Thanks and welcome Grace, for visiting to discuss Nancy's Theory of Style. Why did you switch to this genre? How easy was that for you?
Grace: I studied literature and creative writing, so naturally I feel guilty about writing romantic comedies. After all, there are so many serious topics to cover: war, pestilence, families ripped apart by abuse and addiction, political corruption. These fabulous topics can be paired with characters who feel a sense of ennui, or alienation, or unspecified rage. I’m utterly dazzled by the range of Oprahish subjects that reveal moral depravity in a convenient, fictionalized form.
Sometimes I daydream about writing such a book. It will be in dispassionate third-person, present tense natch, and I’ll strive to make it simultaneously stark and turgid. It will have tortured metaphors and detail so painstaking that readers will wish they were having a root canal instead. In other words: it would have artistic merit. I’d be able to tell my intellectual friends that I’m working on this noble tome, and they would be impressed and invite me to speak at their book clubs.
Instead, when people ask me what I do, I mumble, “Comedy, um, set in San Francisco, er, young woman, very stylish, contemporary…Oh, are those grilled prawns on the buffet?”
Why do I do it then, when I must suffer the scorn that accompanies a writer of, ugh, romantic comedies? Because I am deeply and irrevocably flawed. Because I would rather laugh than cry. Because I’m delighted when I make others laugh.
My agent told me that I can’t use the term “romantic comedy” to describe my books. “It’s the kiss of death,” she said. Frankly, I have a hard time keeping up with publishers’ What’s Hot/What’s Not Hot lists. Anyway, Nancy’s Theory of Style is a romantic comedy about a young socialite, Nancy Carrington-Chambers, who leaves her gauche husband and their tacky McMansion. She returns to her pied-a-terre in posh Pacific Heights to focus on her event planning company, Froth.
Nancy hires the perfect assistant. Derek Cathcart is a British, gay, and impeccable. Then Nancy’s irresponsible cousin deposits her four-year-old in Nancy’s care and takes off to places unknown. You know what I’m going to say now, right? Sure, you do. Mayhem ensues! I love that phrase. There is a party that goes tragically awry. Parties that go tragically awry are a common theme in my stories. And in my life. But let’s not go there.
When I wrote Nancy’s Theory of Style, I was thinking of our society’s materialism. People were overextending themselves to buy horrible huge houses with rooms they never used. There was a sense of entitlement. There was a sense that things could provide happiness. I also thought of those women who have an unrealistic list of requirements for any man. Then they wonder why they’re alone.
So my message, if any, is that perfection is not only unachievable, it is undesirable. The quirks in life make it interesting and beautiful.
Thanks so much, Grace, for giving us so much insight into your new book! Here is my Review of Nancy's Theory of Style
Grace Coopersmith is one and the same as Marta Acosta, author of the CASA DRACULA books.