Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Abbi Waxman Interview - The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Photo Credit: Leanna Creel

Abbi Waxman was born in England in 1970, the oldest child of two copywriters who never should have been together in the first place. Once her father ran off to buy cigarettes and never came back, her mother began a highly successful career writing crime fiction. She encouraged Abbi and her sister Emily to read anything and everything they could pull down from the shelves, and they did. Naturally lazy and disinclined to dress up, Abbi went into advertising, working as a copywriter and then a creative director at various advertising agencies in London and New York. Clients ranged from big and traditional, (AT&T, Chase Manhattan Bank, IBM, American Express, Unilever, Mercedes-Benz) to big and morally corrupt (R. J. Reynolds) to big and larcenous (Enron). Eventually she quit advertising, had three kids and started writing books, TV shows and screenplays, largely in order to get a moment’s peace.

Abbi lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three kids, three dogs, three cats, a gecko, two mice and six chickens. Every one of these additions made sense at the time, it’s only in retrospect that it seems foolhardy.


Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I would say my mother was – and is – the most important influence on my career. Throughout my childhood she was a successful murder mystery writer (she wrote as Paula Gosling, and published 16 or 17 books before she retired) and so I learned two very important things: First, that writing books is hard work. You have to write every day, you struggle on and off throughout the process, and it takes time. Secondly, that it is possible. I knew it could be done, ergo, I knew I could do it. It also removed any sense of glamor; once you see the sausage get made, etc etc. She talked a lot about her work, I would see her think things through, talk to my dad, ask my sister and I our opinions, so I knew it was ok to ask for help. I never had that image of the starving artist, sitting alone in an attic, struggling to write a masterpiece: I saw someone working really hard at something that mattered to her, and pushing herself to get better. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting paid, for sure. And then, after that, the obvious: Meeting and hearing from readers. There is nothing better than getting a note from a reader that says she enjoyed your book, that it made her laugh, that it was an escape. It’s the best. This is something my mother never really had; she would get the occasional fan letter, but back then (80s, 90s) you had to write to the publisher, etc. These days people leap on Instagram or visit my site and are in touch with me immediately. It’s also the perfect distraction from actually working on another book, because it’s an important part of a writer’s career, so it’s entirely reasonable for me to be sitting on my phone for hours, drinking coffee and chatting. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
Yes, I would tone down the swearing in Other People’s Houses. It doesn’t bother most people, but it really bothers some, and it would have taken ten minutes to edit. Oh well, live and learn.

Can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL?
Nina is a book-loving introvert who has her life totally where she wants it. Then, overnight, she discovers the father she never knew she had has died, and left her with a dozen new family members. Plus, a guy is interested in her. Plus, her trivia team needs to get to the finals. It’s all a bit too much.

What part of Nina did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved Nina herself. I may write another book about her, because she is the 27-year-old I wish I had been.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Nina to Willoughby (from Pride and Prejudice), because she despises him, and it would give her a chance to punch him in the nose. It would make her so happy.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson. Unbelievably funny. Also, Home, by Bill Bryson, if you’re a history/science/trivia fiend, which I am.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
Can I choose the future? I’d like to be born as the mother of the first (or second or third) female President of the United States…of course, I have three daughters, so that may already be the case.

What are you most passionate about today?
Right this minute? Coffee.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Quit a job and break someone else’s heart, not necessarily at the same time. Why? Because quitting a job shows you that whatever anyone says, you have control over the direction of your own life. You won’t die. You’ll get another job. Breaking someone else’s heart teaches you that sometimes relationships are just not meant to be, and that’s ok. Then, when you get your own heart broken, you’ll hopefully realize it probably isn’t anything to do with you at all. 

Where can readers find you?
Usually in the bathroom, hiding from my children. And on my website, abbiwaxman.com, and on IG, @abbiwaxman I don’t go on Twitter, it fills me with rage, and nobody needs that.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
You can purchase The Bookish Life of Nina Hill at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ABBI WAXMAN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman.


  1. My first date was dinner and a movie with another 13 yr old couple and their parents 😂😂

  2. I honestly can't remember my first date! I feel like it was the movies?

  3. I asked a girl from school to a friend's birthday party. I think we were about 12.

  4. I went to a concert for my first date.

  5. "Where did you go on your first date?" Someday when I go on a date I will tell you!

  6. My very first date? I don't remember.