Thursday 5 February 2015

Laura Vanderkam - "The Cortlandt Boys"

Laura Vanderkam
I reviewed one of Laura Vanderkam's books called "The Cortlandt Boys". I asked her some questions and these are her answers:

1) What inspired you to write "The Cortlandt Boys"?
The basketball team at my first high school in Indiana won the state championship while I was there. Then, ten years later, the local newspaper wrote a “where are they now?” type story. Some of the boys were successful -- a few played in the NBA -- but others lived quieter lives. I started wondering what life would be like when the biggest thing to happen to you happened when you were 17 years old. The characters are completely different, and the town of Cortlandt bears no resemblance to the more mid-sized Hoosier town I lived in, but that’s where the germ of an idea came from.

2) What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I’m pretty efficient at writing drafts. But the edits on The Cortlandt Boys took a long time. I’d put the book away for a few months, then come back to it and see new things that would make it better. Then, after I thought it was as good as I could make it, I hired some professional editors to work on it. They in turn found other things that could be changed. The hardest part of writing this book was learning to trust the process. Eventually, a book will get better, even if you can’t see quite how to get there in the beginning.

3) What is your working (writing) schedule?
When things are going well, I get up before my kids and put in 30 minutes or so of getting organized for the day. I have breakfast with them, then sit down at my computer a few minutes after 8 a.m. I use the first few hours of the day to crank out rough drafts of articles or book chapters. I let myself return emails, make phone calls, and deal with scheduling matters after 10:30 a.m. or so. I break for lunch, then use the afternoon for editing and more phone calls, research, or writing easier things (like blog posts). I go for a run at some point in the afternoon, and break for the evening at 5:30 p.m. After dinner and family time, I might go back to work for another hour or so before bed. Of course, all this is in flux right now because I had another baby in January, so my schedule is dictated by my newborn’s. But eventually, I’ll get back to my old routines.

4) What would your reaction be if you were in the team with the Cortlandt Boys? Would you be stuck in the past like the rest of the boys?
I like to think I wouldn’t be, but I never had anything so big and life-changing happen to me in high school. Sometimes I lament that nothing else is as big as sports in many towns, but the upside of having different interests is that you can make your own way later on without the same baggage. The Cortlandt Boys did accomplish something amazing, but we live a good many years after high school. Like my heroine, Max, I’m glad I have something I’m still striving for.

5) What are you working on now? What is your next project?
My next non-fiction book, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most Of Their Time (, will be published by Penguin Random House on June 9th. This book is based on time diaries from 1001 days in the lives of professional women and their families. I look at how people who have it all really make life work. While the edits are mostly done, I look forward to promoting the book and sharing it with as big an audience as possible over the next year.

Don't forget to check out her book "The Cortlandt Boys". I have a review of it here

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