The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Laura Dave: Why I Write

April 24, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Last May, Laura Dave’s (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) third novel The First Husband (see presentation/review) was published and described as: “A fresh, funny take on the search for a soulmate.” —People.

It’s also brilliant, witty, and poignant yet the best news about the novel is that today it comes out as a paperback! Both the content and the flow of Laura’s writing are so natural that one might stop occasionally and wonder how does she capture that effortless magic? In today’s guest post, the author describes the simple (and successful) reason for why she writes.]

Why I Write

I write because I love to read.

Can it be that simple? Maybe yes, and maybe no. In thinking about the reasons I write, there are so many answers that immediately came to mind. Writing helps me answer questions, it is my primary way of reaching new understandings, it provides me a sense of joy, and it has (long before I did it professionally) helped me figure out my place in the world.

All of those answers are true. But the most true answer is the first one. I write because I love to read. I have loved to read since I was too young to even know what I was reading. For me, writing is the natural extension of reading. It is the other side of the same conversation about what makes our narratives feel special—the unique ways we experience joy, work through relationships and figure out what we want our lives to be. Writing is another way to experience stories, another way to share them.

While working on my novel The First Husband, I often returned to the notebook I’ve kept since I was in High School—which is really a testament to my love of reading. It is a notebook of quotes and ideas from things I’ve read that touched me. Things that I didn’t want to forget. Ideas that came from a variety of reading sources: favorite novels and biographies and memoirs and plays and poetry collections. Bad magazines and beautiful story collections. All the words that stuck with me, like only music or words can.

In thinking about why I write, I opened it again to look through it. One of my favorite quotes (a very apropos one!) popping out at me immediately.

“Keep in mind that the only person to write for is yourself. Tell the story you most desperately want to read.” – Susan Isaacs

And as I start looking through some of the others—Ernest Hemmingway’s advice on writing (“write one true sentence”); Toni Morrison’s thoughts on love (“He can’t value you more than you value yourself”); W.S. Merwin’s thoughts on dreams (“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.”)—I get that familiar desire to sit down and start telling a new story. Or get back to figuring out an old one.

Reading does that. Which is why, when I’m stuck, when I don’t know how to finish a sentence or a chapter or how to begin one, I’ll throw my books down from the bookshelf and sit on the carpet with ten books and have a little reading party. Just to remind myself that reading and writing is a messy, wonderful business.

And that I write because it is.

For more from Laura Dave, please follow her on Twitter, become a friend of on Facebook and enjoy The First Husband available in paperback today!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

Laura Dave and The First Husband

May 09, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

With witty, wise, storytelling regarding the complexities of modern love — complemented by her elegantly honest prose –, Laura Dave (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) offfers readers her third novel, The First Husband, available Thursday, May 12, 2011.

How good is it really? In its May 2011 issue, Marie Claire designated The First Husband as a “NEED TO READ” decadent novel noting: “What distinguishes Dave from her peers are her keen observations about the difficulty of creating lasting love in a freedom-obsesses society, and her willingness to follow her characters into the grayest areas of their emotional lives…”

The author accomplishes just that by first introducing Annie Adams, a thirtysomething travel columnist, who watches her five-year committed relationship dissolve within an hour. After five years with someone she loved and thought would be her life partner, what does Annie do? Well that was the question that inspired the novel — how do we not live our lives in reaction? Also how do we operate from a place of agency?

As for the title, Laura explains: “In today’s age, I feel like many of my friends have such serious relationships before marriage (decade long relationships) that in some ways this person they end up parting with is a first husband. I liked that the title could speak to that a bit.”

Indeed it does and the storyline evolved into the following synopsis:

A savvy, page-turning novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she’d marry.

Annie Adams is days away from her thirty-second birthday and thinks she has finally found some happiness. She visits the world’s most interesting places for her syndicated travel column and she’s happily cohabiting with her movie director boyfriend Nick in Los Angeles. But when Nick comes home from a meeting with his therapist (aka “futures counselor”) and announces that he’s taking a break from their relationship so he can pursue a woman from his past, the place Annie had come to call home is shattered. Reeling, Annie stumbles into her neighborhood bar and finds Griffin-a grounded, charming chef who seems to be everything Annie didn’t know she was looking for. Within three months, Griffin is Annie’s husband and Annie finds herself trying to restart her life in rural Massachusetts.

