Interview & Contest: Devan Sipher

Jen: Today we welcome Devan Sipher as he is celebrating the release of his debut novel.  Devan, please tell us about The Wedding Beat and where the idea for the book came from.

Devan: For five years, I was a single guy writing the Vows wedding column at The New York Times – “always the wedding columnist, never the groom.” It wasn’t that the idea for a comic novel came to me, so much as I realized that my life had become one. The Wedding Beat tells the story of Gavin Greene, a hopeless romantic, who is also a professional one, writing about wedding for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper. It tells the classic story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy assigned to write article about girl’s wedding.

Jen: What is your writing routine or process?
Devan: Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write more. Delete most of it. Eat. Go online to thesaurus.com. Check for Facebook updates while I’m online. Click on a story about Sarah Jessica Parker. Check on Wikipedia to see if she’s still married to Matthew Broderick. She’s still married. Eat. Write more. Delete more. Eat more. Take a nap. Write. Write more. Somehow finish a page.

Jen: Why did you choose to write a romantic comedy? That’s not generally a genre associated with male authors.

Devan: I’m a single guy in my 40’s who writes about weddings. I have to look at my life as either a tragedy or a romantic comedy. I decided to go with the latter. It actually didn’t occur to me that it was unusual, because so many romantic comedy movies are written by men. But the more I searched for other similar books with male authors, the more I realized there weren’t any (though I eventually found one when I was about halfway through my own, Beginner’s Greek by James Collins). By the time I concluded I had a problem, I was already hooked on the idea of writing the book. I decided all that mattered was telling a heartfelt and funny story with a sympathetic protagonist. And that’s what I set out to do.

Jen: Who or what has influenced you as an author?

Devan: I think everything influences me. From Saturday morning cartoons I watched as a kid to the latest stories in the newspaper, but there are a several novels that I think had a particular influence on my own, including first and foremost Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, but also Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk, The Big Love by Sarah Dunn, and it would be heresy to not include Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Jen: What is the most interesting comment you’ve received about your writing?

Devan: I receive some great blurbs for my book from New York Times bestselling authors, and I’ve also been receiving some wonderful readers’ reviews. But the comment that stands out for me as being the most interesting was from author Jennifer Belle. She said “Nothing feels more right than love gone wrong from a man’s point-of-view. Sipher gives us the male Bridget Jones—winning, elegant, and terribly lost. No cold feet here. I do, I do, I do!”

Jen: What is next for you?

Devan: My second book for NAL/Penguin is also a romantic comedy. I’m not supposed to give much away, but I can say it’s about two people who make a lot of wrong turns on the way to finding each other. The tagline is “Sometimes love at first sight can take a lifetime.”

Jen: Please share your author bio and include links where readers can find you online.

Devan: Devan Sipher has written for The New York Times for more than five years, and is the author of The Wedding Beat. He graduated with high honors from the University of Michigan and has a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.

Contest details:

  • The prize is a print copy of The Wedding Beat.
  • Due to the publisher’s request, the contest is open to US residents only.
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Wednesday, April 11.

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