First-time author Dee Sanderson has written the definitive guide to avoiding the pitfalls of a bad relationship and surviving the cheating spouse in How To Marry A Loser Without Even Trying. The semi-auto biography touches on themes of responsibility, accountability, love and loss. Recently, Dee took some time out to talk to Hollywood the Write Way about her book, so check out what she had to say below:
When did you decide that you were going to write this novel and how did you decide on the topic?
It was right after the end of my marriage. I kept trying to make my marriage work until I hit a really low point. I go into the details in the book and at the end of the marriage, a light bulb went off…all this stuff that just happened was so obvious. The choices that I made over the years were not so great and it just became clear that I had something to say about getting into and maintaining a relationship. So here’s everything that I did wrong and maybe I can stop someone from making the same mistakes. It took me a few months to get everything down. You mentioned how it’s comedic and sometimes you just have to laugh your way through the pain. When I looked back I would think, “That was really dumb. Why would I do that?” If you can laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously, it opens the door to invite others in and let them hear and learn from your story.
What was the most challenging chapter to write?
I actually split that into 2 chapters. The day that things ended in my marriage was a really bad day. There was some physical altercations and police involved. Reliving that experience was hard and in writing the blow by blow of how we got to that place was emotionally really hard. It’s probably the most serious part of the book. I try to laugh at little things but at the end I talk about how far I had to sink to really wake up and realize that I was trying to stay in something that was not worth it.
Which chapter went through the most re-writes?
The chapter where I talk about honesty, there was a lot in there where I had to think about what honesty meant and how I could get my feelings across to the readers so that was edited quite a bit. When I talk about myself also, I just went for it and didn’t censor myself so there are family TMI alerts throughout the book. I thought, “Well, my mom and dad might not want to read that” so that’s why I added those TMI alerts so they would know when to skip a few pages.
How in depth was your outline when you began the process?
This book really fell out of the sky and into my head so I knew that I needed to talk about who I was, why I was writing the book, and tell my story. So I started with that and then realized that I wanted to break down characteristics or warning signs. So as I did that, those became the chapters. There’s a chapter on honesty, there’s a chapter credit, there’s a chapter sex, and my favorite chapter is when I talk about my proposal. It was something that could have been straight out of a movie so it was fun to remember and write about. So the outline started out small and as I really organized my thoughts, it really grew.
What did you learn about yourself while writing this?
You know, I learned that I’m pretty funny…I was actually making myself laugh a bit as I looked back. But on a deeper level, I realized that throughout my life I’ve been a very practical person and did not put much thought into woman’s intuition. When I look back at different turning points, my intuition was pushing me in the right direction and I wasn’t listening. So as I was writing and reading the book, I realized that woman’s intuition is a real thing and I learned how to really listen to that from looking back on my experience.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone on how to avoid a bad relationship or maintain a good one?
The chapter about honesty…the first time someone shows you who they really are, believe them. Don’t make excuses for them. Even if you think it is not a big deal, that is a habit. It will almost always lead to something bigger. Listen to that inner voice and when someone is showing you their true colors, you cannot ignore it. Pay attention.
Can you talk about the possibility that it may be adapted into a play?
What is so interesting is that I hadn’t planned for any of that but about 60% of the people who have read the book ask if this will be turned into a movie or play. So I started again outlining how I would change it for the different medium. I think books generally lend themselves better to the stage because you have more exposition than in film…which is why I am looking at a play. So that is definitely in the works right now. I am a fan of starting in a local theatre and working the kinks out before going into Off Broadway or Broadway right away so we’ll see where it goes from an LA production.
What are you currently working on?
I am starting a new advice column, Love & Relationships which runs in the Spring & Summer. I have several other books that I want to write but I’m just focusing right now on adapting this book into a play.
I know you are a fan of sci fi, have you written a sci fi screenplay?
You’ve touched on something closed to my heart. Yes, I am a huge fan of sci fi. I grew up watching Star Trek, Doctor Who, & I love Outer Limits. I have a sci fi story that I have been working on since before I was married. It’s a big story so over the years I’d pick it up and put it down, pick it up, put it down…and in the last few months I have been writing it as a screenplay but there is just so much detail. The format of a screenplay is very limiting as a writer, but as a director you can express yourself in many ways. But I decided to convert it into a novel for now since there is so much back story and depth.
If someone told you a few years ago that you would be writing an advice column on love & relationships, would you have believed them?
I would not! It’s silly that I wouldn’t have. When I am hanging out with my girls, I’m the person who is asked, “What do you think I should do?” I was just always helping my friends out but now I realize I have the platform to help more people out so it is great.
How To Marry A Loser Without Even Trying is available now.