Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest novel, Maybe in Another Life, tackles one of the big riddles of life: what if? What if I went home with this man? What if I went home with my friends instead? Maybe in Another Life leaves together the two big what if threads of Hannah Martin's life as she finds love and her way in the world.
Let's begin with the main premise of Maybe in Another Life; what prompted you to explore the "coin flip" moment that decided Hannah's fate in two ways? What was it like writing essentially two different novels at the same time?
I've always been drawn to the idea that small choices in our lives could have drastic effects on our future. When I decided to write a book about it, I knew that I wanted the choice that sets the story off to be small. We often ask ourselves whether we made the right decision when it comes to big questions. Did I choose the right college? Should I have taken that job? I wanted to explore the tiny choices you make that, at first glance, seem like they don't matter.
I love writing two narratives! I think concurrent storylines are my favorite way to write a book. I'm on the lookout for stories that will allow me to play with multiple storylines.
It's not possible to talk about this novel without talking about fate. Since you spent a lot of time considering what makes Hannah's life turn out the way it does, how did you grapple with the concept of fate versus free will? Do you see fate playing out in your own life?
I have a very strong opinion about fate vs. chance in our lives but I'm much more interested in what readers think the book is saying than my own opinion. I will say this: I am always asking myself whether I think something is destined and whether an argument can be made for destiny at all. I usually come back with the same answer: If something is destined to happen, that's beautiful. And if there is no such thing as fate, and my life has turned out this way by chance, there's great beauty in that too.
One of my favorite lines in the book is "Actually, screw it, yes, life is too short to go around lying." What else is life too short to go around doing?
Ha! Life is too short to be on a diet. And yet, here I am, forever dieting. (I should really learn to take my own advice.)
One of the biggest relationships in this book is the friendship between Gabby and Hannah. What message do you hope Maybe in Another Life sends about friendship? What did you learn about friendship while writing this book? Do you have any real life inspiration for example of friends forever?
Hannah's best friend Gabby is an entirely original creation but the love between the two women, the faith that Hannah and Gabby both have in each other, is very much based on my some of my own close friendships. I dedicated the book to those women. I am so fortunate to know people who have believed in me and been there for me in my very best and worst moments.
I focused on the relationship between Hannah and Gabby because I think it's important that we acknowledge how rich and meaningful friendships can be. The great friendships of your life can be just as momentous as your great romances.
How has writing changed for you after finishing book three? What have you learned about yourself as writer? What do still need to work on?
I think the biggest thing I've learned is that it's okay to not deliver perfection. None of my books would be as good without a team of people - namely, my agent Carly Watters and my editor Greer Hendricks - who help mold my work into it's very best shape. I cannot do it alone, nor would I want to. But as I write more, I become more comfortable with not getting it exactly right on the first try. It may seem small but that's a big pill to swallow for a perfectionist like me.