Come listen to – or watch – Episode 9 of my podcast, 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. Joanna Monahan’s debut novel, Something Better, was released on June 20, 2023. I got to read an advanced copy of this emotional and meaningful book. Joanna agreed to come on today’s show to talk about her book and to tell us a little bit about why she wrote it. Transcript and link to the Spotify podcast episode below. The podcast is also on YouTube (video below).
Episode 9, on Spotify: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/12-minutes-or-less/episodes/Episode-9-Something-Better–An-interview-with-author-Joanna-Monahan-e269c05
This podcast episode is available on YouTube as well. Find it here: https://youtu.be/heQpVjesNks
Here are important links for YOU!
Link to Something Better at Blue Ink Press: https://www.blueinkpress.com/somethingbetter.html
Find Joanna on Instagram: https://instagram.com/joannamonahanauthor
Find Joanna on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Joannamonahanauthor/
The author’s website: https://www.joannamonahan.com/
About Something Better, by Joanna Monahan
It was only a high school reunion. What was the worst that could happen?
Corinne Fuller has regrets. Facing a stagnant marriage and an impending empty nest, she spends her days living halfway between fantasy and reality, imagining herself as the heroine in a true-love-lost fairytale. When she reluctantly agrees to accompany her best friend on a trip to their hometown, an unexpected encounter with ex-boyfriend Nick offers a tempting glimpse of what might have been (and, as Nick makes clear, what could possibly still be).
Back home, Corinne’s world is in tumult. Are the problems she’s having with her husband signs she made the wrong choice? Meanwhile, her daughter begins a serious relationship with the (literal) boy next door, and Corinne can’t help being nostalgic for the excitement and romance of first love.
Corinne must choose between pursuing “what if?” or embracing “what is” in this coming-of-(middle)-age tale of love, family, and the dangers of attending your high school reunion.
Welcome to 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. I’m your host, T.L. Brown, but you can call me Tracy. Let’s get started.
T.L. Brown: Hey there, welcome to 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. I’m your host, Tracy. Today we have an exciting guest. We have author Joanna Monahan, who just released her first book, Something Better. Joanna writes women’s fiction with a GenX flair. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two children, and one hangry cat. When she isn’t writing, Joanna enjoys theater, baseball, and bookmarking recipes she’ll never make.
A child of the 80s, she regrets that she no longer receives pizza coupons in exchange for reading books. You can learn more about Joanna at joannamonahan.com. That link can be found in the podcast description along with her socials.
So, let me show you this beautiful look. Look at this beautiful book! Joanna’s debut women’s fiction novel, Something Better, was just released on June 20th from Blue Ink Press, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Welcome, Joanna. I am so excited to meet you.
Joanna Monahan: So happy to be here to see you and to talk to you after meeting you on Instagram and chatting that way for two years. This is wonderful.
T.L. Brown: Wow! Two years – that’s amazing! It’s gone by like that. Well, I am thrilled that you said yes to joining us. So, let’s get to the really important part of this discussion, which is Something Better. Can you tell us about this “coming of middle age” novel? I received an advanced copy – just so everybody knows. I got to read it before it came out, and this is a meaningful book. This is a special, emotional, and meaningful book. So, I’m sending it over to you. Tell us about your book, Joanna.
Joanna Monahan: Well, like you said, it is what I have been calling a “coming of middle age” tale about love, family, and the dangers of attending your high school reunion. It’s about a wife and mother, Corinne. She is in her 40s, and I like to say that she’s at this crossroads of “what if” and “what next” – this idea of her child is getting ready to go to college…She’s been married for 20 years…She’s been taking care of her mother, who has sadly passed away. Corinne is now sort of left without the things that have defined her for almost 2 decades, and she’s really left wondering: Who am I, and is there something better out there for me?