A wry observer of modern love, Laura Dave “steers clear of easy answers to explore the romantic choices we make” (USA Today). Her third novel is packed with humor, empathy, and psychological insight about the power of love and home.

After three months Annie is married and starting over in rural Massachusetts?! Granted, Griffin seems to be wonderful and his small town, though isolated, is quaint and charming, albeit a bit off the beaten path. But is Annie being impulsive or reactive to finding “a ready made life” there? Because the truth is that this world travel columnist has a lack of self-worth baggage that she’s been dragging around though her mother’s numerous marriages and divorces. In other words, Annie has never had the stability to prove to herself that she deserved stability. This is one of the major themes of the novel and it’s also an issue that Laura Dave shows a brilliant take on as she says:

“I think she was deeply scared to even hope for it or ask for it — because then she would have to acknowledge how much she had longed for it. Watching Annie start to trust herself and gain a sense of self-worth (and choose a man who honored who she truly was) was a great joy for me as a writer.”

Perhaps the simple fact that Annie realizes she enjoys being with someone completely different than she’s used to –even loves him enough to marry him — makes The First Husband both insightful, delightful, and fresh. And all that likely comes from the author’s writing process. Because, when writing, Laura doesn’t know what’s going to happen….at times. Although she doesn’t follow a major outline, there are mental ideas as to where her characters are headed. However how they get there is both poignant and fun, creating a naturally human flawed storyline.

Without giving away *spoilers*, The Divining Wand asked the writer if she knew when, where, and how Annie would meet Griffin? And Laura admitted:

“I knew Annie was going to meet someone that night, and at some point I decided certain things about Griffin. But the joy for me is letting the characters talk to each other and say crazy things and be surprised myself as that meeting transpires on the page. When I feel surprised myself, I know my readers will feel that surprise too.”

Not only will there be that feeling of surprise, there will be “Aha,” and even “too close for comfort” feelings as well. For Laura Dave’s goal is to present her best possible writing by putting it first, the story second. Believing that good writing is rewriting, after the first draft, she often writes a dozen more. It’s in these drafts that the author finds what puzzle pieces are missing, what changes are needed, and what interesting bits of the story deserve more attention.

During the past decade, hundreds of novels have been written about twenty/thirtysomething women searching for happiness in quest of “Mr. Right.” TRUTH: The First Husband is not one of those novels. Instead it’s a tale of a thirtysomething woman searching for love within herself and the happiness that comes from learning where she can grow and belong. Modern love may throw in complications but it remains a universal story of self-acceptance. Which is why The First Husbandis a stunning, thoughtful, hopeful read for all ages because loving oneself is a lifelong journey. Enjoy!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Laura Dave on REBOOTED:
How My Worst Writing Moment Became My Best

May 03, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[A published author is of often defined as a writer who never gave up. In today’s guest post, Laura Dave (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America, and The First Husband coming May 12, 2011) shares an experience that tested and challenged her “author dream.”]

How My Worst Writing Moment Became My Best

Right before my twenty-sixth birthday, I moved to New York City. I’d been living in small towns, for the last several years, working tirelessly on my first novel. I was living on fellowship funds, getting up at 4:30 AM to write, and working a variety of odd jobs. They were challenging years. But I was hopeful that they’d paid off: I was heading to New York with two hundred pages of a book.

But, less than a week after I arrived in Manhattan, I spilled water on my computer and lost the entire thing. All two hundred pages.


I spilled one glass of ice water, and the entirety of my work—all of those years worth of struggle and hope—seemed to disappear. I was devastated. I remember lying on the floor of my childhood bedroom, my father standing in the doorway, asking me what I was planning to do next. And I remember my answer.

“Well, I am going to start again,” I said.

