Driving Sideways cover

Author Jess Riley stopped by to share a little background on her new book Driving Sideways, which officially went on sale this morning. I’ve been a long-time reader of Jess’s blog, and am happy to say that every bit of her humor and warmth carry over into her debut novel. (Yes, I already started reading my copy, and I’ve found myself both laughing out loud and sharing passages to the closest people, cats, or pieces of furniture because it’s that good.) Enjoy what she has to say here, and then keep reading to find out how you can buy or win your own copy of Driving Sideways.

People sometimes ask me how much research I did for Driving Sideways. And I reply, “Research? I was supposed to do research?”

I’m kidding of course. As one who has had neither kidney disease nor an organ transplant, I had to do a ton of research before I started writing. I also took the Driving Sideways roadtrip twice: once before writing the novel, and again after I had a publishing contract, just to make sure I got it right.

The second time I headed west, I met my gracious blogging host Caryn for lunch…she was so funny and charming and had the most beautiful hair. I’d been driving in a Toyota for more than thirty hours by then, and my hair was actively campaigning for reassignment to someone else’s head. But because she is quite possibly America’s Sweetheart, she didn’t seem to notice and invited me to guest blog on her site today. (Thanks Caryn!)

As I write this, there is just one calendar day before the book’s launch. Here are some of the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head a day before the book is finally released:

My handwriting has really deteriorated since the third grade. I just know I’ll sign someone’s book and later they’ll be like, “Who’s ‘Jeff Bubby?’”

I read three different excerpts to my Dad’s English classes at my alma mater, UW-Oshkosh, last Thursday. And I was shocked at how bawdy some of the humor is. Really, I would like to take a black marker to my grandmother’s copy. Also, the women planning the book launch party? They said this to me: “Yes! You were right about the bathroom humor! You’re so shy and genteel in person, and then we read the reference to the five-alarm bucket of chicken wings and the hives and it was like, WHOA!”

In case anyone asks, there are several reasons for this: 1) the main character, Leigh, struggles with a terminal illness and the accompanying surgeries, daily medications, and lifestyle changes. Thus, she is understandably obsessed with the human body and its various functions. Call it ‘morbid preoccupation.’ 2) Roadtrips can be exhausting and monotonous. After several hours in the car, your sense of humor can deteriorate to very basic levels. I think you know what I’m talking about. And, 3) I am a six year-old with severe ADD at heart.

Also, I have one last grant proposal to write some time in the next two weeks. Procrastination, I shake my fist at you!

I want to close by asking if any of YOU have any questions about the ‘behind the scenes’ of the publication process…I’ll check in a few times and do my best to answer. Thanks for reading and helping me celebrate release day!

Enjoy what Jess had to say? You can pick up copies of Driving Sideways and read more about it on the Random House website, from Amazon.com (complete with a preview of the first scene!), from Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore. Even Target‘s got copies (online now, in stores on June 19th)!

Now, for what you really want to know: Just how can you, dear reader, win a free autographed and personalized copy of Driving Sideways for your very own? Just comment below and tell Jess and me why you want the book. Be creative, silly, or painfully honest — we want to know! All entries must be in by midnight M.S.T. next Monday, May 26th. I’ll post the results on Tuesday or Wednesday.

If you already have your own copy, feel free to comment anyway. Congratulate Jess, thank her for sharing her experiences, compliment her hair (which, for the record, is so much nicer than mine), ask questions, or just tell everyone else how great the book is.

Happy reading!