And then, of course, low and behold, the invitation to her high school reunion shows up. And she thinks that maybe, aha, this is the answer. She goes to her high school reunion, where she hopes – but does not expect to – maybe see the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart in high school, Nick. And when he does show up, that’s sort of where some decisions start to be made, and that’s what she has to deal with the for rest of the book: The repercussions from that reunion.
For me, what I enjoyed about writing this book is that I originally thought I was going to write YA. After writing my first YA manuscript, I realized that that wasn’t where I wanted to live. So, I decided to write a novel for adults, but I still wanted some YA elements. I wanted to set it in a high school setting, so that’s where the idea of the reunion came from. And when I first started, I thought it would be snarkier – I thought maybe even satirical. I like to say that I started out as Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and I ended up as Peggy Sue Got Married.
T.L. Brown: I totally get that that’s. That is an awesome description.
Joanna Monahan: Those are my GenX bonafides, right there. (laughs)
I wrote this during the pandemic. And like I said, I started out wanting to write more broadly comic, and I wasn’t feeling that way. A lot of us were feeling very tender, and it’s so the book that came out is a little quieter, and it’s a little bit more…I think it’s a little more reflective. Hopefully, that’s what people get out of it – this sort of idea of what defines us is the little moments in between the big ones.
T.L. Brown: Oh, that is such a perfect way to put it. And that comes out in Something Better. I’m so glad that you have told us about why you wrote this book, and I have an extra question for you now.
As writers, we do put some of our stuff in – not everything, and you never want to confuse authors with their characters. But because you have such a wonderful GenX voice, and you love the culture – you brought up Romy and Michele… When writing Corinne and bringing her to life with her voice, what parts of you did you add to Corinne?
Joanna Monahan: I do think that she and I have a lot of similarities in that we are both in our 40s. We both have a child who is ready to go off to college. But I told my husband I was going to make him a shirt that says: my wife writes fiction, not memoir!
I did put my viewpoint, not experience, in there as sort of an entry point, but I was very careful. I am from a small Midwestern town, and I was very careful not to use anyone or anything that actually happened because I want to be able to be invited to my own reunion!
Joanna Monahan: I tell people I would only ever use the good, but I will make up all the bad.
T.L. Brown: I think that’s perfect.
Joanna Monahan: The other experience that I bring to it with the GenX is the idea that we were sort of this famously self-governed under-supervised generation. So, I think it’s very interesting to compare being 18 and a GenXer and being in your 40s and still behaving as though you’re 18. There are some very different ramifications of that. I thought it was a lot of fun to explore in this book.
T.L. Brown: And I think you did a great job and you make a great point – and earmark that for a future interview. I want to talk to you about that. I definitely want to explore that. Tell me, tell us, tell listeners and viewers…What is coming next from Joanna Monahan?
Joanna Monahan: I am working currently on my second women’s fiction novel. It’s called Welcome to Blooms. And it’s about career-driven, Daisy Bloom, who has to team up with her slacker brother Bud, to save the family flower shop. I tell people if you are a fan of Schitt’s Creek, if you are a fan of My Big Fat Greek Wedding… This is kind of a family comedy, and I’m having a great time with this.
T.L. Brown: That sounds very timely, and I know you teased out a few things on social media. Please earmark me as an advanced reader. I would love to read it.
Well, we’ve come to the end of our show today. I want to thank you for joining me, and I want to tell people where to get this book. You can go to BlueInkPress.com/SomethingBetter.html – that will be in the podcast description so you can click right there. Joanna is on Instagram and Facebook social media channels, and those links will be there as well. Follow her, like her, share her.
Thank you, Joanna, for joining us. It was so nice to meet you, and I can’t wait to see what you release next.
Joanna Monahan: Thank you so much. This has been just wonderful – so happy we could do this.
T.L. Brown: Alrighty. Thank you, listeners. Catch you next time.
This has been 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. Thanks for listening to today’s episode. Hope you can join me for the next one. Until then, this is Tracy, AKA author T.L. Brown signing off.