As a storyteller who weaves life’s most compelling moments into tall tales, celebrated author Yona Zeldis McDonough brings forth another novel to add to her growing collection. A Wedding in Great Neck is her latest written creation. I chatted with McDonough on her inspiration for this book, her writing process and ideas for readers to take this book into their own book clubs.
Q. A Wedding in Great Neck is a very interesting concept of a single day. How did you come up with this idea for your story?
A. I had recently read—and was very impressed by—two other books that took place in a single day. One was the masterpiece Saturday, by Ian McEwan, which I thought was truly epic in its scope and depth. The other was Helen Schulman’s A Day At the Beach. I was intrigued by the formal problems posed by creating a novel whose story unfolded in a day and I thought a wedding would offer a strong enough armature on which to base a plot structure of that kind.
Q. You are a great story teller. Do you use your own life or parts of it to create these stories?
A. I always use bits and pieces of my own experience but the story does not conform to the arc of my own life. It’s more of a mix and match kind of process.
Q. Was this book a challenge or did the story come easy for you? It’s such a unique idea for a book.
A. The idea came easily but the working it out took some fine tuning. I kept looking for ways to create drama in what could have been a very static situation. Stasis, in a novel, is not a good thing. You want action, energy, movement, propulsion. How to do that in a book of this kind? I opted for multiple points of view and various familial conflicts and misunderstandings to create the drama.
Q. What is your favorite scene?
A. I am partial to the scenes with the dog. I have three Pomeranians and all I can say is that it’s a good thing none of them can read or I might find myself slapped with a lawsuit!
A. Great Neck is for me—and for at least three of the characters in this novel—an aspirational place. It speaks of money, privilege and ease, things that some of the characters strive for and others outright reject. There is also the reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald and the The Great Gatsby that appealed to me.
Q. This is a great book for a women’s book club. To flip the tables, what is something you’d like to ask women who’ve read your book?
A. I’d like to ask who was their favorite character; I know mine, but would be curious to see if that is mirrored elsewhere.
For more information on McDonough and her book tour dates, visit her website.