One: As with Cheer: A Novel, the idea for this story came from a relatively off-hand comment someone made to me. A few years ago, a friend asked me to watch her kids one afternoon because she had to drop everything to fly to New York to help her dear friend, a single mother who was struggling with post-partum depression. When she returned home, I asked how her friend was. She described a sad situation and told me that her friend had said, “Take my baby.” Of course, my friend did not take her baby, but the novelist in me thought, “What if…”
Two: As I wrote in a previous post, many of the institutional names are thinly veiled homages to my favorite writers. But many character names are also winks and nods to real-life people — a good friend, favorite yoga teacher, for example. And some less likable and off-hand characters (I won’t reveal which!) are named for frenemies or mean boys from my past!
Three: I made Hillary a general contractor because I wanted her to have a unique job for a woman. And I wanted her to be exceedingly competent in a man’s job because she’s so hapless when it comes to baby-rearing, which is traditionally considered women’s work. I know nothing about construction (despite the fact that my house is undergoing a huge remodel as I type this!) so I consulted the great forums on ContractorTalk.com for the more technical dialog.
Four: Hillary’s neighborhood is Cole Valley, which is a neighborhood I lived in for many years. The flat she and Jesse share on Frederick Street is based on one that a friend of mine used to live in. The Thai food place where Hillary and Jesse first flip a coin is Yukol Thai in the Marina, one of my favorites. Margot’s Upper West Side condo is loosely based on my good friend’s apartment.
Five: Abe and Marigold were later additions to the story. Many of my first beta readers never met them!