5 Questions for Westchester Novelist Annabel Monaghan

We caught up with novelist Annabel Monaghan of Rye to ask her some questions about her career and love for writing.

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How could you not want to be besties with a writer who starts her latest novel with the line, “Sometimes you just have to throw s**t in the pantry.”? We’ve had a writing crush on that novelist, Westchester resident Annabel Monaghan, since her columns in The Rye Record, then her book of those columns (Does This Volvo Make My Butt Look Big?) and through her first bestselling novels for adults (Nora Goes Off Script, Same Time Next Summer) from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. And now we are awaiting Monaghan’s third novel, Summer Romance, described as “the heart-tugging story of a professional organizer whose life is a mess,” out early this month.

Prior to switching her attention to their parents, the Los Angeles native had written such successful books for young adults as A Girl Named Digit; she also had a brief stint as an investment banker. The married mother of three sons, ages 18 to 25, she received a degree in English from Duke and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and moved to Rye 19 years ago. Rounding out her family is Apollo, a longhaired little 6-year-old rescue dog of indeterminate origin and the inspiration for the dog in her latest book who sheds “like a flower girl spewing petals down the aisle.” She is currently at work on her fourth novel, to be published in summer 2025. Here are five questions for Monaghan:

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Is there anything that being an investment banker and a novelist have in common?

Certainly, in banking there was lots of drama and intrigue, and a cast of colorful creatures I never could have imagined. Both jobs are hard work, there’s no way around that, no cutting corners. But when you’re writing a novel, the information you need to do your job is inside of you, not outside. I think that’s the part I like best.

 

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Where and when do you write? Do you adhere to a set writing schedule?

I found that during the COVID lockdown I was waking up at 5 a.m., and that’s when I got my best writing done. I like the quiet of my house and the still-sleepiness of my mind. So, I am doing that still; I wake around 5 a.m. and write until my house wakes and requires eggs. Then I write again after I’ve walked my dog and exercised. I write in a little room in the front of my house in an old armchair of my mother’s.

Summer Romance
Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan. Photo courtesy of GP Putnam’s Sons

Is it a dis to call your books quintessential beach reads?

I think…probably? But it’s marketing. My books come out in June, so people are buying books to take to the beach. It wouldn’t be smart to call them ski-slope books. But I think of beach reads as engrossing stories that don’t tax the reader too much. I am writing books like that — I don’t want you to write a book report when you’re done; I just want you to feel good.

What’s the most annoying question you’ve been asked about being a writer and why?

It doesn’t annoy me anymore, because I understand it now, but when Nora Goes Off Script came out, the first question at every event was, ‘Is it going to be a movie?’ And my gut reaction was: ‘I don’t know but I wrote a book! Can you believe that??’ There might be some notion that people write books for them to become movies [and] that’s the end game. Anyway, yes, it’s going to be a movie. But that doesn’t feel as exciting to me as when it became a book.

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What are your favorite places in Westchester?

I think my favorite place in Westchester is Ruby’s Oyster Bar. I walk in there and I feel warm and at home. And I love to go to Rye Town Park and the beach there. In fact, my new novel, Summer Romance, is set right there at the dog park.

Related: 2 Moving Books Written by Westchester Women Authors

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