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Everything Nice by Ellen Shanman
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Everything Nice

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Everything Nice by Ellen Shanman
Jul 29, 2008 | ISBN 9780440337454

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  • Jul 29, 2008 | ISBN 9780440337454

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“A chick lit heroine with beauty and brains—and a bad-ass attitude that lands her in trouble…. Everything Nice is a gem of razor-sharp wit and impeccable timing.”—Publishers Weekly

Author Q&A

Many writing experts advise “write about what you know.” Do you agree with this? And what practical advice would you give an aspiring author?

I think there’s a well-intentioned truth in that advice, as long as you don’t take it too literally. I don’t, for example, believe a person should only write from his or her own biographical experience. But you certainly have to know your characters and the world in which you place them. I’m a big fan of research, both in terms of factual information and for inspiration.

My advice to an aspiring writer is to learn to take feedback. You’ll get a lot of it, from your editor, your agent, the friends you ask to read your stuff. Learn to incorporate notes without losing your way, and try not to fall so in love with the sound of your own voice that you forget you’re writing for the reader, which can be tough when you spend all day listening to yourself.

Which came first: the characters, or the storyline?

Characters always come first for me, but the plot is never far behind. The characters are always tied to the situations I’d like to see them in. I’ve been told I write incredibly awkward scenarios, that my humor comes from making the characters uncomfortable, which is probably right on the money. When I’m plotting, I do tend to try to place my characters in the predicaments that would challenge them most, personally, socially, etc. Everything Nice is about a woman who has no connection to femininity, to what it means to be a daughter, a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a friend to other women. So I stuck her in a girls’ school, gave her a whole new family of women, and sent her to a spa.

Is there something in your Bantam Discovery Novel that you are particularly proud, or happy, about?

I’m pleased that I think Everything Nice is the kind of story that’s frequently written about male characters and not as often about women. Mike Edwards is tough as nails, incredibly competitive, and doesn’t know how to connect. We’ve seen this character as a man more often—drinks too much, sleeps with the wrong people, doesn’t let anyone in, gets knocked down about thirty-seven times before she starts to figure it all out. But I think she’s hilarious in her bumbling and really endearing anyway.

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