Holly: I like to set books in a summer community, not just because it’s hot and fun and sexy and lots of great things happen and food is eaten and hopefully good sex scenes and all kinds of juicy stuff, but also because the basis for it is really rife with current issues of inequality and class and differences and learning to talk to each other and deal with each other and have problems. It’s a look at society and where we are today, not just a lite beach read.
Jane: A group of people meet at university in the UK in the 1980s. Half are American. Half are English. They live together at university. They become best friends. They swear that they're going to be friends forever and ever. Of course, life gets in the way. They graduate. One of them is harboring this great secret. She really has to withdraw from the others. We follow them individually throughout their lives. Evvie is a model who then is in an abusive marriage and a single mother. We have Topher who’s a soap actor who is gay but has tremendous issues with intimacy. Then we have Maggie. All Maggie has ever wanted is a big country house filled with animals and children. She doesn't get to have the life that she wants. We follow them throughout the course of their lives. Then at their thirtieth reunion, by which time they’ve all completely lost touch, they all show up at their thirtieth reunion. Within minutes, it’s as if time has stopped. They’ve been swept back to those early days. What starts as a fancy, “Hey, wouldn't it be great if we lived together?” becomes a reality. They all move into together. Of course, there is still this secret from the past that is going to show up and threaten to explode and destroy everything that they’ve created.
Karen: I had this amazing, magical day in my twenties. I had gone to a party like the one that opens the book, this literary crowd, and met a guy, an artist. Soon after, we had this amazing day at the beach, the ocean. It was deserted and after a storm. A buoy from a lobster pod was quite close to shore. We danced around in waves. We pulled it in, very much like I described in the book. We took the lobsters. Being in our twenties, we didn't think that this is poaching. [laughter] We walked carrying the lobsters by the tail back to his house. We had dinner. Many years later, this guy died. Many years after that, I wanted to capture this day in writing because it was very magical at the time and became more special later. I had lost touch with him. I wanted to write about it.
Fiona: Each of my books are situated around a landmark New York City building. The building for this one is of course the Chelsea Hotel. It’s about female friendship and the theater in New York City and politics, which is something new that I'm layering in. It takes place in 1950 from the point of view of an actress and a playwright, both women, who are trying to mount a play on Broadway during the McCarthy era. That was a very interesting time for actors in New York City.
Liz: Don't Wait Up is a collection of humor essays. It’s about the fact that I am terrified of being a mother because I inherited the maternal instincts of a hot dog from my own mother, from my biological mother. I am always shocked when I show up for them and when I'm not her, still to this day. I stay at work a lot and try not to come home. I do eventually. I had all these stories I wanted to tell from my childhood. I wrote all these essays. I want to write something that's my own and not TV and that I have control over. I took this class. I started writing. All of the essays started having the same theme no matter what they were about. They were all about being a mother and not really having a mother. That was the arc that I found.
Joanne: If you imagine the most luxurious spa you've ever seen, that's the Farm. It’s got everything. It’s got gourmet meals and private massages, private yoga instruction. It’s all for free for the women who are staying there. In fact, they can get paid big money for spending their nine months there. The only catch is that they can't leave the grounds. Every move is monitored. They're totally cut off from their daily lives because off all these women are surrogates. By contract, they’ve agreed to prioritize the life that's growing inside of them over everything in their own lives. They carry the babies of the richest people in the world.
Laurie: Class Mom is about the mother who volunteers in the classroom to help out everybody. My character, Jen Dixon, was a mom very early in her life. She had a crazy ride through Europe following the band INXS. She had two kids by two different band members. Then she finally came back to the United States. She raised her kids. Then she met the man of her dreams and she had another kid. She has girls in college and one starting kindergarten, which is a unique and interesting place to be. She gets roped into being class mom.
Marcy: Very Nice is literary soap opera. I wanted to write about a student-teacher affair. I've always been so interested in it. It was material that other people wrote about and I was jealous about. I was like, maybe I could write it anyway even though I haven't had this experience. That's what one of the pleasures of fiction is. You can make things up.