– by Wendy Morley –
In addition to being a stand-up comic, Cecily Knobler (pronounced “Nobler”) is a film critic and radio personality based in LA. She has also spent years as a relationship columnist, and has written a humorous nonfiction book, She’s Crazy, He’s a Liar, about the craziness of relationships.
This year, she has led her talents in a different direction, writing a fictional book that is a great, fun read. Called Five Thousand, Three Hundred Miles, the book follows both Beth, on her trip to London and back, and Jack, whom she meets there.
Wendy Morley: Your book is quite sweet and funny, and you are a comic so the humor is not a surprise, I suppose! How do you feel the comedian aspect of yourself informed the book?
Cecily Knobler: Thank you! I really wanted the characters to be interesting people that others could relate to. And for me, the most interesting people in the world are funny! I had to separate myself from the “Beth” character, however. She’s much more selfless and hardworking than I am. So whereas I might make a joke on a date, Beth faces her life with earnest sincerity. When I was writing in her voice and had the instinct to be sarcastic, I tried to temper it with warmth. In many ways, I found my comedic voice more with Jack. He’s dryer and a dash more cynical!
WM: How do you bring the comic aspect in without becoming absurd?
CK: If I’d been writing the “Cecily Knobler Story,” it would have just been essays of horrible choices in relationships. As funny and silly as that might be, I wanted to write something more hopeful.
WM: This book feels like a rom-com/chick flick. Reading it is like being at the movies. Did you see it as a movie when you wrote it?
CK: Absolutely! I even scouted the locations in my head!
WM: Is film writing something you do or would like to do?
CK: I wrote a feature film just to see if I could, but I think I enjoy writing for television more. I like the idea of characters living on for many years, with audiences getting invested in them like family. In fact, I’d love to write a sequel to Five Thousand, Three Hundred Miles. (Although I promise I won’t call it Five Thousand Three Hundred and ONE Miles.)
WM: How would you say your main character, Beth, grows throughout the book?
CK: Beth is a shy worker bee who doesn’t take a lot of chances at the beginning of the novel. As she gets more adventurous and opens herself up to love, she gains confidence and “gets her groove back, ” as they say.
WM: Which authors or writers inspire you?
CK: Growing up, I was a huge fan of J.D. Salinger, mainly because until I discovered The Catcher in the Rye, I hadn’t read a lot of first-person narrative, (which is my favorite.) Plus, Salinger – or at least his characters – didn’t abide by traditional rules and this delighted me! It was a less-is-more, say-what-you-mean approach and many of the characters were deeply flawed.
More recently for nonfiction, I’d say Chuck Klosterman is the tops. He’s just on another level. My favorite current author overall is Nick Hornby, who has the uncanny ability to take everyday heartbreak and not only make it poetic, but truly hilarious as well. I also love Carrie Fisher’s novels. (She has one of my all-time favorite quotes about the end of a relationship, which is: “Nothing is ever really over. Just over there.”)
WM: Did you enjoy writing this book? What was the most difficult part of the book to write?
CK: I literally “dream-write.” I’ll go to sleep and dream of an empty page, which my mind fills with ideas. I am my happiest when I’m creating characters and watching where they go. I don’t outline my books. I begin them and they take on a life of their own.
WM: Do you think it’s ok to escape into a love story?
CK: Of course! Just as a great romantic film can inspire us to want more out of love, so can a book!
WM: Do you believe in love?
CK: I do! One of the characters in the book talks about the idea that perhaps we don’t fall “in and out” of love, but rather we love each other in “moments.” Someone says something funny, or remembers an inside joke, our brain floods with Dopamine and we “love.” These moments are interconnected and create a deeper love overall. With the right person, you’ll have more of the “moments” than with others and it’s just that simple!