What is LBH about?
LBH is about the notion and experience of romantic heartbreak: about why getting dumped feels as bad as it does, about the universality of not just the experience but also the term "heartbreak", about wallowing, about what music, literature, history, science, and popular culture can tell us about love gone wrong. LBH will touch on subjects ranging from neurobiology to medieval history to the genius of Nick Cave.
Why are you writing LBH?
I'm a firm believer in bibliotherapy. Books can heal, and I don't mean in a new agey, pop psych kind of way -- I mean that by engaging with our pain on an intellectual level and feeding the beast with knowledge, we can get to a higher level of understanding about it AND distract ourselves from the immediacy of the daggers in our chests.
I owe my life to both nonfiction and fiction titles that explore depression and heartbreak, like The Noonday Demon: The Atlas of Depression, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears, but whenever I was in the throes of heartbreak, I found myself craving a book that didn't yet exist: a tome that explained why I was acting like such a nutter, engaged me intellectually, gave me perspective, and looked at what I was experiencing through different lenses. A book that helped me to recover but wasn't self-helpy, trite, or just plain stupid.
So I set out to write that book.
How did you come up with the idea for LBH?
When I was in graduate school in journalism at Berkeley, I did a radio piece on love gone wrong that specifically covered what exactly the pain of heartbreak feels like and why social psychologists think it exists. I was struck by how engaged people were with the story -- everyone who I interviewed and I knew listened to it had something to share. It struck me perhaps nothing is more universal in the human experience -- we don't all become parents, we don't all get cancer, we don't all chuck it all and join a commune -- but nearly every one of us has his or her heartbroken.
I'm a recovering expert. Although I'm happily married now, before I met my husband, it's fair to say I got dumped as often and predictably as it rains in Seattle. Okay, so I exaggerate, but according to my scrap paper tally, I was dumped at least a dozen times, about half of which resulted in medium heartbreak (the kind that makes you cry, qualifies as profound disappointment, but you can concede after awhile wasn't so bad because the guy wasn't "the one" and/or had red flags sprouting around him like hair on an old lady's chin), and a quarter of which resulted in extreme heartbreak (the kind that makes you wish you were a lemming because hurling yourself off a cliff sounds like a great idea because he really did seem to be "the one").
I've been ditched after moving across the country to be with someone, via email and over instant messenger, in a Honda Civic, in my own kitchen, and on my birthday.
I'm also fairly certain I've broken the hearts of three or perhaps six individuals, several of whom barely spoke English, and one of whom I almost regretted dumping because he introduced me to the band Hem.
So, yeah, I think I have a fair amount to say on the subject.
Who is your audience?
Let's be real: men who will read a book about heartbreak are likely few and far between. My guess is that women will dig this book -- women like me who read broadly (medieval history! pop reference! best sellers! Mary Roach! Madame Bovary! obscure books about the history of dirt in London!), have been known to overindulge in Two Buck Chuck, are left cold by self-help books, and are confounded by the perils of the modern dating paradigm (did I sleep with him to soon? what does that cryptic email mean? what do you mean I shouldn't text him until he texts me? should I not have done a bong hit in front of him? was it the ratty red thong or the fact that I identified a little too much with Bridesmaids?)
When is the book coming out?
LBH will be published in February 2013, which means that my manuscript is due in, uh, six months.
Are you scared?
Do bears shit in the woods? Totally. But I'm also happy like a Mai Tai on the beach.