Taylor Jenkins Reid has ‘so much to say’ about ‘Carrie Soto Is Back,’ her shifting career and more

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The Fab Four is complete. No, not that popular 1960s band you’re thinking of — Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Fabulous Four; Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo, ’70s rock ‘n’ roll singer Daisy Jones, Nina Riva, eldest of the famous Riva siblings, and now, legendary tennis star Carrie Soto. The latter is the star of Reid’s upcoming novel, “Carrie Soto Is Back,” who is fighting to keep her championship title after retirement.

While Reid’s early novel writing career gained traction with love-centric titles like “One True Loves” and “Maybe In Another Life,” it was 2017’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and 2019’s “Daisy Jones & The Six” that catapulted her. something literary cultdom. Of course, Reid has always had a knack for effortlessly dropping readers into the past with evocative language and engaging and detailed story lines that are, in a word, addicting. But her focus on powerful women filled an invisible void: Readers wanted to see famous, flawed heroines who don’t back down. Ones that weren’t mythical or had superpowers, but ones like their favorite celebrities seen on TV or in magazines. Ones that you can’t help but root for even when you hate their decisions. Combined with Reid’s invocative and spellbinding storytelling, she created written magic — a Fab Four just as captivating as the Beatles.

We spoke with Reid ahead of her Aug. 29 virtual event with indie bookstores Brookline Booksmith, Gramercy Books, Oxford Exchange and Seattle’s own Third Place Books, where she’ll discuss “Carrie Soto Is Back.” According to Reid, Soto is most likely rounding out her strong women era, but luckily, the great thing about books is that you can return to them at any time — whether you need a little motivation boost or simply want to be entertained.

“Carrie Soto Is Back”

Taylor Jenkins Reid, Ballantine Books, 384 pp., $28

Carrie Soto was a character in your last release, “Malibu Rising.” When did it hit you that she needed her own novel? For astute readers, might they find any “Malibu Rising” Easter eggs in “Carrie Soto?”

There are definitely Easter eggs in “Carrie Soto!” To me, she was the perfect person to round out this world of these Famous Four women. She’s very different than the other women I’ve written about — and she allowed me an opportunity to write about how we treat women who break the rules.

This next question is twofold: Has the success of your previous novels informed your approach or outlook on future projects? Did the writing process for “Carrie Soto” look different than others? For example, Carrie Soto is a tennis star — what sort of research went into this release?

My writing process really hasn’t changed since “Evelyn Hugo.” I know there might be more eyes on me now, but I try very hard not to think about that — certainly during the writing phase. And so, my relationship to the blank page has remained mostly the same. I get to spend about a month or six weeks at the beginning of a book, just throwing myself into research. For Carrie Soto, that meant reading a lot of tennis biographies and watching a lot of old tennis matches on YouTube.

What do you hope readers take away from “Carrie Soto?”

I hope people have a good time. I think we are all in need of a good time lately. And I hope it makes people think about how we treat public figures — and, in our own lives, how we are often too hard on ourselves.

Your literary career started in the romance vein and has since moved to center on fictional celeb-focused stories — ie, “Daisy Jones,” “Malibu Rising,” and now “Carrie Soto.” Where did that shift originate from, and do you plan to continue with the “famous” character trend?

The shift originated out of just telling stories that I’m interested in. My interests changed, and I was interested in exploring something new. I can tell you that I’m facing another precipice just like I did back then now. This is the last of my books about famous women for now. And it’s time to do something else — whatever it may be.

Out of all the novels you’ve written, do you see yourself in any one protagonist more than others? Or perhaps you’ve sprinkled a little bit of Taylor in every character?

I think if you take Evelyn and Daisy and Nina and Carrie and you put them all together, you’re going to get a lot of things that are decidedly not me. But I think most of me will be in there somewhere, too.

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing? What genres do you enjoy reading when it isn’t related to work?

When I’m not working or reading, I’m cooking and trying to coax my daughter to join me. Otherwise, lately, I’ve loved reading thrillers. I recently read Alyssa Cole’s “When No One is Watching,” and it kept me turning the pages. It was a wild ride.

What can those attending your Random House Studio Sessions virtual event expect?

It will be my first time talking about “Carrie Soto” publicly, and I feel like I have so much to say! I’ve spent years with her in my head, getting to know everything about her. It feels like I’m a racehorse, and I’m ready for someone to open the gate and let me go! There’s so much to talk about and I can’t wait.

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