explore the consequences of delaying grief. From this idea sprung my main character Emily Haxby; once I fully understood her strengths, faults, motivations, etc., once I could picture her as a living, breathing person in the world, the plot unfolded from there.
Did you take any classes to learn how to develop plot, dialogue, etc?I took a couple of novel writing classes at UCLA Extension at night, which were really helpful.
What was most helpful in assisting you to learn about the writing process?
I think the most helpful thing was having been a voracious reader my whole life. I find reading critically and widely and constantly, more than anything else, is a prerequisite to becoming a writer. I believe that's the best way to internalize the art and the craft of the novel form.
You just left your life as an attorney two years ago, did you work on the book before quitting law?Not really. I had started to think about my main character just before I quit, but I didn't actually start any real work on the book until afterwards.
How did you find your agent/publisher?
All I can say is that I had amazing amounts of luck. I quit my job as a lawyer in January of 2006 to write. After working for about eight months full time on THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, and after generating many, many drafts, I felt it was ready to be sent out. About two weeks later, I landed an agent, and less than a month after that my agent sold the book to Dial Press (my publisher.) I still can't quite believe how everything fell into place so quickly, and I feel extraordinarily lucky considering there are thousands of talented novelists out there who never get to see their work published.
What's next for you?
I am currently hard at work on my second novel, which has been a lot of fun. And I'm getting ready for the big transatlantic move. I definitely need to buy myself an umbrella.
And now, Julie is awaiting your questions!