The words were out of my mouth before I even thought about them. Much to my surprise, I knew, immediately, that they were the truth. There would be no taking this accident as a sign I was meant to do something else. (Except perhaps learn how to utilize a back-up system.) I would lie on the floor for a few more hours, feeling sorry for myself. Then I would pick myself up and get back to work.

As crazy as it may sound, I often look back at that moment with gratitude. Because it was in that moment that I became a writer. Whatever pitfalls I experience along the way now—whatever bad days make me want to put the pen down—I have lost fear that I will give up on my work. If I didn’t quit then, in the face of such loss, I figure I have no excuse to give up in the future.

But just in case: in my new home in Los Angeles, I have two back-up systems saving every word.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Therese Fowler and Exposure. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

The Revealing of Laura Dave

April 27, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Laura Dave, highly acclaimed for her first two novels [with the most intriguing titles] — The Divorce Party and London Is the Best City in America –, offers readers her latest book, The First Husband in bookstores on May 12, 2011.

In a one sentence synopsis, The First Husband is described as: A savvy, page-turning novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she’d marry.

And the novel has garnered this early praise:

“Dave presents an inspiring account of a woman who ceases her external travels to become her own compass. I have more insight into my own life after reading this book, and I thank Laura Dave for that gift.”—Connie Kalter, Publishers Weekly

“Positively shines with wisdom and intelligence. What truly sets Dave apart is her ability to convey the contradictions and imperfections, the inherent impossibility of true love, and yet somehow still make you believe in it.”
Jonathan Tropper, New York Times Bestselling author of This is Where I Leave You

“In an honest and heart-felt tale, Laura Dave masterfully explores the big questions: should you have said yes? Waited? Answered that call you ignored? Filled with sparkling wit and pithy observation, The First Husband is everything I love about contemporary women’s fiction.”
Jen Lancaster, New York Times Bestselling author of Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy

“For anyone who wonders if she has found ‘the one’, The First Husband is a wonderfully witty novel about love and loss, and about how to find a happy home. I loved every moment, every page, and you will too.”
Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times Bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of my Life

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The First Husband for Monday, May 9, 2011 however, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Laura Dave is the author of the novels The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America. She is also a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. Her first novel was optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon and her second novel was optioned for film by Jennifer Aniston. A New York native, she now lives in Los Angeles.

And now it’s time to get to know Laura, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Happy, busy, blessedly full of family and friends

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Just breathe!

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: My family being happy and healthy.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: My mother is southern, and scared me away from ever answering that question. Don’t test the universe!

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Exactly where I am. Truly.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Such a good question, and one I can best answer by altering it a bit. A person I most admire? Jane Austen.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My mother.

Q; What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “Oh no!”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d love to be able to dance. I mean really, really dance.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I take care of the people I love, and I do my best to live a life I love.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I worry. (And when I’m not worrying, I worry about that.)

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I am very loving.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: No regrets. Not allowed.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’m working on that answer being me. It’s still a work in progress though.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’m pretty much always wearing a gray sweater. I rotate among five or six of them—one more cozy and soft than the next. I am getting married in the fall, and I’m fairly certain one of them will make an appearance at the wedding.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Clarissa Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Whoever the ‘bad guy’ is that I’m currently writing about. And finding a way to make him good.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Funny enough, I used to write freelance pieces for ESPN the Magazine. And I got to meet many amazing athletes who I admire.

Nowadays, I’d like to meet the starting lineup on the Philadelphia Phillies. And tell them to “please win!” so my house stays peaceful!

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Mean people.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Cooking. Or spending the morning at the farmer’s market, picking out what I’m cooking that night.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Being a novelist still feels like a great fantasy to me!

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Humor, Goodness, openness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Salad. I know that’s the world’s most boring answer, but I love a salad! But before I seem too good, cheese would be a very close second.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: I love music so much, it’s hard to pick just 5. But I made a playlist for The New York Times when The Divorce Party came out.

That’s a good place to start!

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Slouching Toward Bethlehem, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Feast of Love, and whatever I’m just starting for the first time.

Multi-talented, unique, and engaging, Laura Dave is a terrific author to follow on Twitter and become a friend of on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Sarah Jio and The Violets of March. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.