If you are a fan of modern fiction, it’s likely you’ve heard of novels written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her books have been featured as “Best Books of Summer” by People, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Popsugar, and Buzzfeed and have been listed as New York Times Bestsellers.
Most recently, Taylor’s newest novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, was nominated for a Goodreads Award for Historical Fiction and is currently in the running for “Book of the Year” or “The Lolly Award” over at Book of the Month Club. As a huge fan of Taylor and every single one of her books I have read, I wanted to learn a little bit more from her about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and her writing process and goals in general when it came to this book. Her answers, as expected, were absolute perfection and I am so excited to share this interview with you. Thank you, Taylor, for being so kind and congratulations on your nominations!
Evelyn is the epitome of a Hollywood starlet. From her looks, to her talent, to the way the public reacts to her, it’s clear she was made for fame! However, the thing that inspired me the most about Evelyn was her strong, confident, and do-what-it-takes-to-get-what-I-want attitude. How important is it to you to create characters like Evelyn who are strong and powerful women? What message do you hope that sends to your readers?
Taylor: I think it is easier to understand ourselves when we have outside examples that resonate. That’s why representing various types of women, different types of marriages, different types of value systems, is important to me in my work. My hope is that Evelyn represents a different way to be – for better or worse. I’m not advocating that people do what Evelyn does. But I am advocating that women believe that their desires are paramount the way Evelyn does. Ambition, passion, confidence, relentlessness, power, even selfishness — these are traits I wanted to see more of in female characters so I wrote a woman with them.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was nominated for a Goodreads Award for Historical Fiction and is currently in the running for the “Book of the Year” aka the “Lolly” over at Book of the Month Club. What are you the most proud of, besides award nominations, when it comes to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? Did you have any “writing goals” you accomplished in writing this book?
Taylor: My hope with this book is that it would inspire intense reactions. I very much wanted Evelyn to be a character that people felt strongly about even when they felt conflicted about her. This book does seem to have made people think about their preconceived notions about some aspects of feminity and sexuality — and I know it has brought comfort to people fighting some of the same fights that Evelyn and Monique face. That was always my goal, is always my goal with every book.
Throughout the novel, Evelyn is being interviewed by an author. This author turns out to be the person who publishes the one and only book that tells the true story of Evelyn’s life. If you could choose one person whose life you would want to write the book for, who would you choose and why? Conversely, which author would you like to have write the story of your life?
Taylor: I would love to know the whole truth behind the life of Lucille Ball. She has long been a hero of mine. As a child, I worshipped her talent and when I became an adult, I realized the depths of her business acumen and her accomplishments as a producer and head of a studio. I would have been honored to have been the one to tell her story.
As for my own, that is a tough question. So many of my favorite authors come to mind but it is hard to know who, exactly, I want to be filtered through. My best guess would be Cheryl Strayed. I suspect she would see things in me and my life that I have yet to discover for myself.
As a reader of almost every single one of your books (reading Maybe in Another Life later this month and completing the list!), I truly appreciate your work and recommend your novels to friends and family constantly. If someone were a “first time” Taylor Jenkins Reid reader, which book would you want them to read first and why?
Taylor: I think it depends on what they are looking for! But maybe One True Loves is a good place to start. It has both the romantic contemporary quality I had been writing up until Evelyn Hugo but also hints at some of the more daring women to come in my work.
This is a random but fun question: What is your Hogwarts House?
Taylor: I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read or seen any of the Harry Potter stories. I realize this is heresy. If it makes it any easier to bear, I have long planned on reading them all with my daughter once she is old enough. That being said, I took a sorting quiz to answer this question and after doing a very small amount of research, it seems to be pretty accurate. I’m in Hufflepuff! Which I’m happy about because I didn’t want to claim to be Gryffindor — that seems like saying you’re a Carrie when asked if you’re a Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte.
If you haven’t read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo yet, make sure you put it on your TBR as soon as possible. All of her books are phenomenal, but this one is by far my favorite of hers. It’s so unique, daring, and inspiring.
Thank you again to Taylor for answering my questions and thanks to all of you for reading!
*Taylor Jenkins Reid image provided by taylorjenkinsreid.com