Courtney Maum was in her early 20s and living in Paris when she wrote the first draft of her debut novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, which will be released by Touchstone (Simon & Schuster) on June 10.
The story is set partially in Paris and follows British artist Richard Haddon as his marriage unravels. The first draft came quickly, inspired by experiences of familial infidelity. Despite a few close calls, the earlier version did not sell, and Maum banished it to the drawer. Ten years later, Maum’s agent, Rebecca Gradinger (Fletcher and Co.) encouraged Maum to revise the manuscript, and she accepted the challenge. Maum, who credits elbow grease for her success with Touchstone—“I worked like a mad dog”—decided the draft needed more than just revision so she rewrote the original manuscript. “The rewrite coincided with the discovery that I was pregnant with my first child,” Maum says. “My writing routine was: wake up, ignore the nausea, and write like the freaking wind so that I could get the book finished before the baby came.”
In the decade between the seeds of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and the final draft, Maum, who does not have an M.F.A., honed her writing chops as an online humor columnist for literary powerhouses Electric Literature and Tin House and still works as a corporate namer. “It’s risky publishing any work of debut fiction these days,” says Sally Kim, Maum’s editor and Touchstone’s editorial director. “But Courtney’s stellar writing credits and day job as a corporate namer (really!) told me she is a writer who works at cultivating her voice and getting it heard. And her celebrity book reviews for Electric Literature made me love the way her brain works!”
Kim fell in love with Maum’s manuscript thanks in no small part to its humor. Kim was also struck by authenticity of the novel’s French setting. Maum’s long residence in the country—she lived there for six years and speaks fluent French—informed the detailed descriptions in the book. “I also found it fascinating that she’d written the first draft of this novel 10 years ago and put it away in a drawer––only to revisit it recently, after having been married for a while,” Kim says. “The story is, of course, only richer and more nuanced for this ‘steeping’ time in her consciousness. How could it not be?”