XOXO is thrilled to welcome Susan Mallery to the blog today! Susan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan’s books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.
Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a tattletale toy poodle. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they’re an integral component to a happy life.
Her latest book is Daughters of the Bride, the story of three women who fall in love against the backdrop of their mom’s wedding. We had a few questions to ask her about her books, her fans, and of course, dog weddings…
You’ve been delighting readers with your love stories for years, and with over 141 romances to your name, you’ve written a LOT of wedding scenes. What makes DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE different?
I’m not sure I’d classify DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE as different from my previous books, per se. I think it’s just more of everything readers love about my writing. More drama, more humor, more romance, higher highs and heartbreaking lows. It’s everything my readers want, elevated. Romance plus.
One of the qualities we at XOXOAD love most about your work is the way you write about family—not just the sugar-sweet happy parts, but also the difficult, fighting-at-the-dinner-table stuff. Why do you think it’s important to include the dark parts, and why do your readers respond to it?
I write romance and family drama. That last part isn’t all that dramatic if everyone gets along all the time. Plus, it doesn’t feel real.
My books are set in the day-to-day world, the world in which we live. The drama comes from the personal conflict between two decent people who see things from different perspectives. One of the themes I visit frequently is “finding family.” In DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE, it’s about three sisters and their mom finding their way back to each other. Planning Mom’s wedding draws the family closer than they’ve been in years, bringing out shocking secrets, old hurts, and finally, the chance for reconciliation.
I think readers respond to the family drama in my books because they recognize it from their own lives. No family is perfect, and my books are about finding ways to love each other despite our flaws.
Your debut hardcover sounds like it could be a wonderful romance trilogy. How was the experience of writing this as a breakout hardcover different from telling three separate stories, one for each sister?
In a trilogy—my trilogies, at least—the stories are told sequentially. When you’re reading book 2, the couple from book 1 are happy and in love.
In DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE, the three storylines are happening concurrently, and the events of each story impact the others. All three sisters are going through turning points in their love lives while planning Mom’s wedding. The plotlines are braided together in such a way that if you pull out one, the whole book will unravel.
Did you have a “dream wedding” yourself? Do you believe in dream weddings?
I’ve been married twice. The first time, I was 19, and I did the whole big hoopla. The second time was much more intimate. Only 14 people, a great party. I preferred the second wedding and, perhaps not coincidentally, the second marriage.
Yes, I do believe every couple should plan the wedding of their dreams, but I also think you’ll only be happy if you roll with the punches. Things are going to go wrong, but so what? As long as you’re both there and in love, nothing else matters.
You are an incredibly prolific author, and also engage a ton with your many fans. How do you keep from dropping the ball? (And can your skills apply to wedding planning? )
Actually, I think I’d be a great wedding planner, and that might be a job I’d enjoy if I weren’t writing. As you might have guessed, I wholeheartedly believe in love, so I’d have no cynicism at all when talking to the bride and groom. (Unless they weren’t kind to each other, in which case I might have to quit.)
As for not dropping the ball… I’ve created systems that work for me, to help me stay organized. I’d be lost without my calendar. Not only do I put all of my travel and book club Skype calls on there, but I also have my writing schedule on there so I know exactly where I need to be when working on a book.
DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE explores several different outlooks on love, through the eyes of the three Watson sisters. Do you have a favorite kind of love story to tell?
I have a soft spot in my heart for the misfit heroine whose life is transformed by love. It’s not that she changes, or that love transforms her. It’s that she finds the one man in all the world for whom her particular brand of “misfit” is a perfect fit. That’s the journey Courtney takes in DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE. Through Quinn’s eyes, she will finally see herself as special (in a good way).
Your various pets are well-known to your fans, so here are two hard-hitting questions for you: a) Pets in the wedding party, yes or no? and b) Dog weddings, adorable or insane?
Depends on the pet. If your pet is comfortable in new situations with music and applause and unfamiliar people, then sure, pets in weddings are fun and unpredictable. (See “roll with the punches” earlier.)
Dog weddings? Insane and insanely adorable.
Pictured: Sarge and Pearl, the two real-life dogs who appear in DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE. They live together without the benefit of marriage.