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Q&A with Suzanne Nugent, Author of Brunch and Other Obligations

Q&A with Suzanne Nugent, Author of Brunch and Other Obligations

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Suzanne Nugent is the author of Brunch and Other Obligations, which will publish on May 5th. 

Suzanne Nugent is a writer committed to exploring women’s lives and relationships through poignant comedy (or funny drama, depending on your level of optimism).

She was shortlisted for the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and has received accolades from the Denver Film Festival and the San Francisco Writers Conference. She holds a dual degree in journalism and film from UMass Amherst and studied screenwriting at UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Brunch and Other Obligations is her first novel. Here’s the synopsis: 

The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched frenemies have brunch together every month for a year.

Filled with heartwrenching scenes and witty prose, Brunch and Other Obligations explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. This upbeat novel reminds readers that there’s hope for getting through the hard times in life―with a lot of patience, humor, and a standing brunch date.

Get to know Suzanne with the below Q&A where she talks favorite novels, inspiration behind her novel, contact information for book clubs and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

I love stories that explore the heartbreak in women’s lives through an endearingly funny narrative voice:

The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells; Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

In elementary school, writing was a natural way for me to process my own emotions. But one day, I showed one of my poems to my teacher and she cried. An adult! An adult cried because of something I wrote. That’s when it occurred to me how powerful writing can be when it’s shared.

Of course, I quickly started using that writing power to make my friends laugh in class — passing notes and getting in trouble for being disruptive.

But anyway, that’s it. If I can make someone laugh and cry (and maybe cause a disruption?) by telling stories — yup, count me in. That’s the job for me.

When did you decide to start writing novels? How does writing a novel differ from writing a screenplay?

The story and characters for Brunch and Other Obligations were kicking around with me for many years and it always felt like it had to be a novel.

Telling this story in a longer format gave me the chance to explore this experience of loss through three different character’s arcs and points of view. I wanted their vulnerability to be revealed from the beginning so readers would love them right away, just as their best friend had.

Still, I wrote in a present omniscient narration to maintain a cinematic feel. Novel writing and screenwriting differ in a million technical ways, but at the core, they’re very much the same. It’s all about story.

What inspired you to write Brunch and Other Obligations

I was having brunch with friends and seated next to us, there was a group of women who were having absolutely no fun at all. They were silent and looked like they did not want to be there. Brunch is a totally unnecessary, indulgent meal. It’s really for lingering, catching up, or celebrating, but what if you weren’t up for that? I love having brunch with my friends, but that day, I thought: What if I didn’t? Why would anyone go to brunch with people they didn’t like?

A few years before that, I had tagged along with my friend as she was meeting her high school best friend’s college best friend. One of those “oh, you all live in the same city, you should meet,” sort of blind dates with friends. It was an awkward, tension-filled dinner, and I was just a spectator taking notes in my head. How did these people end up with the same best friend?

It really stuck with me. I have many lifelong friends and they really love each other, but that experience made me think: What if they didn’t? What if my best friends didn’t like each other at all?

What do you hope are some of the key takeaways?

I hope that readers of Brunch and Other Obligations are reminded that there is hope in a time of grief, that unlikely friendships can form in a time of chaos, and that there can be laughter in a time of sadness.

Book Club Chat is all about the book clubs what’s the best way for book clubs to reach out to you to arrange a visit?

This story about the complicated dynamics of women’s friendships and the turbulent nature of grief can bring up a lot of insightful conversations. I’d love to be part of that with book clubs. 

I can join the discussion about Brunch and Other Obligations virtually through most online group meeting platforms. I also offer discussion guides and prerecorded greetings for Book Clubs who prefer to be offline.

There’s a form on my site that makes it easy to lock in a time and format that works for each book club:

Click here to order Brunch and Other Obligations on Amazon.