Monday, July 17, 2023

Q&A with Leigh McMullan Abramson


Photo by Deborah Feingold



Leigh McMullan Abramson is the author of the new novel A Likely Story. She has worked as a lawyer and a journalist, and she lives in New York City and Vermont.


Q: What inspired you to write A Likely Story, and how did you create the Manning family?


A: I wanted to write about a family where each member had artistic ambitions, but those ambitions were impacted by their roles in the family. I've always been interested in children of the very famous and what a complicated role that is to play.


Growing up, my parents were artists and writers, and while the Mannings are certainly not my parents, I did borrow certain traits from adults I met in my parents' circle that really stuck with me as I observed them growing up. 


Q: The Kirkus review of the novel says, in part, “In a novel largely about the creation of novels, McMullan Abramson avoids the pitfalls of jargony writing for the in-crowd and instead crafts a universal story about family, dreams, and the stories that linger long after we are gone.” What do you think of that description?


A: I was actually so happy when I read this particular line because I do think that this is a story about family that I hope transcends the exact circumstances of the Mannings, who exist in a very privileged and rarified world.


Isabelle in particular is really struggling to find acceptance and respect from her father. In her case, she believes this will come from publishing a book, but this desire to please our parents is something we can all relate to. 


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 had a sense of how things would wind up, but certainly there were twists and ideas that came to me in the writing process. To me the best part of writing is when after weeks (or years!) slogging away, something clicks and you can see clearly how it's all supposed to go. It’s usually only with many, many frustrating days that this happens.


I did know that I wanted the end to feel satisfying without tying everything up in a bow. I will never leave a reader with an entirely sad or an ambiguous ending because who needs that?


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


A: The book originally had a different title, but I love this one. To me it's about the stories underneath the story. We often believe the most obvious story is the right one. But not always. And there are many places in this book where what’s actually happening is not what it seems on the surface. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on a new book and very excited about it. I had a few false starts but I am very happy with the direction I am going in now. It also takes place in New York and it involves a private library and a love story. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thanks so much for checking out A Likely Story. I hope you enjoy it and pass the word to friends if you do!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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