1. What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into this book? I never wanted to humanize the WASPy Long Island families that I grew up around. From my experience, money can buy classism, but certainly not common courtesy. Why should I empathize with anyone in that world? Writing this fictional family helped me understand that people are who they are, because of where they came from. This story isn’t meant to demonize anyone—and it’s certainly not meant to put them on a pedestal. It’s meant to help us understand where an outdated American mentality forms, and how fragile it has become.
2. What is it about and who is it for? My book is a fictional family-drama contemplating (and often poking at) the downfall of white, aristocratic American ideals, through the death of a blue-blooded family’s final heir. While this story tackles serious issues, it’s for anyone who wants a good cry and, well, a good laugh.
3. What takeaways might the reader be left with after reading it? I want my readers to see a piece of themselves in these characters.
4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? I was always taken aback by the unnecessarily cold and exclusionary nature of the people I grew up around on the North Shore of Long Island. So what would they be like at a funeral? I chose this cover as a nod to The Great Gatsby, and to represent the all-seeing eyes of a broken legacy.
5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Don’t fear what people think about you or your work.
6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Unfortunately, we’re fighting a million different entertainment mediums. From TikTok, to Instagram and Snapchat … I’m just waiting for the next instant gratification monster risen from the depths of the Metaverse. Due to our deteriorating attention spans, we want quick and captivating. Therefore, I feel the publishing industry is on the cusp of quality over quantity content … cue the novella! If it’s written well, it will sell.
7. What challenges did you overcome to write this book? I had major difficulties channeling my inner child to write Brookes’s POV in the final chapter. I took a ton of time chatting with friends and family to figure out this blockage. I realized it was simple: I didn’t want to deal with her again! Do any of us really want to relive our awkward teen years? However, this was a challenge I needed to face, not only for the completion of my book, but for myself. Brookes is a culmination of my younger self as well as a few people I grew up with; sure, we all sucked, but I’m glad I took the time to understand us through my writing.
8. How would you describe your writing style? Descriptive and honest.
9. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? My book makes you empathize with people you would normally scoff at. For example, my friend and I once argued about comparing hardships. I told her, “I’m hurting deeply over XYZ, but there’s people who suffer far worse.” So she responded with an analogy: “A billionaire in a hot car cruises down the street near a child on a tricycle, and suddenly, they both break down to the side of the road. The car sits big and expensive beside the tiny child in an ordinary tricycle. However, they are both broken, and they are not moving forward.”
About The Author: Shelby Renjifo is a screenwriter and
novelist who grew up in Glen Cove, New York, and is a graduate from Emerson
College. Shelby recently released her critically acclaimed novella “A Wasp at a
Funeral,” and has a portfolio of screenplays currently in different stages of
production. She is also diligently working on her first novel. No matter the
writing medium, she hopes to use her voice to unite others through art. She can
be reached at Instagram: shelbyrenjifo or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shelby-renjifo/
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