I broke my promise to my wife: The origin story of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

The paperback edition of my fourth novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, is finally out! If you didn't have an opportunity to read the hardcover, now is the time to purchase the paperback with it's brand new cover.

Order online or purchase in your local bookstore. And if your bookstore isn't carrying the paperback, please be so kind as to request it. When readers ask booksellers to stock a book, it makes a difference. 

The origins of the book are interesting, and they include a broken promise to my wife.

Years ago, Elysha and I were lying in bed, talking about our childhoods, when Elysha told me about small but apparently memorable moment of cruelty. A friend was sleeping over her house, lying beside her bed in a sleeping bag, when she said, "Emily Kaplan's bathroom is bigger than your whole bedroom."

The words were probably not meant to be mean, and they certainly aren't excessively cruel by any standards, and if you ask Elysha today, she will adamantly report that this was no big deal.

Except it was a big enough deal for her to remember the moment more than 20 years later. So it was something...

I said, "Wouldn't it by nice to find that girl and say the things you wish you had said that day?"

Truthfully, Elysha didn't feel the compulsion for revenge, but I knew that many people would feel differently. I knew that there were lots of people who would love to find their schoolyard bully as adults and really let them have it. "That would make a good book," I said, lying beside her in the dark. "Don't you think? A girl who is bullied in high school goes back to her hometown, finds her bully, and says the things she's always wanted to say."

"Sure," Elysha said, wanting to go to sleep.

I agreed. I added it to my list of book ideas, and years later, I wrote that book.

As I was writing the book, I chose the name Emily Kaplan for Caroline's bully in honor of the book's origin story. When Elysha began reading the manuscript, she asked that I change the name, particularly because Emily Kaplan had done nothing wrong in her childhood story except live in a home with a large bathroom.  

I agreed. I promised I would. Then I didn't. As I continued to write, Emily Kaplan became Emily Kaplan, and eventually it became impossible to change the name because she had become real in my mind.

As real as any other character who I have created. 

I didn't tell Elysha about my failure to change the name until the book was in production, at which point the change would have been impossible. 

She was rightfully annoyed. Not angry, but not pleased, either. It might be the only promise I have ever broken to her. 

But it was done in the noble pursuit of literature, and that makes it okay. Right?