Lucky Us, Bloom’s first novel since Away, tells the story of Eva and Iris, two sisters who meet as adolescents in the 1940s and, together, seek fame and fortune.
Where does the title come from? After all, in some ways, the characters aren’t so lucky.
Luck is both good and bad. These characters have good luck and bad, and sometimes terrible, luck. We do our best, but in the end, the good luck and the bad luck reveal to us who we are; they don’t make us who we are.
The chapter titles are all taken from titles of songs from the 1930s and 1940s. Why did you name the titles after song titles?
Music plays such a big part in the lives of the characters: Eva was brought up by a mother who listened to the radio, Edgar and Clara are very engaged with music, Iris becomes so as well. Music was such a national language of that period, because of radio. So many people listened attentively to music... it was such a deep communicator. Although not everybody listened to all the same music, it was a much broader river that included far more people than music does now.
Gus, who is an American citizen of German ancestry, is interned during World War II. Was this based on historical research that you did?
I usually don’t have to do a lot of research in my work, as I’m writing about something I’m already familiar with. But for this, I did a lot of reading. I was reading first-person accounts of ordinary people’s lives in World War II, and I came across this description of a young teenager whose German parents were interned. I thought it was so interesting, and I had not heard of it before.
The novel is about two sisters who are very close, but whose relationship is somewhat fraught. Do you have a sister? If so, was the novel inspired by your relationship with her?
I do have a sister. I have never written much about sisters before. I am very close to my sister, but, maybe, because we are very close, it never occurred to me to write about her. There’s about the same age gap between us as there is between Iris and Eva. There have been moments in my life when my sister’s support or advice was tremendously helpful, and there have been moments when it wasn’t. [In writing Lucky Us] I was interested in a relationship that really mattered, but as you say, is not without bumps.
You were trained as a psychotherapist before becoming a writer. What impact does this have on your writing?
It’s a great gift. It was the training: to listen, to observe. Those skills are very much what you need as a writer. Keep your mouth shut and see what’s happening around you. Don’t finish people’s sentences for them. Don’t just hear what they say, but also how they behave while they’re saying it. That was great training for writing.