Love and infidelity … and writing will be topics of discussion in Winnetka on April 10, when Courtney Maum, author of the debut novel I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You will visit The Book Stall At Chestnut Court. Maum’s novel is a reverse love story set in Paris and London about a cheating husband who attempts to win back his wife.
The book debuted last June and Maum is embarking on a cross-country book tour to promote the paperback release. While this may be Maum’s first official book tour, she has plenty of experience reading her work in front of an audience.
Maum was still struggling to publish her writing, when she took a temporary job for a branding agency in New York City and resolved to attend a literary reading three nights a week. The commitment forced her out of her comfort zone, and ultimately allowed her the opportunity to meet other writers and the very editors who had rejected her work. Over time, Maum began reading her own work at the meetings and started publishing her writing.
The experience was transforming. In her own words, it “kick started my career.” She realized she was fond of speaking in public and “started feeling like a professional writer.” Speaking before an audience also helped Maum develop her humorist voice. Observing that “people light up when you throw some humor their way,” she began weaving humor into her writing and found it easier to tackle darker subject matter.
But the path from struggling writer to published author wasn’t easy. She first wrote I Am Having So Much Fun 10 years ago while living in France right after college. While a literary agent and editor were initially interested, the project fell through and the manuscript was tucked away in a closet. When a project Maum was working on with her current agent didn’t work out, her agent asked if there was anything else. Maum pulled out the 10-year-old manuscript. Her agent read it and decided it was her debut novel.
Maum was far from excited about the prospect. “I was dead set against picking it up again,” she said. The initial rejection was heartbreaking and it was challenging to work on the project again. Instead of revising the original manuscript, Maum decided to use the same story line but re-wrote the entire book.
“[I had] matured a lot as a writer but most importantly as a person,” explained Maum. Since her first draft was written, she had gained experience as a writer but she was also married and pregnant with her first child. “I had a completely different level of compassion for people trying to stay in a long-term relationship,” she said.
But while the road to published author was a struggle at times, Maum always knew she wanted to be a writer. “I always felt it was my calling from a young age,” she said.
Maum benefited from a a very supportive school environment, where her teachers always encouraged her to continue writing. “The teachers made me feel like I had the right to be doing this,” she said.
Maum would create her own books with wallpaper covers and wrote about what happened in her life. She continues to get ideas from observing her environment — “something piques my interest” and she’ll incorporate it into her writing.
Prepare to be entertained at her reading at The Book Stall this Friday. She confessed that “I tend to be too honest and tell pretty embarrassing stories about myself.” Maum plans to interview people about what they have learned about love, using questions the main character asks in the book. She also hopes to get people to write what they’ve learned about love on a notecard and then submit selfies holding up the answers that she will post on social media. As Maum travels the country she hopes to share these “love notes.”
Courtney Maum will be reading from her debut novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You on April 10, 7 pm, at The Book Stall At Chestnut Court, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka.