Backstory

Authors tell you what inspired their work

Emily Listfield, Author of "Best Intentions"

My novel Best Intentions built on this kernel of an idea: What happens when you think you know what the person you love is thinking — and you're dead wrong? I think we've all experienced this in various relationships — you may act with the best intentions to make someone else happy but without real communication, the results can be disastrous.  

I've always been fascinated by the question of how well you can ever really know another person, no matter how close you think you are or how much you might love them. My last book, Waiting to Surface, was a fictionalized account of my husband's real-life disappearance while swimming off the coast of Florida. His body was never found. In that novel, I tried to gain some sense of understanding about him, our marriage, and what I once thought to be true. Needless to say, it was an intense writing experience and when I finished, I wanted to write something a fun, a faster-paced page-turner filled with observations of the particular corner of Manhattan I am privy to.

Best Intentions centers on the reunion of four old college friends as they examine where they are in their lives versus where they thought they would be. Of course, since Best Intentions is a mystery, one of the characters ends up dead. The narrator, Lisa, is left to wonder how well she knows her husband. Is he a cheater? Is he a murderer? And, how well did she truly know her best friend Deirdre? 

One of the aspects of writing Best Intentions that I enjoyed most was the social observation. I'm a downtown Manhattan single mom with a daughter in an elite Upper East Side private school. Trust me, these are very different worlds... and irresistible to a novelist, ripe for irony and humor! Needless to say, I gave Lisa two daughters in, well, an elite Upper East Side private school. She and her husband are struggling to pay their kids' tuition as they face strained finances and the risk of job loss. The effects of financial stress on a marriage as well as money envy were always themes I wanted to explore but as I was writing, and the financial crisis was deepening around me, it become even more timely. To tell you the truth, each time I got the galleys back (throughout the fall) I was able to make the novel more and more reflective of what was going on in the news every day. 

Luckily, money isn't everything: There's a heady dose of sexual obsession, marital stagnation and rampant flirtation among the characters as well — which is always great fun to write. After all, sometimes even the best intentions go fabulously awry.  

I also have started my own blog called Brunch Babble, in homage to the weekly get-togethers by the two main characters (Lisa and Deirdre). Over at BB, I share my stories, talk about issues affecting my daily life (many mirror the books main themes: marriage, motherhood, money, friendship), I ask questions, solicit advice from commenters, and post updates about the book. 

I am always looking for new girlfriends to gossip with over a "virtual latte," so please visit the blog.

Emily Listfield is a former magazine editor in chief and author of five novels, including the New York Times Notable It Was Gonna Be Like Paris and Waiting to Surface. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, Redbook, Self, Ladies' Home Journal, New York magazine, Parade, and many other publications. She lives in New York City with her daughter. Find out more about Emily Listfield at her website.


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