Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Laurie Frankel

Laurie Frankel is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of four novels. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, People Magazine, Lit Hub, The Sydney Morning Herald, and other publications. She is the recipient of the Washington State Book Award and the Endeavor Award. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and been optioned for film and TV. A former college professor, she now writes full-time in Seattle, Washington where she lives with her family and makes good soup.

Frankel's new novel is One Two Three.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Lots! I can’t take credit for the title One Two Three — my editor came up with it — but it’s doing a lot of heavy lifting here. For one thing, it’s a book about triplets. For another, the title reflects the book’s structure, which is told in turns by three narrators. I think of it like a waltz. And third (I had to have three points, right?), it previews the characters, said aforementioned narrator-triplets, who go by the nicknames One, Two, and Three.

What's in a name?

When the narrators’ mother found out she was having triplets, she gave them all M-names with escalating syllables so she’d be able to keep them straight (or, if you prefer, I did that so you would be able to keep them straight). Mab — named for Shakespeare’s fairy queen from Romeo and Juliet — was born first and is nicknamed One. Monday came second and needed two syllables so her mother named her for the day they were born. Monday also goes by Two. And then Three — Mirabel — came last and needed three syllables, so got, according to Mab, the only normal name.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

For my teenage self, this novel would be like looking in a mirror, a lot more than it is for me, in fact. It’s a good thing I used to be a teenage girl because I had to summon her to write these teenage girls since it’s been a really long time for me. This world of high school girldom seems ages ago to me, but my teenage self would be BFFs with these girls for sure.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are hard to write. Endings don’t feel like they get written at all — just found. It feels like the whole process of writing a novel boils down to finding the ending, and it’s not something I write at all. I hope you get to the end of this book and feel empowered and lit up. Meantime, when I say beginnings are hard, I’m leaning hard on that plural. For one thing, each narrator gets her own first chapter — so there are three of them — but for another, I rewrote the first page of this book from scratch a dozen times.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

The three narrators of this book are very different from one another, but they all have lots in common with me. I share Mab’s self-doubt and worry that she’s tricked everyone into thinking she’s actually smart. I share Monday’s desire for control and devotions to books and specificity of language. I share Mirabel’s role as the writer, the connector, the observer and aspirer. What does it say about me that I am very like three people who are very different from one another? It’s a good question.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I love this question! International travel (back when such a thing was possible), live theater (ditto), visual art, baseball, nature, especially the owls in the park near my house.
Visit Laurie Frankel's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Laurie Frankel and Calli.

The Page 69 Test: One Two Three.

--Marshal Zeringue