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Chicago authors pen romance novel that allows you to choose your own happy ending

June 25, 2018


Remember "Choose Your Own Adventure" books? At pivotal points in the plot, readers were asked to decide a question that would ultimately determine the main characterís actions and the storyís outcome. In "My Ladyís Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel," authors Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran have followed the same premise, allowing readers to choose their own happily ever after.

The creative duo made a name for themselves with their 2016ís novella, "Taylor Swift: Girl Detective ó The Secrets of the Starbucks Lovers," but their latest is a send-up of the romance genre that puts the reader in the role of heroine during Regency-era London. Women hold jobs, such as governess and "orphan-helpin.í" Expeditions into the Scottish Highlands and Egypt await. And whether you favor Mr. Darcy or Jamie Fraser of "Outlander," this book accommodates.

Readers are challenged to answer tough questions like: "Are you a lover, not a fighter?" Or choose between these options: "Yes, you want to be a spy and have sultry intrigues with your sultry ex-lover" or "No, I prefer a career that doesnít involve getting shot at." But by bookís end, if you fancy the brooding type or a "free-spirited woman with a past," this book delivers agency with a side of humor.

With a nod to old-school romance genre tropes, we talked with Ravenswood resident Curran and Andersonville resident Zageris about their book. The following conversation has been edited for space and clarity.

Q: How would you describe the book to a reader?

Curran: I would call the book a loving satire, kind of like "Hot Fuzz." Ö Itís an action movie satire, but done by people who clearly love action movies for people who love action movies. I feel the same sort of thing with ours.

Zageris: I think send-up is a bit of a softer term, because there are moments that are satirical, where we do get our little edge of social commentary in there Ö We make a joke in the first few pages where we ask: "Do you want to choose to go out on your own and do this?" And we say, "You canít, because itís Regency England and you will literally die." And we wanted to make those rules pretty clear to the reader ó that though itís a fantastic world, itís not sheer fantasy where you can break off on your own and say, "I did my own thing." Thatís kind of the satirical edge. At the time, you had to bend to these rules, and we make fun of how some of the rules are completely stupid. Thatís not the rules of romance, thatís societal rules.

Q: What was your inspiration for the book?

Curran: Larissa discovered (the "Masterpiece" series) "Poldark," and I rediscovered "Poldark" in the writing of this. And obviously "Outlander" was a large inspiration for Mac (Captain Angus MacTaggart) as well.

Zageris: My Scottish version of "Poldark" ó thatís how I wrote Mac. I love "Poldark." Kitty and I both love a PBS miniseries or a Masterpiece Theater miniseries and we in equal measure love comedies in the vein of "What We Do in the Shadows" or "Hot Fuzz." We love those kind of goofy, good-hearted shows with a little bit of emotion in there and a lot of fun word play and gags. (Think) the very serious "North & South" combined with that ridiculous Mel Brooks off-the-wall humor that is rooted in silliness (which is a word that people bless us with or curse us with).

Q: Could we use your book as advice for the lovelorn?

Zageris: 100 percent. Kitty and I talk about this a bunch, because a lot of what weíre working on has to do with a strong female perspective. We talk about what we wish we could see or the things that we really like, and one of the shows is "Miss Fisherís Murder Mysteries." When I started watching it, I said, "Whatís this feeling Iím having?" Miss Fisher gets to wear these great clothes, she gets all these guys and then she has this hot, unconsummated romance, and sheís smart, and Kitty says: "Itís wish fulfillment." That show for me helped me kind of raise my own standards. You might never be a world-class, really rich, hot lady detective, but you can kind of want that out of your life ó that feeling of confidence and being open with your desire. Even though itís pure entertainment, it helped me kind of be like: "Yeah, feel your bad self." Something like our book allows you, as a reader and a character, a lot of agency and expects it of you. I would hope people have a really good time doing what they want or doing things far outside their comfort zone as a character and maybe take a little bit of that into their day-to-day life.

Q: Why this book now?

Zageris: Writing something that is meant to be enjoyed by mostly women with the expectation that men and nonbinary people as well can enjoy this kind of book ó we were encouraged to make the lead character bisexual ó weíre hoping maybe it will hit some people who normally wouldnít have considered that part of their reading experience. It is an entertainment book, but we wanted it to be a little bit more wide in the experiences you get to have and the representation you get to see.

Curran: We wanted it to be wish fulfillment for everyone or as many people as we could. Ö You want to have everyone, regardless of who theyíre into, to be able to read it through and be kind of be like, "Yeah, this is the ending that I want."

 

 


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