A Discussion with Lisa Daily, author of Fifteen Minutes of Shame
Darby Vaughn is a relationship expert like yourself. What inspired you to write her story?
The week before my dating advice book, Stop Getting Dumped! was first published, a very prominent dating expert was going through a very public divorce, and she was really taking a lot of heat in the media. At the time, my husband and I had just been married a few years—I remember thinking how awful it would be to go through one of the most difficult times in your life with the entire world watching—and the idea for Fifteen Minutes of Shame was born.
As I was developing the story, a lot of the funniest scenes dealt with the world of television—the disparity between how something (and some people) look on TV, versus in real life, has always been hilarious to me.
Your previous book, Stop Getting Dumped!, is a guide on dating and relationships—topics that are part of the plotline and the characters in Fifteen Minutes of Shame. What did the fictional form allow you to do that Stop Getting Dumped! did not?
Well, mostly, it allowed me to make stuff up, instead of doing all that pesky research. I've been writing non-fiction in one form or another for my entire career, and the process of writing a novel was different, scary, exhilarating, emotional, hilarious—an amazing experience. Also, instead of merely telling my readers how to find the perfect man, I got to create one from scratch.
Throughout the book you include dating tips from Darby's Dreamgirl Academy and advice columns, which humorously punctuate scenes and create conflicts, as Darby ends up questioning her own advice on cheaters. Do you feel that the dating advice Darby gives fictionally can be used in real life? What do you hope readers will take away from these tips?
Absolutely the relationship tips in the book can be used in real life. In fact, many of the tips are taken from advice I've given on television or in my advice column. What I hope readers will take away is that sometimes you know the smart thing to do but want to do the crazy thing and follow your heart anyway. I also loved the idea of showing that even when you do everything right, sometimes things don't turn out the way you plan, and that's okay.
Your novel uniquely explores the positive relationship Darby developed with her stepchildren and how their father's divorce affected them. Why did you decide to address the issue of step-parenthood and make it a key part of the storyline?
Oddly enough, it didn't start out that way. In the concept stage, the children were a plot device—a way to add more challenge to Darby's life, and solve a particular scenario. In writing her character and the story, the children became more and more central to Darby's story, I think it sort of snuck up on her (and me) much in the way stepchildren do in real life. Many women think of stepchildren as a lovely part of a package deal that comes with their future husband, but anyone who lives with children knows that they are (or will become) the center of the family. After a few dozen rounds of science projects and chicken pox and necklaces made out of macaroni, a step-mom wakes up one day and realizes that the children have cemented themselves to her heart—and in those moments when she's holding the barf bucket at 2 am, or digging through the junk drawer for the makings of a pirate costume for tomorrow morning—a step-mom feels like a real mom.
I also loved the idea of plopping this fabulous single girl Darby right into the middle of suburbia, the kind of place where mothering is a competitive sport, with no preparation and a husband who carries her over the threshold, hands her the keys to the minivan and then takes off for two weeks on a business trip.
Read Lisa Daily's previous book: