Hello, everyone! It’s so nice to be back here, and thanks to Cindy for having me. I first met Cindy because we have the same fabulous agent, and from the very first moment, she has just been the nicest and greatest friend a new writer — or any writer — could have. (That will be $20, Cindy.)
I was out for a run when I came up with the idea for The Next Best Thing…well, more of a stagger, since I’m about the least athletic person on earth. Anyway, I was staggering along, thinking about what to write next. How about a widow? I thought. A widowed heroine is a classic theme in romance…second chance at love and all that. But what if she didn’t really want to fall in love this time? What if she was looking for Mr. Not-That-Bad? And the hero…who would be the worst choice for a young widow still aching over her first love? How about…hmmm…how about her dead husband’s brother? Here I shuffled to a stop, gasping like a tuna pulled from the ocean. That’s good, Higgins, I thought. Write that down when you get home.
Thus was born The Next Best Thing, which just hit the shelves last month. Lucy Lang is most definitely not looking for love. Nah. She’d rather have a guy with low cholesterol and a Volvo than someone who makes her heart beat faster. First order of business…end things with Jimmy’s all-too-lovable brother, Ethan. And by things, of course I mean…well, you know. Nooky. It’s their little secret, this friends with benefits arrangement. And because Ethan is way too loveable, and because she’s already married and buried one Mirabelli boy, Lucy figures she should look elsewhere.
One of the things I really love to do in my books is to write about family, especially the loving, nosy, opinionated type that I myself come from. I think that families add so much to a book — who else can torment you with such accuracy, after all? And so we have the Black Widows, Lucy’s mother and two aunts, widows all. They’re not quite sure that Lucy should be looking for a husband when none of them felt that particular need. We also have the Mirabellis, Lucy’s in-laws, who have a shrine to their dead son in the kitchen of the restaurant they own. Jimmy was perfect in their eyes…Ethan’s another story. We have Corinne, Lucy’s younger sister, who’s obsessed with her own husband’s health and is basically worrying him into a premature grave.
The Next Best Thing contains a first for me — a cat! Please bear with me while I say something to Cinnamon, my own feline: You got your way. There’s a cat on the cover. Will you please stop bringing me mice with their heads chewed off? (Thanks, I’m done now). I’ve already had letters from people saying, “I wasn’t sure it was really your book, since there was no dog!”
So yes, a cat. Now, for the record, yes, I am a dog person, but I also love cats. Some cats. The kind who don’t ask to be let in and out fourteen times an hour. The kind who don’t start yowling at 4:09 every morning. The kind who never scratch the children, the furniture or me. In other words, fictional cats. Lucy’s cat is named Fat Mikey…and I love Fat Mikey. He has the soul of a Mafia don…and really, what cat worth his salt doesn’t?
So what do you think? Cats or dogs? Give me something specific…“My dog doesn’t laugh at me when I pull on Spanx” would be a good one. Or, “My cat shredded that ugly sweater my mother-in-law gave me, saving me from ever having to wear it.” I’ll give away a signed copy of The Next Best Thing to a commenter.
Can’t wait to hear your stories!