Q & A with Juliette Fay, author of CATCH US WHEN WE FALL

Q & A with Juliette Fay, author of CATCH US WHEN WE FALL

Juliette Fay's new book, Catch Us When We Fall, published on September 21, 2021. Juliette Fay is the bestselling author of five previous novels including City of Flickering Light and The Tumbling Turner Sisters, a USA Today bestseller. Other novels include The Shortest Way Home, one of Library Journal’s “Top 5 Best Books of 2012: Women’s Fiction”; Deep Down True, shortlisted for the 2011 Women’s Fiction award by the American Library Association; and Shelter Me, a 2009 Massachusetts Book Award “Must-Read Book” and an Indie Next pick. Juliette is a graduate of Boston College and Harvard University and lives in Massachusetts. Visit her at juliettefay.com.  

Synopsis of Catch Us When We Fall from the publisher:

On her own since the age of eighteen, Cass Macklin dated brilliant and troubled Ben McGreavy, convinced he was the smartest person she’d ever known. They partied their way through their twenties, slowly descending into a bleak world of binge-drinking and broken promises, inebriated for most of a decade. Now Ben is dead, and Cass is broke, homeless, scared…and pregnant.

Determined to have a healthy pregnancy and raise Ben’s baby, Cass has to find a way to stop drinking and build a stable life for herself and her child. But with no money, skills, or sober friends or family, the task seems insurmountable. At her wit’s end, Cass turns to the only person with the means to help her: Ben’s brother Scott, third basemen for the Boston Red Sox, a man with a temper and problems of his own. The two make a deal that neither one of them is sure they can live up to. As Cass struggles to take control of her life and to ask for help when she needs it, Scott begins to realize there’s a life for him beyond the baseball diamond.

Heartbreaking and humorous, with its message that change is possible, that forgiveness can be freely given, and that life, though imperfect, is worth embracing, Catch Us When We Fall is a story of human connectedness and hope.

Juliette answers some questions that I posed to her about Catch Us When We Fall:

1.  What inspired you to start writing Catch Us When We Fall?

I was raised by an alcoholic father who’s now in recovery, and I have a number of other people in my life who struggle with addiction. I love my addicts, and I find I have a lot of compassion for them. The disease can create such misery and destruction, and recovery offers the possibility of radically beautiful transformation. I always knew I would write about it.

That said, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right, and I needed to come to the realization that every addict’s journey is different—I couldn’t hope to capture it all with one character, or even a couple of characters. I had to put it aside for a bunch of years and write other stories.

Then one morning I woke up with a scene in my head: the only two people at a graveside service. One was bombed and one was furious. Who were they? What was going on here? Answering those questions intrigued me and eventually became Catch Us When We Fall.


2.  What kind of research did you have to do?

I had gone to open Alcoholics Anonymous meetings not long after my father started attending, just to see what it was all about and what he got from it. Even as a non-addict, I found them tremendously inspiring and uplifting. I read books by and about alcoholics, watched movies—anything I could get my hands on. But I found the most illuminating information came from just talking to my friends and family members in recovery. They were the ones who gave me the little insights that really helped me flesh out what Cass was going through.

The research on Scott and his baseball career was really fun. I was able to interview people involved in the Red Sox franchise—a flight attendant on the away-game trips and a long-time usher were particularly helpful—and I spent a lot of time at Fenway. While I’m not as much of a baseball fan as my die-hard Red Sox fan husband, something about sitting in that 100-year-old park, eating ice cream out of little plastic batting helmets, and doing the wave really gets me!


3.  What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Sex scenes are by far the hardest! Mine aren’t overly graphic, but eventually you come to a place where two people are moving into a physical phase in their relationship, and you want to capture that. Except everyone knows how intercourse works—what can you say that hasn’t been said a jillion times before and doesn’t sound hackneyed or clichéd? How can you get into the heart of that intimacy without it tipping into “eww” territory? I work hard to skate the edges of the mechanics while still creating realistic, emotionally rich scenes.


4.  Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with me?

I’m excited to share that I just sold my next book! It’s tentatively titled With Me All the Time and should be out in early 2023. Here’s a little description:

It’s October 2021 and the worst of the pandemic is beginning to subside, though its effects still linger. For 58-year-old Helen Spencer, those effects include a frank review of a life with many regrets, and how it went sideways incrementally, one little wrong decision at a time. She can even pinpoint where things started to go awry: a wonderous, romantic night in the woods her senior year of high school with a boy named Cal Crosby. A night she would soon work hard to forget. Forty years later, after a chance meeting in another woods, the opportunity to sort out what happened suddenly presents itself. But Helen would much prefer to keep that night and all the fury, hurt, and sorrow it precipitated tightly locked away where she doesn’t have to see or feel them. Cal Crosby, however, is ready to talk.


5.  What have you read recently that you loved?

I just finished Allison Larkin's The People We Keep, and I couldn’t put it down. I took it with me on a family vacation and found myself staying up way past everyone else to have more time to read. The teenage protagonist, April Sawicki, is utterly compelling - both wise and naïve, broken and also remarkably strong, with a voice I wanted to hear and a story I wanted to know. A hundred pages in, I was ready to adopt her. Highly recommend!


You can order Catch Us When We Fall from Bookshop.org here.