Thursday, June 4, 2020

Q&A with Loretta Nyhan

Loretta Nyhan is the author of the new novel The Other Family. Her other books include Digging In and All the Good Parts. She lives in the Chicago area.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Other Family, and for your character Ally?

A: A few years ago, I was at a party discussing the 23andMe DNA test. One man in the group said he'd discovered he had an aunt and cousins he never knew about. I started hearing more and more stories like this, and I thought, hmmmm...that's interesting.

At the same time, a number of people in my life started to suffer from autoimmune disorders. I wished I could do something for them, but I felt helpless. I'm not a doctor, but I am a writer, so I came up with Ally and Kylie's journey towards healing in The Other Family

Q: Can you say more about the book’s focus on autoimmune disorders?

A: My nephew suffers from a severe peanut allergy--this book is partially dedicated to him. Also, I know so many kids and adults who've been diagnosed with autoimmune issues. I was very moved by their determination to seek answers. Autoimmune disorders can be very tricky to diagnose. 

Q: What do you think the novel says about the idea of family? 

A: That we can find happiness and fulfillment from broadening our sometimes narrow definition of what makes a family. 

Q: Did you know how the book would end before you started working on it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: When I start a book, I only need to know two things--the first line and the last chapter. I knew going in how I wanted it to end. I just wasn't sure what I needed to do to get my characters to that point!

Q: What are you working on now?   

A: A novel called The New Person. It's about a woman who, feeling like a failure, decides to become a surrogate for an old colleague. It'll be out in January 2022.

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: As a writer, my primary goal is to entertain with my work. I'm hoping, that in these troubled times, my stories can give readers a bit of an escape.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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