It’s been almost two weeks since I announced my debut novel, INCONVENIENT DAUGHTER, is forthcoming from Kaylie Jones Books in 2020. After the explosion of comments on my Facebook page and the initial influx of calls and texts from friends and family died down, everything pretty much went back to normal…until this Monday.
I was at peak morning routine—my wet hair in a towel, hands furiously swiping the hangers in my closet to the right, time ticking down—when the phone rang. I cursed myself for switching to silent mode after a series of texts woke me before my alarm.
“Oh my god, where are you?” I screamed, beckoning my phone to reveal itself. “Found you, you little fucker,” I smiled as I wrapped my fingers around and pulled it forth from my pillow.
Not a number I recognize, I thought. Could be freelance.
“Hello?” I half-panted, half-snapped.
“Lauren…hey!” said a familiar voice on the other end. “Congratulations on your book!”
“Thank you,” I softened. “Thanks a lot.”
“Seriously, good for you. I know how hard you’ve worked.”
Where do I know this voice from?
“I’m sorry, who is this?”
“What? Oh, haha,” I know that fucking laugh, “It’s Rich.”
“Rich!” I gasped, attempting to cover myself with the towel I cast onto the floor, as if he could somehow see me, “Hey! How are you?”
“Good, good, you?”
“I’m good.” I am not good. This is awkward AF.
“Good. That’s good.”
Oh my god, get me out of here.
“Uh, how have you been?” he asked.
We chatted about work, family—the people who helped us get over each other—until we arrived at the reason for his phone call.
“So, um, this book…what’s it about?”
I’ve been asked this question literally a hundred times and I still don’t know what to tell people.
“Well, um, it’s a novel and it’s about this girl, Rowan. She’s a Korean American adoptee and she’s, like, struggling with her identity and shit.”
“Wow, that sounds intense.”
“At some points in the book it gets intense, yeah,” I laughed nervously.
“So, it’s like based on you and your life?”
“Rich,” I said, straightening in my chair, suddenly realizing what it is he’s asking, “just ask me.”
“Just ask you what?”
“You’ve seen me naked so just fucking ask me.”
“Am I in your book?”
“The you you are now, or the you you were when we were dating?”
Eventually, I tell Rich the book is fiction and since it is fiction, there is no way he could be in the book. I tell this same thing to Louis and Mike and Devin. I tell this same thing to Jesse who demands a copy of the manuscript before it goes to print and threatens to sue me.
Anne Lammott says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” but it’s not just about that. It’s about the fact that my first date with Jesse doesn’t just belong to me and him. It belongs to the waiter who brought us tacos and the woman who said we looked cute together as he held my hand on the Port Jeff Harbor Walk. Our stories belong to the world.
Then again, all’s fair in love and fiction.
Suck it, Exes.