Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Author Katrina Onstad: Everybody Has Everything and A Giveaway

My guest today has been called "the working woman's Nick Hornby" by The Globe and Mail. I’m thrilled to welcome author Katrina Onstad here to talk about her new release, EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING.

Katrina balances tragedy and comedy to deftly explore modern relationships at their messiest and most tender in this whip-smart dissection of contemporary urban life. Thanks to Katrina and the delightful Tracy @ Grand Central Publishing, I have an awesome giveaway to share with you. Be sure to read the end of the post for details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING:

    After years of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a child, Ana and James become parents overnight, when a terrible accident makes them guardians to 2-year-old Finn. Suddenly, two people who were struggling to come to terms with childlessness are thrust into the opposite situation-responsible for a small toddler whose mother's survival is in question.
    Finn's crash-landing in their tidy, urban lives throws into high relief some troubling truths about their deepest selves, both separately and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often unasked question: Can everyone be a parent?

EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING just received a starred review from Library Journal (6/15 issue), which calls it “crisp, gripping, and deeply thought-provoking . . . With concise, elegant prose, the author presents an audacious look at a question no one is supposed to ask, namely, can everyone be parents? Or, more important, should they? Book clubs will find much to captivate them, as will fans of highbrow issue-driven fiction in the vein of Anita Shreve and Wally Lamb.” 

Now here’s Katrina to talk about her book.

Having babies made me obsessed with death. I know it’s grim, and counter-intuitive, but that dark fixation was the starting line for my book EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING.

I had my two kids very close together, and was trapped in a post-natal haze for about three years. During that time, I had daily emotional windstorms, blown one way by this new, most profound love, and the other way by doubt about mothering and fear for my halted career. 

But mostly, and instantly, I was painfully aware of my kids’ vulnerability in the world. Mortality was no longer an abstract, but ever present; a looming threat. My great new appreciation of life brought with it an awareness of death, too, as if existence could be snatched away at any moment.

From there, my mind wandered – as all new parents’ minds do, I suspect – toward the What-if? scenarios: What if something happens to the kids, or to us? Who would take care of them? In my grim, sleep-deprived mental whorl, I imagined them orphaned,onstad.everybodyhaseverything.tr ending up with random strangers. I’d meet a sullen hipster barista and think: What if she gets to be M’s mom? I was losing it a little, perhaps.

And then, almost instantaneously, two characters arrived in my head, fully formed: Ana and James, a professional, urban couple that had been trying to have kids, unsuccessfully. What if people like this – slightly oblivious to their damage, but ultimately kind – suddenly became parents, without warning? 

From that point, everything else fell into place. The plot was clear: A blonde, sweet 2 year-old boy lands with a childless couple unexpectedly after a car accident kills his father and leaves his mother in a coma. Ana and James don’t know they’ve been named guardians of their friends’ son, and fumble through an experience that will change them both, and their marriage, profoundly and forever.

What started as parental anxiety somehow took flight, off into the world of art. I left my own experience behind, sat down in front of the computer (the hardest part), and began to tell this other story.

Katrina, thanks for joining us today. I can see where the ‘what ifs?’ concerning children’s care could become overwhelming. True life does bring about some interesting characters for readers to enjoy.

Here’s a bit of background on Katrina. She is an award-winning journalism that has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, Elle, and Toronto Life. She is currently a culture columnist in The Globe and Mail and lives in Toronto with her family. 

For more information on Katrina and her writing, please visit her website: http://katrinaonstad.com/
Now for the awesome giveaway from Katrina and Tracy. I have 4, yes that right, 4 copies of EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING to giveaway. 

To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com) with the subject line, “Win Everybody Has Everything.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 4 copies of EVERYBODY HAS EVERYTHING is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, July 25.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. What fears did you face when your children were small? Have you ever considered the ‘what ifs?’ before?

**Housekeeping Note: I’ve been having trouble receiving my posts via email through Feedburner. If anyone else is having this same problem, please let me know either in the comments or by email. If others are having the same problem, I’ll look into other ways to send the posts out. Thanks!**


  1. Katrina, thanks again for visiting with us. The 'what ifs?' do lead to interesting plots for writers. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Katrina.

    Katrina - Nothing changes one's life the way a child does, and you're right; it can get messy. But it also can be the most meaningful thing a person does, too, and it sounds as though you really explore that in this book. I wish you success.

  3. I can relate to Katrina's thoughts. My daughter had twins and a daughter within a two year period. Although they didn't appear overnight, sometimes it feels like they did.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.