On Second Thought: A Novel is now available wherever books are sold! Check out our exclusive interview with New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins.
What inspired you to write a novel focusing on the complex relationship between sisters?
Sisters can be our best friends, worst enemies, fiercest competitors…. I think it’s one of the most interesting relationships a person can have (and yes, I have a sister…the best friend kind!). No one can bug you as much as your sister, no one can make you laugh as hard, and no one understands you as much as someone who shared your childhood.
I loved mucking up this pair of sisters—they have an unusual set-up because they have different mothers, but were raised in the same household after a brief separation. It made for a complicated dynamic, as you say, which always makes things more interesting.
How does Nathan’s death change Kate’s perception of her life?
In a lot of ways, I think Kate was trying to live a simple, conflict-free life. Her parents didn’t have the best marriage, and she’s one of those people who really enjoys solitude. She’s just getting used to the idea of being married when Nathan dies, and all of a sudden, she has this unwanted role to fill—widow of a man universally adored. She’s never felt more out of place; she moved to his hometown when they got married, moved her business, doesn’t even have her own furniture in his house yet. She’s lost, and what she finds out is who’s really there for her when the chips are down. She was once so in control and so capable, and is now reliant on others to help and comfort her, and it’s not the easiest adjustment for someone who was so private in her old life.
As the sisters come to terms with their new normal, how does their relationship change?
Well, they live together for the first time in a couple of decades, so there’s that. There’s a new, strange intimacy between them that wasn’t preceded by the closeness that some sisters have. They kind of take turns being the one who’s suffering, and being able to help the other gives them each a sense of usefulness. As the weeks pass, I think they both realize how much they love each other…even more, now that the poop has hit the fan in both their lives.
What personal advice are you able to share with moms who are facing similar challenges while trying to cope with the stressors of modern motherhood?
Oh, what a great question! My kids are older now—21 and 18—but, heck yeah, we live in a busy world. My best advice would be lots and lots of hugs and snuggles, and to really focus on your kids when they’re in your presence. Close the laptop, put the phone on silent, and listen. Another thing…follow through. It’s so easy to get tired of being consistent and firm and doing what you said you were going to do, whether it’s read that extra story at bedtime or take away your kid’s phone because he used your entire data plan in half an hour. But it does work, just like good old Dr. Spock told us it would. Especially the hugs and snuggles part.
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