“When we fantasize about different paths we might have taken, we usually think about how our lives would be better—but how much would we have lost to arrive there? In her gorgeous debut, Kelley McNeil explores the question through a brilliant premise that kept me captivated hour after hour. This book is bursting with heartache and love, and with tremendous empathy for its genuine and likeable characters—including a beloved house. A Day Like This is smart, poignant, and poetic, the story itself like the main character’s life, a blossom that unfolds in fascinating layers.”
— Glendy Vanderah, bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars and The Light Through the Leaves
What is your book about?
A Day Like This is the story of Annie Beyers, a wife and mother who wakes from an accident to learn that her daughter never existed. In fact, nothing is the same as Annie remembers. With each passing day, Annie’s current life and the memories of her old life begin to blur. Haunted by visions of her daughter, and with knowledge of things she can’t explain, she begins to wonder…is everyone lying to her? The search for answers leads her down an illuminating path to discover the truth about the life she’s been living.
What do you hope other people will take away from reading your book?
The book explores the effect our childhood experience can have on our perceptions of ourselves and the paths we choose (or don’t choose) as adults. I hope readers will look at their own lives and see possibilities for new beginnings where they once saw limitations.
This story is about the way we question and second-guess ourselves and the voice that lives inside us, begging to be heard. It’s my hope that readers will tune into this inner voice, (and maybe even start to see the magic hovering around them in everyday life.)
Why did you want to write this book?
I wanted to explore a story in which there was a major conflict between what a woman feels or knows intuitively verses the proven facts that are presented to her. The main character of Annie was raised in an environment that caused her to be unable to trust herself as an adult. I liked the idea of placing a person like that in a situation that was completely strange and unexplainable, and watching her use it to find new confidence and footing in herself while healing her past.
What was the most challenging part of writing the book? The most rewarding?
Parts of the story include the topic of mental health, and it was important to me that I find a way to treat the subject with respect while also maintaining the character’s complex history with it, along with her judgements and fears. As an author, it’s our job to expose our character’s flaws and weaknesses, but at the same time, those things can be uncomfortable to face. It was a delicate balance to maintain but I hope readers enjoy going on her journey towards courage and compassion. It was one of the biggest challenges in writing the story, but also very rewarding.
The structure of the book lies in immersing the reader in two separate worlds – the life Annie remembers with her husband and daughter in the country, and her very different life as a soon-to-be-divorced artist in New York and London. I approached the style of writing very differently for each of scenarios, and it was a fun challenge as a writer.
What were your favorite things about writing this book?
The research was so much fun to do. There are some incredible theories woven throughout the story and each one required a deep dive. I could’ve stayed down those rabbit holes endlessly if time allowed! My google search history and bookshelves probably make me look a tad bit strange, but I love it.
One of the main characters of the book is a very special house that Annie has lost, and I loved having the opportunity to assign a personality and spirit to it, honoring the melancholy that we sometimes experience when saying goodbye to a previous home and the period of life we lived there. It can be a challenging and emotional transition that I think gets overlooked at times, and I feel like there will be readers who will resonate with this, and I loved writing about it.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, starting from around the age of seven when I detailed my life in dramatic fashion in a dozen journals. It didn’t hurt that I devoured every novel I could from my mother’s bookshelf each summer break.
Though I’d always loved the idea, I didn’t fully consider writing fiction professionally until my early thirties. I was on the long, winding drive to my daughter’s preschool when I had a sudden idea for a novel and began writing it that night.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
How can our readers get a copy of your book?
A Day Like This is on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Bookshop, available for preorder now and in stores November 1.
What is the best way for our readers to connect with you?
Follow my journeys on Instagram at @kelleylmcneil, FB @kelleymcneilauthor, or online at www.kelleymcneil.com.