Things I Wish I Knew: Taylor Jenkins Reid, 4 Books Later

OneTrueLovesFinalFor the next instalment of “Things I Wish I Knew,” this author needs no introduction: Taylor Jenkins Reid. She is an author, essayist, and TV writer from Acton, Massachusetts. Her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned with Dakota Johnson attached to star. She is adapting her second book, After I Do, for Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family. Her most recent novel, Maybe In Another Life, has been featured in People, US Weekly, Cosmo, and more. One True Loves will be released in June. In addition to her novels, Taylor’s essays have appeared in the Los Angeles TimesThe Huffington Post, xoJane, and a number of other blogs. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit.

You are now 4 books into your career! If you had some advice for your debut author self, what would it be?

I’d probably warn myself to be patient. That first book felt like the only book for so long — and now I’m working on my fifth. I think I felt pressure back then to make my debut represent everything I wanted to say. But most people, when writing a debut, are trying to start a life-long career. Think of your debut as the first of many, not your only shot at the plate. 

What do you see as the author’s role on social media platforms?

It’s about showing readers who you are. I know when I fall in love with a book, or a TV show, or a movie, I start Googling everyone involved after I’m done in the hopes of delaying the end as long as possible. Finding the authors of the books that spoke to you, learning who they are, can be an extension of the reading experience. I’m not a commodity but if I was, I’d like to think of myself as the DVD special features of my own work. 

Can you talk about how you draft and what your schedule looks like from research to finished manuscript?

Ha! I swear, I think I have a plan all sorted out with each book and then it never goes the way I think it will. For the most part, I start with a beginning and an ending in mind and I start writing. I try to write between 3-5k a day. That’s a high word count and I can stick to it because during my first draft stages, I do absolutely nothing else. I don’t have much of a life for those 4-6 weeks. 

Once the first draft is done, I let it sit on my computer untouched for as long as I can, schedule-wise. And then I come back to it, read it, make a list of everything that isn’t working, and get started editing — again a certain amount of words per day. Hopefully, by the end of it, I have something that won’t embarrass me. (But that is not always the case…)

You’re published in 14 languages. What has it been like seeing the foreign editions of your work come in? What’s your favorite cover?

This is probably the most surreal of the book publishing experiences, mostly because I can’t read my own work! It’s been interesting to see what I can piece together and what I can’t. And it’s been very fun to learn how different countries market books. I think my favorite covers so far have been the Spanish editions. They are so bright and inviting! Italy also did a very cool “date with a book” campaign where Forever, Interrupted was sold in a gorgeous paper-bag-like sheath with a general, vague description of the emotional through-line of the book. I loved that.

What can readers expect from you next? 

Next up is One True Loves — out June 7th. It’s about a woman who marries her high school sweetheart only to have his plane go missing. Years later, after she has become engaged to someone else, he’s found alive, ready to come home to her. I like to think of it as Cast Away from Helen Hunt’s point of view. 

This book is a perfect example of a draft that did not go the way I scheduled. But it turned out to be one of my favorites — all the better for the time it took. 

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

10 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Knew: Taylor Jenkins Reid, 4 Books Later

  1. I would like to be published in Italy. I’ve been planning a leisurely vino and pasta tour, from the top of the boot to the bottom. Combining that with a book tour would be nice. I write exactly the same way as you, so no doubt I’ll have the same success ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things I love about social media is connecting with authors for that peek behind-the-scenes, getting insight into the process and the characters … especially for great books that you never want to end!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Terrific interview here!

    And I can so relate to Taylor’s comments about how she drafts, especially when she says that she lets “it sit on my computer untouched for as long as I can, schedule-wise. And then I come back to it, read it, make a list of everything that isn’t working, and get started editing — again a certain amount of words per day…”
    That’s how I am working now. I get it all out, then have to leave it alone for a long while. Then, when I come back to it, I can see what’s working and what isn’t, and make changes.

    Works for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great interview. I love Taylor – her Twitter feed regularly brings on the laughs.

    Especially interesting to hear how other author’s draft. Love hearing her process! I’ve discovered I pretty much first draft in the same way. It’s basically impossible to think of anything else until it’s all out. (Sorry husband and kids.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. To help revise my novel I’ve read a fair number of agent preferences from submissions including yours. I then went back to doing what Taylor suggests, My problem is that now I’ve picked up on the issues, it threatens not only to change the story but the theme as well. I began by trying to tell the state of mind of my protagonist and then went in to the past to tell the story. And as I tried to develop his character and what makes him tick, it does ramble a bit. I’d be grateful for suggestions on how to proceed.


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