Guest Blog: The Author of The First Husband On The Search for a Place Called Home (Plus: Win a Copy of Her Book!)

April 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm , by

Laura Dave, whose wonderful piece about her chronic sleeplessness appears in the current issue of LHJ, is a California-based writer whose third novel, the critically and popularly acclaimed The First Husband, arrives in bookstores in paperback tomorrow (April 24). Here, Dave tells us how she came to write what USA Today called a “playful, unpredictable and emotionally resonant” story about Annie Adams, a conflicted young career woman who finds herself torn between two wildly different men and two equally different lifestyles.

Bonus: Be one of 20 lucky readers who will win a hot-off-the-presses copy of The First Husband! Leave a comment on this post to enter.


I began writing The First Husband almost by accident. I was knee-deep in a different novel that took place in Big Sur, California. That novel was about fathers and daughters. Or, I should say, it started out as a novel about fathers and daughters. But the book had turned out to be about many disparate things including the American west, identity theft, and broken hearts. All of which is to say that the deeper I got into the writing of that book, the further away I seemed to be moving from why I’d wanted to write it.

So, almost surreptitiously, I opened a new document. I didn’t tell myself I was starting a new book—how could I? I told myself I was just writing one scene, which kept coming to me: a woman sitting on her couch in her house, right before her longtime boyfriend walks in and changes everything in her life.

I immediately felt for this character, even thought I knew very little about her at first: Just her name (Annie Adams), what she did for a living (she wrote a travel column called Checking Out) and what she truly wanted out of life—even if she didn’t know it yet. This thing she wanted? After all of her travels, it was a place of her own. A place to call home.

I once had a writing teacher who wisely said, “We write about the things we are trying to figure out. The things that elude us.” Perhaps I connected to Annie and The First Husband right from the start because I was certain what eluded her—what I wanted to help her find. In many ways, it reminded me of the very question that had long eluded me: In a world that is obsessed with reinvention and exploration—where we routinely seek cities and spouses and careers far from where we started—how do we commit to staying still and building something that lasts?

The plot of The First Husband is fictionalized, but so much of the emotional life of the book comes from my seeking an answer to that question—and from an old-fashioned desire to do the hard and important work of building a family, a home, and a life that matters.

Perhaps that’s why The First Husband was so rewarding to write, especially after trying to manage the different agendas of my Big Sur novel.  By focusing in on a singular emotional question, one that so many people I knew were wrestling with in their own lives, I was able not only to construct a narrative I found entertaining, but also to work through this question for myself. And I was reminded that, for me, the process of writing a novel, at its most satisfying, is not only about helping your characters find where they need to go, it’s also about helping the people you love do the same thing.


Watch Laura Dave’s exchange with fellow novelist Jonathan Tropper about the art of writing blurbs for other writers’ books.

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Photo of Laura Dave: Angie Smith

54 Responses to “Guest Blog: The Author of The First Husband On The Search for a Place Called Home (Plus: Win a Copy of Her Book!)”

  1. This sounds like a wonderful read

  2. the blog ws really interesting I would love to read the book!

  3. I would love to win this book, I am a devoted book reader and also an insommniac.

  4. Read First Husband, can’t wait for something new.

  5. Hi. Love to read and this book sounds sooooo interesting. Thank you!

  6. This book sounds great. Thank you for doing a giveaway (wish me luck!)

  7. Sounds really interesting!

  8. Love reading and this sounds like a book I would enjoy.

  9. The book sounds wonderful! I am quite an avid reader, and would love to add it to my collection! Thanks for the chance to win!

  10. Wow! It sounds like a very interesting book. I would love to get to know Annie Adams. Maybe Soon!

  11. Thank you for the fun contest! this book looks great! xo

  12. Since I feel like this is the question of my life right now, I personally can’t wait to read this book! Is the character trying to reinvent herself, find herself and realizing that she doesn’t even know who she is??

  13. this sounds like a very interesting book!

  14. Sounds great!

  15. I love reading about authors and how they come about their stories. This was a good outcome to not staying on task! I wonder, did you go back to “Big Sur book”?

  16. I look forward to reading the story.

  17. I want to read this book! It sounds intriguing. Interesting how a second book was born in the midst of writing another.

  18. How endearing. I’m totally intrigued by the author and her comments. I’d love to read this book.

  19. I could use a new book to curl up with on this cold day.

  20. I would love to check out this book!

  21. from the excerpt it sounds like I could relate to the story. Sounds good.

  22. Sounds very interesting, I think we are all looking for something throughout our time on Earth.

  23. It sounds like a good book! I would love to read it. I’m always interested in the different styles of other authors. I also am a writer, of a monthly column for a local magazine and a weekly column for an independent newspaper. It sounds very interesting!

  24. I love the story of how this book came to be. I’ve added it to my wish list so, even if I don’t win a free one, I’ll still be reading it eventually.

  25. I am always searching for something new to read, this grabbed my interest. Thanks!

  26. Sounds like a great read!

  27. I can relate to the premise of this book. I am always seaching for my niche, my soulmate, my purpose. I would love to read the book and see how the character evolves.

  28. Sounds like a great book! I love that you provided the author’s perspective in this blog.

  29. Loved The First Husband! Laura Dave is an excellent author–love, love, love her work!

  30. Thanks for doing a give away! Good luck to all who enter :)

  31. Sounds like a good book.

  32. I need a new book!

  33. This book sounds SO SO SO GOOD! And I might be a bit biased because I’m a HUGE HUGE chicklit fan!

  34. I love love Laura Dave! And this has been on my reading list ever since I heard about it. Note I’m a huge huge chicklit fan so I might be a bit biased here :)

  35. I can relate to so many of her struggles at a gut level…this would be an awesome book to cuddle up with…whilst pondering the meaning of “home”…please let me win!

  36. Need a good book to read and I know Laura will deliver! Congrats Laura!

  37. I can’t wait to read this one…(-:

  38. I’ve read so many great reviews of this book. Can’t wait to read it!

  39. My book club would love to read this and discuss it at our next meeting. Would love to win a copy.

  40. Looks like a great read!

  41. I would LOVE a copy of this book – it sounds wonderful! Thank you, Cathy

  42. The blog is awesome and I would love to read this book. I’m always looking for new authors to read up on … please pick me!!

  43. This book would be a real treasure to will. I sure hope I will be one of the winners. Thank You.

  44. Wow, this sounds fascinating~ Added to my “must read” list.

  45. Laura Dave is truly amazing! You feel like by the end of the book, that you truly know who her characters are and you are rooting for them to succeed!!!

  46. It sounds like another good book to read & then share with other readers.

  47. Sounds like a good story can wait to read the book,hope I win one of her signed books…

  48. Would love to read this on my upcoming vacation at the beach ! Looks like a fun read !!

  49. Sounds like a great book!

  50. I’m excited! I have been looking for a new author to follow – looks like I have found one. Loved your interview!

  51. I am not a big reader,however this book really intrigues me. I really want to focus my thoughts on something other than my tumor…

  52. Heard this book was great! Looking forward to reading it

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