Sunday, April 25, 2021

Q&A with Rebecca Hardiman



Photo by Ron Holtz Studio


Rebecca Hardiman is the author of the new novel Good Eggs. She is a former magazine editor, and she lives in New Jersey.


Q: What inspired you to write Good Eggs, and how did you create the Gogarty family?


A: The initial germ of inspiration for Good Eggs occurred when I was in grade school. We had to perform community service and a friend and I would visit the residents of a local nursing home.


There, we met a very colorful character named Dorothy who was totally inappropriate in the best ways--full of stories and jokes and always begging us to smuggle in cans of beer (which my friend did).


She stayed with me because she did not behave in a way I thought elderly people behaved; she kind of upended my idea of older people who are often so quickly dismissed. She defied that.


Years later, when I was in college, I read a story in the paper about two old ladies who break out of a nursing home with an elaborate plan to go to...Burger King. To me, it was darkly humorous.


When I first wrote the story, it was about an American woman in the Midwest and it was a screenplay. Then I started thinking about my own Irish grandmother, whom I adored, and it slowly evolved into a story about an Irish woman and her family in Dublin.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the novel says, “Full of surprises, Hardiman’s endearing novel stands out for its brilliant insight into the mixed blessings of family bonds.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think that's very accurate. The characters love each other, they are always talking and interacting, they are all very engaged with each other, and at the same time they’re stuck with each other.


I mean, what’s better than family, and at the same time, can any one group drive you more to the brink of lunacy? You are inexorably connected, and some days you want to run screaming and other days you put your arms around your people and you’re profoundly grateful.


No one knows me or my vast limitations like my family; no one can push my buttons with such exquisite precision. I wanted to write a story about how it feels to be in a real family, but a funny one. 


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


A: I definitely had no idea how it would end for a long time! And I made many changes and there were many drafts, but I did know I wanted Millie back in her own house in Ireland, having suffered some loss but, more importantly, having gained insight into how important her people were to her and with a new energy about her life, less lonely, more content. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: To my mind, family is ultimately redemptive. These characters, like all of us, are imperfect and flawed. They can be selfish and wrong and make bad choices, they sometimes hurt each other, as family can, or miscommunicate, but they love and care about each other.


As the story progresses, they begin to see things from one another’s perspective and empathize, and they ultimately all forgive each other. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a few ideas percolating about another quirky family, but nothing super solid...yet!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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