Julie Buxbaum is the author of the wildly popular novel, THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, which Hollywood snapped right up; the adaptation is currently in production, and the film should be released sometime in 2010. Her second novel, AFTER YOU, is being released in the US today. We’re thrilled she took time out of her busy schedule to visit us here at WU to reveal the secret behind her high-concept novels. Welcome, Julie!
The Genesis of the Novel
It’s always interesting right around the time of publication—when you have an actual book that you’ve written in your hands—to think back and reflect on the genesis of the novel. These days, I keep asking myself: where did all these three hundred and some odd pages of AFTER YOU come from?
I know I started out with a single burning question: how well do we really know the people we love? But looking back, almost two years later, I have a new perspective on why I was so taken with this theme. Only with hindsight do I see that each of my books have been a direct product of where I was in my life. With THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE I was interested in watching a woman grapple with a late coming of age. At the time, I too, was struggling to figure out who exactly I wanted to be when I grew up. With AFTER YOU, I was much less interested in watching a character come of age, and more in the unique challenges we face once we meet our adult selves and they don’t necessarily match our expectations.
When I started working on AFTER YOU, I was recently engaged after more than six years of dating my now-husband. I think I can say with a fair bit of certainty I knew the man I had committed to marrying, or at the very least, there was no possible way I could have known him better. But when facing the prospect of lifelong commitment, I was suddenly obsessed with the fact that despite our intimacy, I still had no clue what went on in that brain of his, that there were whole parts of him that would remain forever inaccessible to me. This wasn’t a statement about our relationship, of course, but just one of the hard truths of being human: we may never be able to fully know the people we love most.
And from there—this knotty personal issue I was working through—the plot of AFTER YOU was born. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for one person to step into the life of another, and learn about a person they thought they had known. When Ellie’s closest friend is suddenly murdered one day on the streets of Notting Hill, Ellie immediately moves to London to help take care of Lucy’s eight-year-old daughter, and pick up the pieces of the life Lucy has left behind. And what Ellie finds, of course, is that Lucy’s world contrasts wildly from what Ellie had imagined. There are secrets and insecurities and shocking decisions. At the same time, Ellie finds herself questioning her own choices and motivations, leaving her to wonder why she so easily dropped everything—her marriage, her work, her life—to come to London. Leaving her to wonder too, how well she actually knows herself.
AFTER YOU was my attempt to look behind the curtain, to allow us the vicarious opportunity to step into another’s shoes. My husband and I are now happily married, but still, he occasionally catches me looking at him with a writer’s curiosity, and he prepares himself for the inevitable and very annoying question that always accompanies my glance: “What are you thinking?” I’m hoping one of these days, his answer will trigger some great idea for book three…
Thanks for being here, Julie! Readers, you can learn more about Julie and her books at her website HERE, and purchase them at brick-and-mortar bookstores and online everywhere.