LW: I understand the place in the world for the chick lit with the girl in the stilettos who gets the job and the man and all of that, and that’s all great and fine when you’re in your twenties or early thirties. But I think real life, and real marriage, is long and a roller coaster, and there are good periods and bad periods. I wanted to display that without it being this cataclysmic downer book. But I think so many people who have been married for more than 10 years, when the honeymoon is definitely off the road and you’re hitting real things in life—friends getting divorced or having children with disabilities or friends being diagnosed with illnesses or parents dying —those are all the things in life that can either add to or detract from your relationship or your marriage. And this book is a snapshot of people who have stuck it out, who are there and are wrestling with real issues.
MORE: The teen driving the car in the accident talks about joining the military in the book. Was that a nod to your work with the Bob Woodruff Foundation?
LW: It totally was. I wasn’t sure how the book was going to end. I originally had Alex (the teen driver of the car) as a voice in the first draft and I actually loved writing the voice of a 17-year-old surly kid whose life had dramatically changed. In the end, we decided that didn’t really work. But then I hit on this concept that he would choose to go into the military, rolling the dice on his future, throwing himself to fate. It was a little bit of self-punishment, not in the sense that going into the military is a punishment, but we were a country at war when this book takes place, so he knows he’s not going to be sent to some garden area in a time of peace. Then it became, in my mind, a way to continue the conversation about our troops and about the Foundation and to remind people that there are still people serving.
MORE: Do you think the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon will pass?
LW: I think these books have always existed. They were called porn in the past, and you couldn’t get them at your average book store. It’s almost like everyone thinks this is a new genre, when it’s the same old, same old. My theory is the Internet allows things to become these surprise successes in a way that they couldn’t in the past because the funnel was so small. I think the advance of e-readers will mean we’ll have an even greater opportunity to skip across a lot of different genres, and I think there’s always going to be room for titillating sexual stuff. It’s so funny because the Fifty Shades of Grey thing was popping out in my area, a suburb of New York, a little ahead of the curve. I tried pitching it to my network and they were telling me it was never a story they would do —women reading porn. And I was like,You sure? Because I think that this is going to be a tsunami. We did end up ultimately doing the story. Being able to access any kind of thrill on the Internet has made it OK to be sitting there reading it on the subway in plain view of everyone.
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