Every summer needs a good book, and I found one with the three beautiful heroines in Meg Donohue’s All The Summer Girls. In Philadelphia, good girl Kate is dumped by her fiancé the day she learns she is pregnant with his child. In New York City, beautiful stay-at-home mom Vanessa finds herself obsessively searching the Internet for news of an old flame. And in San Francisco, Dani, the wild child and aspiring writer who can’t seem to put down a book—or a cocktail—long enough to open her laptop, has just been fired… again. In an effort to regroup, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani retreat to the New Jersey beach town where they once spent their summers. Emboldened by the seductive cadences of the shore, the women begin to realize just how much their lives, and friendships, have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful night on the beach eight years earlier—and the secrets that only now threaten to surface.
I loved Meg’s straightforward writing that effortlessly showcased these three women, and was so excited when Meg agreed to speak with me about All the Summer Girls.
What inspired you to write All The Summer Girls?
I’ve lived in San Francisco for seven years now, and although I love the city, I (like Dani) miss the “real” summer weather of the East Coast. I wanted to write a book that transported me–and the reader–to the warmth of the summers I remember, and all of the accompanying memories of friendship and freedom that those childhood vacations represented for me.
Is there a character who shares any of your traits?
I share a trait or two with each of them, and certainly feel connected to each one. Like Kate, I’m a fairly organized person. Like Vanessa, I’m a mother deeply in love with my child(ren). And like Dani, I’m a reader and a writer and, occasionally, a procrastinator!
Why was it important to include the heavier them of Colin’s death in the story?
From the moment these women developed in my imagination, I saw each of them wrestling with both guilt and love for the same boy. Colin was integral to the story–his death drove them apart, and it was his death that they needed to address with honesty and empathy in order to move forward both as individuals and as friends.
Did your own life experience impact the story in any way?
Like my characters, I went to a Quaker school in Philadelphia and spent my childhood summers in Avalon, New Jersey. I also rented a house on the island with my best friends for one very fun summer. Luckily, the most drama that summer held for us was occasional fight over bathroom cleaning!
What advice would you give to new writers?
The most boring advice in the world, I’m afraid: Read and write, every day if possible! I also found I had a breakthrough with my writing when I started outlining my novels. I know some people prefer to wing it through the first draft and shape the story in later versions, but my own storytelling really improved when I began to take the time to think through the entire story ahead of writing it.
Are you working on any future projects? Can you give a hint as to what it is?
I am just finishing up my next book, Dog Crazy, which will be published in March 2015. The narrator is a pet bereavement therapist who is very good at her job, but hides major issues of her own. It’s a tale of love, loss, and the dogs who save us. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of All the Summer Girls and How to Eat a Cupcake, which was translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Polish, and Spanish. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, two young daughters, and dog, and is working on her next novel. Read more about Meg Donohue here.