My name is: Nora Zelevansky.
My book is called: Competitive Grieving (out May 11, 2021!)
My background before becoming an author was: I’m a journalist, brand writer/strategist and the proud editorial director of Live The Process!
I was inspired to write it when: A few years ago, I lost one of my closest childhood friends. The aftermath was messy. People were so sad and they acted out, everyone in their own way. At the time, there was also a slew of celebrity deaths, and I watched as people found ways to take ownership and mourn online. As the grieving process for my friend played out, I started to realize how most of that questionable behavior came from a place of wanting to be seen and recognized. There was this sense of desperation, a desire to have each relationship’s legitimacy confirmed—but the person we all wanted that validation from was gone. He was the glue that bound us together, but we were stuck navigating his absence without him. I decided to write a book inspired by the experience, though it is very much not his story—or mine.
It's about: Wren’s closest friend, her anchor since childhood, is dead. Stewart Beasley. Gone. She can’t quite believe it and she definitely can’t bring herself to google what causes an aneurysm. Instead of weeping or facing reality, Wren has been dreaming up the perfect funeral plans, memorial buffets, and processional songs for everyone from the corner bodega owner to her parents (none of whom show signs of imminent demise).
Stewart was a rising TV star, who—for reasons Wren struggles to understand—often surrounded himself with sycophants, amusing in his life, but intolerable in his death. When his icy mother assigns Wren the task of disseminating his possessions alongside George (Stewart’s maddening, but oddly charming lawyer), she finds herself at the epicenter of a world in which she wants no part, where everyone is competing to own a piece of Stewart’s memory (sometimes literally).
Remembering the boy Stewart was and investigating the man he became, Wren finds herself wondering, did she even know this person who she once considered an extension of herself? Can you ever actually know anyone? How well does she really know herself?
The most unexpected takeaway is: It’s not always obvious how to navigate life after losing someone you love.
It’s a game changer because: Dealing with all the different ways people grieve—and often misbehave—after someone dies is such a universal experience. It’s absurd, it’s painful, it’s even funny. Almost everyone has a story about having to handle it, yet the phenomenon is rarely discussed.
My hope is that readers will: In a time when there is so much loss and collective grief, I hope that people can find a sense of commiseration and hope in the book—and even humor. And I hope that it will spark conversation, making grief less taboo.
This book can bring sunshine into your life by: Reminding you that laughter is the best medicine, that you are not alone, that there is light in the darkness.
My next book might be: Competitive Sleeping. Like everyone else, I’m so tired after this challenging period!