Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine discussion

Still Lives
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Still Lives > Questions for the Author

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Hello Sunshine | 58 comments Mod
Maria Hummel has agreed to answer some questions for the book club. Ask 'em!

Anything from questions about the book to her writing process.

Priscilla (cillabrarian) | 7 comments What inspired you to add in all the F. Scott Fitzgerald references in the book?

message 3: by Bev (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bev Bolyard (bevb1316) | 1 comments Why do you believe society has such a fascination with violence against women?

Caroline To piggy back on Priscilla’s question: I don’t remember if it was mentioned, but what F. Scott Fitzgerald biography was she reading?

message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria Hummel | 3 comments Hi Priscilla!

I was interested in Fitzgerald for a few reasons. When I lived in Hollywood, I found out about a number of the places he used to frequent--including Greenblatt's, where he bought a chocolate bar before he died--and it fascinated me to be walking the same blocks, when they look so different nowadays. It just felt like his presence--as a man and as a literary figure--was part of my L.A. experience and I wanted to make it part of Maggie's.

Most people regard FSF's time in L.A. as a failure. He made some money, but he didn't really soar as a screenwriter, and his alcoholism eventually killed him. So that intrigued me as well, and it felt connected to Maggie's feelings that she'd come to L.A. in part to reinvent herself but she couldn't do it, and she resented Greg for letting his ambition shape him into an entirely new person.

Finally, I wanted to play with inverting The Great Gatsby, which is a classic story of power and the provincial in the big city, but told through a very masculine lens. Although there are many differences in the books' plotting and overall narrative effects, some of the character archetypes match up (at least in my mind) but are recast to give more agency to the women in the story.

Thanks for a great question!

message 6: by Maria (new)

Maria Hummel | 3 comments Hi Bev--

That's a great question and a big one. I can't speak for society because I am just an individual, but I do think the availability of images of violence against women has spiked since we're all online a lot, and since so many different media are competing for our attention. Beauty sells. Violence sells. True crime sells. But the constant focus on the crimes and the victimizations perpetuates a flattening of the actual lives and stories of women, and I think it's healthy to practice some self-examination about how and where we are spending our time.

message 7: by Maria (new)

Maria Hummel | 3 comments Hi Caroline--I was reading the Bruccoli biography, which is mostly excellent. Maggie is reading a fictional one because I wanted to include an anecdote that Sheilah Graham recounts in one of her books on FSF about Fitzgerald showing up to a party of young actors in L.A. The actors were all delighted and surprised to meet him because they thought he was already dead!

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