About the Author
Note: Originally printed in the first edition paperback of Anatomy of a Boyfriend.
What inspired you to write Anatomy of a Boyfriend ?
Every year thousands of high school seniors face the painful decision of whether to continue dating their home-town sweethearts following graduation, so I wanted to tell a story that focuses on that precarious time in a girl’s life when she’s both excited about going off to college and terrified about how it will shake up her world.
How do people react to your realistic sex scenes in the book?
Thankfully, most people respond very positively to the sex scenes precisely because of their realism. Anatomy of a Boyfriend doesn’t glorify or in any way promote premarital sex; it merely demystifies what the experience can be like physically and emotionally, good and bad.
Were you embarrassed to show this book to your family because of the sex scenes?
Of course not! Well, maybe a little bit…Okay, fine. Yes, I was! I was so embarrassed, in fact, that I never let anyone in my family read the book until after the publisher had bought it and I knew I couldn’t hide it any longer. I wasn’t ashamed of having written any of these things, but Anatomy of a Boyfriend does represent a side of me I don’t reveal to my family, for obvious reasons. It goes both ways—I certainly don’t want to know anything about my relatives’ sex lives, either! Luckily, though, the Snadowsky clan could not have been more supportive.
Who are your favorite authors and why?
I dedicated Anatomy of a Boyfriend to my two favorite authors, Dr. Dorothy Tennov and Judy Blume.
Dorothy Tennov, a friend and psychology professor whose work I studied in college, is the author of the groundbreaking Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. Limerence is a word Tennov coined to refer to that crazy, roller coaster–ish kind of romantic love when we feel infatuated with someone and our mood depends solely on whether that someone reciprocates our affections. One of my goals in writing Anatomy of a Boyfriend was to illustrate limerence from a teenage perspective, and Tennov helped guide me through this process. Sadly, she passed away less than a month after Anatomy of a Boyfriend’s hardcover release. I’m so lucky to have known her, and I remain in awe of her legacy.
As for Judy Blume, I was ten when I discovered Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., which shook me to the core because it felt so real. (I first read Margaret while on vacation with my family on Captiva Island, Florida, which is why I chose to set much of Anatomy of a Boyfriend there.) Blume transformed me again at age twelve when I tore through Forever…, which showed me that it’s possible to write explicitly about sex without its being gratuitous or sensationalized. I don’t know Blume personally, but she did receive the manuscript and she e-mailed me that she thought it was “so good” and she “had trouble putting it down.” Since then she’s even blogged about the book and compared it to Forever…. Talk about a dream come true!
How did you choose the title? Is there any significance behind the characters’ names?
It took forever to come up with a title that worked! For months my editor and I e-mailed each other possible contenders such as The Crazy Kind of Love and Love in the Time of Instant Messenger. Finally, when we were throwing around the Anatomy of a Boyfriend idea, I knew I loved the ring of it but didn’t believe the title related enough to the story itself. I e-mailed my editor that Anatomy of a Boyfriend would make sense only if Dominique were an aspiring doctor or biologist. He wrote back, “Great! Run with that!” So, rather late in the revision process, I worked the premed thread throughout the plot.
The name Dominique was inspired by the heroine, Dominique Francon, in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead—both Dominiques start off as self-assured, goal-oriented women, only to have their priorities turned upside down by love. I decided on Dominique’s last name, Baylor, while I was in law school and we were learning about bailors and bailees in property class. (The classic example of a bailor is someone who brings his watch to a pawnshop; the bailee at the pawnshop has a duty to safeguard that watch until the bailor reclaims it.) I reasoned that when we fall in love, we become bailors of our hearts, and we can only hope our chosen bailees won’t break them.
I named Wes after Westley in The Princess Bride because Westley stands for the archetypal hero/rescuer/perfect man that many girls, Dominique included, expect their boyfriends to emulate. Calvin Brandon, a boy who likes Dominique during the last half of the book, gets his name from Colonel Brandon in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Like Colonel Brandon, Calvin is very chivalrous but under-appreciated.
I thought it’d be cute for Wes to drive an Explorer, since Wes and Dominique explore each other in its backseat during one of their “dates.” Dominique attends Shorr Academy because she is very sure of herself and her future prior to meeting Wes, but she’s no longer as sure after she falls in love and graduates from Shorr. I once received a MySpace message asking if all the characters with C names (Caitlin, Chapin, and Calvin) are Christ figures. Interesting reader analysis, but no.
What has been the most surprising thing about your book-publishing experience?
That boys love the book, too! They really empathize with Wes and appreciate that he’s not portrayed as a popular, suave womanizer or a bad-boy social outcast or any other stereotypical love interest; he’s just an ordinary high school guy—decent and well-meaning but clueless about women. Most surprising are the e-mails I receive from boys who identify with Dominique. Just goes to show you that both sexes can fall into the throes of obsessive love (or limerence) equally intensely.