Last month, I raved about Laura Dave’s delicious new novel, Hello, Sunshine, a tale of a celebrity chef whose life, marriage, and career implode when everything about her is revealed to be a lie. This novel, Dave’s fifth, is topping must-read lists left and right and is without a doubt one of my favorite books of the year. I recently chatted with Laura about writing, reading, and who her first guest would be if she had her own Food Network show. (Trust me, ladies. It’s a good one.)
Your novels are always so entertaining and cover such a variety of worlds, from family vineyards in Sonoma to divorce parties in the Hamptons. Hello, Sunshine keeps with the themes we all love in your novels—identity, family, and relationships—and really explores the notion of curated personalities on social media. How did the idea for this novel come to you?
My novels always start with a question. In Hello, Sunshine, the question was: how do you stay true to yourself when you are trying to present to the world around you?
Very early on, I knew that Sunshine would quickly become one of my favorite fictional characters. She’s smart, complicated, and despite her spiraling dishonesty, I understood her, rooted for her, and just fell in love with her. Not what you might expect when a character tells you in the first chapter that she’s not a good person! What was it like creating a character who, at the outset, doesn’t paint herself as traditionally “likeable”?
I’m so happy you feel that way about her! It was a challenge to create someone that was making hard decisions for herself, the way Sunny was doing, and to figure out how to get her to make better decisions in an organic way.
Sunshine’s culinary persona is as a farmer’s daughter. Her nemesis, Amber, is all about toast. If you could have your own Food Network show, what would be the theme? Who would be your first celebrity guest in the kitchen?
I love The Food Network so I could imagine several shows I’d love to host on their channel. It would definitely involve fresh, delicious food. And it would take place in Santa Monica. Hopefully with gardens in the yard. Hugh Jackman has been a great supporter of my novels, so I would love to have him as the first guest.
Did you always know you’d be a writer? Is there a book that made you fall in love with storytelling?
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved reading and writing. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite.
I always love your endings. They’re so satisfying without tying everything up in a neat little bow, giving the sense that life goes on for these characters. Do you often find yourself thinking about your characters and their lives even after your novels are out in the world? I always think about Georgia from Eight Hundred Grapes and wonder how she’s doing!
I do think of them, and like to imagine they’re off doing well and enjoying themselves.
Hello, Sunshine is at the top of so many summer reading lists. What are you reading this summer?
I have a young son, so not as much as I’d like, though I’ve been sneaking away to read Tom Perrotta’s latest which is great.
You’ve now published five fabulous novels. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors out there, what would it be?
Create a writing habit. It can be every day, or a few days a week—the important thing is you sit down and write.
Thank you for taking the time to chat, Laura! And thank you for giving us so many wonderful characters to care about.