INTERVIEW: Kerry Reichs

| 31 January , 2010 | Reply

Kristy McCormick

After reading Kerry Reichs\’ two novels ‘The Best Day of Someone Else\’s Life\’ and ‘The Good Luck Girl\’ I now recommend them to all my girlfriends. They are both refreshingly honest, sharp and make you laugh out loud one minute while feeling a pang of heartache in the next! Kerry was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for us, and I must say I am looking forward to the pleasure of her third book. Enjoy the interview!

Q: With an already successful career as a lawyer, what prompted you to take the plunge into writing your first novel?

I always intended to write a book.  In my mind, it was to be when I was older, perhaps an empty-nester, and I had Something to say.  I felt that some nadir in my life had to occur to give me a sadness and wisdom to write anything meaningful.  As I approached 35 and partnership in a large law firm, I questioned why I was waiting.  I realized that I did have something to say.  You don\’t have to be a James Joyce to write something that people will want to read.  You simply have to tell a story to which people can connect.  Humour and romance may be regarded by some as the redheaded stepchild of fiction, but the reality is that people like it.

Q: Who is your favourite author? Your favourite book?

Like Maeve in The Good Luck Girl, I can\’t really say I have one favourite book.  Different moods prompt different preferences.  But, if I was going to be stranded on a desert island with only three books, I\’d take Pride and Prejudice, because it\’s the greatest romance ever written; Catch-22, because its satire gives you perspective on what\’s really crazy in a crazy world; and A Bear Called Paddington, because no matter how many times I read it, it makes me laugh every time.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?

I recently finished The Help, Kathryn Stockett\’s addictively readable debut novel.  Stockett weaves a thoughtful and authentic story of three women exploring their personal beliefs within an inflexible system, creating a vivid picture of the social awakening of civil rights in the American south in 1962.

Q: In The Best Day of Someone Else\’s Life, Vi\’s attitude towards marriage and getting married changes after she participates in so many other weddings. Has your own experience of being so involved in other people\’s weddings altered your outlook?

I\’m a Southern girl, and an unmarried one.  As recently as four years ago, when I began the book, I might have said I wanted my own grand event, eager for my turn.  But, while my heroine is not me, I\’ve been instructed by Vi\’s process of maturation.  Even though I created her, she reshaped the way I think with her choices and opinions.  I suspect I would do it very differently now.

Despite the occasionally cynical tone of Vi\’s – and my own – musings, I love weddings.  I confess to an anthropological interest in comparing and contrasting.  But also, they move me.  The bride always looks the loveliest she has ever looked on the day she gets married.  I am unfailingly touched to be included in a wedding, and thankful for the many friends who have invited me to share their special experience.

Q: The weddings that Vi attends in The Best Day of Someone Else\’s are sometimes moving, sometimes hilarious – are they based on weddings you attended?

A fellow writer once said to me that an author should never admit to any autobiographical content in their work.  I, however, believe that you write what you know.  While my book is a work of fiction, it is drawn from life experience. I served in two weddings before I was seven, the tacky, poufy 1970s flower girl garb a forecast of future teal and celery satin dresses that would crowd my closet.  I\’ve attended over seventy weddings in the last decade, serving as a maid of honour six times, a bridesmaid five times, and a reader twice.

On a few occasions I was asked but never made it to the altar, because neither did the couple.  Happily, the bride figured out her mistake before she figured out the bridesmaid dresses.  On at least one memorable occasion I was “disinvited” as a bridesmaid.  She said it was necessary to appease some cousins.  My ego elected to believe her.  I\’ve been one of eight bridesmaids and one of one.  I gave some burnt toasts and I was asked to work in television after a toast.  The only dress I ever wore again was the one I got to pick myself.  Whether poignant or hilarious, I\’ve loved every wedding I\’ve attended, and have been honoured to be included.

Q: In The Good Luck Girl, the central character Maeve is a peripheral character in your previous novel. Did you always plan on a novel that in a sense followed on from the first?

I wish I could be so fortunate as to be able to plan my next novel completely on my own.  More often, a character, whether a familiar one in a current work or a new one waiting in the wings, gives me a fierce nudge and relays his or her story.  The most persistent often prevail.  I actually had planned to write a different book after The Best Day of Someone Else\’s Life, but Maeve was unrelenting, so I paid attention and fell in love with her beautiful story, which became The Good Luck Girl.  My third book is likely to feature a whole new cast.

Q: As the daughter of another famous novelist, Kathy Reichs, do you feel increased pressure to write successful books?

Not at all.  My mother has always been my biggest fan.  She is a second-career writer as well, and rather than feel pressure, I was encouraged by her example that it wasn\’t completely crazy to leave a successful law career to pursue writing.

Q: I read in an interview that your mother pesters you to put a ‘murder\’ or ‘dead person\’ in your books so she can help you – do you ever see a time when the two of you might collaborate on a book?

Anything is possible!

Q: You now have two novels out there – what\’s next for Kerry Reichs?

I\’m currently working on a third book that\’s a bit of a departure for me. It\’s a multiple point of view book where each character has a unique story that intersects with the others at a common point of interest.  I\’m enjoying writing from different perspectives and moving from character to character as they all explore a challenging personal issue.

Q: Can we expect to see more of the fabulously quirky Connelly family?

I never know what will transpire with those unpredictable Connellys, other than imaginative meals.  We\’ll just have to wait and see!

Kerry Reichs is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, where she learned the importance of “the lovely thank you note” and white meat only chicken salad.  Kerry practiced law in Washington, D.C. for over six years prior to taking a sabbatical to write a novel.  After discovering that sabbaticals agree with her, Kerry focused on writing full time.  Kerry drove across the United States four times while researching The Good Luck Girl, and discovered that if you plan ahead poorly in isolated sections of West Texas and find there is no room at the Inn, you can, in fact, sleep comfortably in a MINI Cooper convertible.  Kerry lives in Washington, D.C., and spends as much time as possible in Los Angeles and London.  To learn more, visit

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