Thursday, March 9, 2023

Q&A with Addie Woolridge

Photo by Natasha Beale



Addie Woolridge is the author of the new novel Anatomy of a Meet Cute. Her other novels include The Bounce Back. Also a classically trained opera singer, she lives in Northern California.


Q: What inspired you to write Anatomy of a Meet Cute, and how did you create your characters Sam and Grant?


A: Anytime someone asks this question, I have a tiny freakout because it’s such a clear look into my extremely odd mind.


Basically, I’m extremely nerdy. Public administration is one of my jams. I have a degree in it and I’m fascinated by the ways in which individuals and institutions try to solve what are effectively governance and policy failures. So, now that you know the level of geek you are getting…


I started writing Anatomy of a Meet Cute in that phase of the pandemic where all of us were reading any health news we could get our hands on. Stanford Medicine published an article about the poor pregnancy outcomes lesbian families experience, regardless of race.


As a member of a marginalized community, I know that the pregnancy outcomes for my community are also poor. It made me wonder who the system was working for (answer: almost no one) and if anyone was examining mitigating factors.


Since it was the pandemic, I had time to really fall down the Google rabbit hole of studies, which led me to the positive impact doulas can have on birth outcomes.


From there, I remembered a funny story I’d heard about a doctor who was on a plane when there was a medical emergency. He spent the whole ride panicking because he wasn’t an ER doctor and didn’t remember much about emergency medicine from medical school. Luckily there was an ER nurse on board and everything was fine. The two thoughts combined in my head to form a meet cute!


Once I had the scenario for the meet cute in my head, I came up with Sam, the kind of doctor who would ring a call button to help, even though she doesn’t really remember much about emergency medicine, and Grant, the kind of doctor who will help someone in over their head.


Sam has this sort of can-do attitude and she really believes that she can just dig a little deep, or work a little harder and solve the world’s problems. She dreams big. Grant is more even-keeled. He is a realist, but under that hard candy shell is a big sweetheart with a sense of humor.

Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I researched so many things for this book! The obvious one is how medicine actually works. Everyone gets glimpses of it, but being on one side of a medical event like pregnancy, and being a medical and birth work professional is totally different.


I also made it a point to either read, watch, or talk to someone new every single week that I was writing to try and make sure I got the details right. I’m sure there are still things I missed, but I wouldn’t have been anywhere close to right about anything without that help. I am deeply grateful to all of the professionals who shared their expertise with me.


The thing you'd be surprised I researched include the weird ice creams that Sam is obsessed with. Since I was writing this during the pandemic, I made it my mission to get out of the house once a week and try each of those weird flavors (and some that didn’t make it into the book). Being a writer just requires so much sacrifice, luckily I was up for it. Ha!


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Sam and her family?


A: It’s funny, my first two books have this really quirky but loving family dynamic. For this book, I wanted to explore the flip side of that, as well as the family we build when our own just ain’t cuttin’ it.


With Sam’s immediate family, she has a difficult mother who is hypercritical, self-centered, and manipulative. Even with her brother loving and supporting her, Sam often feels on uneven ground with her family. Part of her journey is learning some healthy boundaries and advocating for herself.


As dysfunctional as her biological familial relationship feels is as stable and loving as her chosen family relationships are. I love her friends, Duke and Jehan, so much. They are steady, quirky and have her back in that way that only good friends can–encouraging her most far-fetched ideas and offering strength and tough love when she’s wrong.


I’m lucky to have some of those friendships in my own life, and I wish everyone that same level of besties.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Honestly, the book seemed like such a far out pitch that I was convinced my editor would turn it down, so I gave it an off the cuff, boring title. When she wanted the book, I wrote it and turned it in under that title.


It was only at the end of our initial editorial meeting that I said, “How do you all feel about the title?” Turned out that all of us thought it could be better, so we started brainstorming things that sounded like doctors and romances, and that's how Anatomy of a Meet Cute was born!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m just putting the finishing touches on my first young adult novel, The Homecoming War. I wasn’t sure how I’d like writing YA, but I loved writing this!


It's such a fun book about two rival class presidents who have to find a way to make their classmates work together when plunging enrollment forces their schools to merge. It’s got pranks, vintage shopping, and an epic reference to roller skating that I’m now obsessed with. It doesn't come out until October, but I am already excited for people to read this one!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Fun fact: When I’m stuck, I’ll write to music to kick myself into gear. Megan Thee Stallion powered through more than one scene. Ha!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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