Attending BookExpo with her new book, Something Like Happy (Graydon House, Sept.), is a dream come true for Eva Woods. “I grew up in a small Irish town with no bookshop for miles around, and so I still don’t take it for granted that I can slip inside one, sniff the lovely paper smell, and browse among the books. Booksellers are some of the world’s unsung heroes!” she says.

Something Like Happy will be the launch title of Harlequin’s new Graydon House imprint. How does that make you feel?

This is the first time I’ve ever been published in the U.S., and to be the lead title of this incredible new imprint is a huge honor. Everyone at Graydon House has been amazing to work with.

The book drew its inspiration from the #100HappyDays social media trope. What drew you to the topic?

My first experience with #100happydays was seeing a few friends posting on Facebook, and although I was skeptical at first, I noticed I was looking forward to seeing what they’d post each day. I started to wonder if small acts like that could really make a difference. The book is sort of a pessimist’s take on the happiness industry. It takes life as a whole, the good and the bad.

We have to ask: what would you do if you had 100 days left to live?

I’d make sure everyone knew I loved them, and, like Polly, one of the main characters in Something Like Happy, it would be hard not to leave behind some “wise” advice, too. I would probably also go on a round-the-world trip and see as many different things as I could. Plus, I’d definitely eat as much food as I could every day. I’m planning to do the same while I’m in New York.

Do you think a person can feel happiness if they’ve never felt its opposite?

In the Western world, most of us live such comfortable lives, and yet many people are lonely, empty, and lost. I do think that experiencing sadness and loss can open your eyes to the joy in the world. Of course, as I try to say in the book, it’s really hard to keep that level of awareness all the time. Eventually, some petty thing will annoy you—that’s just human nature. But we can all remind ourselves from time to time how lucky we are.

Eva Woods is a pseudonym; you write crime fiction as Claire McGowan. Do you draw from different sides of yourself for the two?

My natural bent is probably to be more cynical and pessimistic, so in many ways my Eva Woods books are a way to remind myself of all the good things in life. Women’s fiction is such a powerful “genre,” if you can call it a genre. I’m interested in exploring the issues we all deal with—relationships, work, family, and even death—in a way that feels true to real life.

Today, 12:30–1:30 p.m. Eva Woods signs ARCs at the Harlequin booth (2921).