Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was on her way to meet her family for brunch in New York when she had an idea for the opening scene of her debut novel, The Nest.
Sweeney imagined family members “all needing to meet but all needing a drink before they met and all getting their drink in proximity to each other without knowing that they were all doing the same thing,” she said in a recent phone interview from her home in Los Angeles.
She was intrigued by why they needed to drink before seeing one another and what the meeting was about.
As for The Nest, Sweeney said she’s surprised by “how little I had to know going in. I wrote my way along. When I would start to panic, I would just remind myself that I only had to figure out what happened in the next chapter, what happened in the next scene. I didn’t have to be looking way, way down the road. What surprised me is when you take that incremental approach, you do reach a tipping point where all of a sudden things start to come together.”
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As Sweeney found her story, she also found a lot of interest from the publishing world.
The Nest, published Tuesday, was snapped up in a seven-figure deal by Ecco, a HarperCollins imprint.
A book trailer featuring actress Ellie Kemper and Transparent creator Jill Soloway talking about their own families is available online.
Amy Poehler praises the book as “intoxicating,” in a quote on the front cover of The Nest.
“She’s been a friend of mine for a long time. I’m really, really lucky,” Sweeney said.
“Amy and I met right after she moved to New York, and in fact, we met in a book club. It was very short-lived. It was a lot of performers in the comedy improv world, so everyone was always canceling at the last minute. Finally it was like, ‘Why don’t we go out for cocktails instead? Forget the book part.’”
Sweeney said one of the oddest things for her has been all the talk about the book before its publication date. “My family members are really confused. I keep getting emails like, ‘How are there reviews on Amazon? When can we get the book?’ ”
Meanwhile, she has put off conversation about The Nest being adapted for film because she finds it distracting.
“I hadn’t even finished the revisions on the book, and people wanted to talk about changing the book or how if it were a TV series, what would the next season be?”
So why does she think people are so interested in the novel?
“The combination of family and money is very potent and it really, really seems to strike a chord with people.”