If you loved “Big Little Lies” and “Little Fires Everywhere,” then “Girls With Bright Futures” should be next on your list.
Writing duo Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman will discuss their debut novel “Girls With Bright Futures” during a virtual gathering of the Northwest Passages Book Club moderated by Kristi Burns at 7 p.m. Thursday. Registration for the event is free.
When longtime friends Dobmeier and Katzman formed their writing partnership a few years ago, neither had done any fiction writing. Nevertheless, they knew that be it starting a business, creating a board game, building an app or, indeed, writing a book together, collaboration was inevitable.
“We were all over the place, but, at the bottom of it all, we just wanted to better understand the context of the world we were living in and the culture of motherhood today, all of its rewards and privileges, but also the judgment and toxic self-doubt that often plagues women and mothers, I think in particular, in this modern era,” Dobmeier said.
Irreverent and suspenseful, “Girls With Bright Futures” explores the way these phenomena unfold in an elite Seattle community as a group of mothers becomes embroiled in their very own college admissions scandal.
Writing together has been “a dream come true,” Dobmeier said, explaining how their uncommon ability to finish each other’s sentences became especially useful when it came time to write the book.
The inspiration for “Girls With Bright Futures” came to them when Dobmeier’s kids were first entering “the college pipeline.”
“We were processing what this college admissions insanity was doing to our kids, to our families, to our friendships, to our communities,” Katzman said.
Finding a publisher went relatively quickly. There were several rejections initially, but every rejection brought a round of improvements until suddenly they had three offers at once.
“We learned a lot along the way,” Dobmeier said, explaining how neither she nor Katzman had taken a creative writing course before starting the project.
Dobmeier’s work as a lawyer and Katzman’s as a marketing executive meant that they had plenty of writing experience outside fiction. But they knew novel writing would be a new animal altogether.
“In the beginning, we were quite insecure about it,” Dobmeier said. “We had to learn a whole new skill, and even though we were lifelong readers of fiction, that doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to write it.”
Eventually, they decided to dive in and give it a go with a little encouragement from Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly.”
“That gave us the courage to just get in the arena and try, which was basically what we’ve been telling our kids all along, right?” Katzman said. “That you’ve got to have the courage to try new things and take risks. And, well, we needed to do that, too.”
To aspiring authors and potential writing duos, Dobmeier and Katzman offered the following advice.
“Be a voracious reader and try to understand the craft,” Dobmeier said. “As you’re studying, read for dialogue some days, read for plot some days, read for structure, read for atmosphere and then compare notes.”
“Identify your strengths, then try to divide things up to really leverage those strengths,” Katzman said.
“Believe in yourself and in your team; know that there are going to be good days and bad days, weeks or months, where one of you may have to be picking the other one up, and that’s OK,” Dobmeier said. “You can’t get into thinking everything’s going to be 50/50.”
“Girls With Bright Futures” is available at Auntie’s Bookstore.
For information, visit dobmeierkatzman.com.
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