Meg Howrey on the Origins of They’re Going to Love You
“They’re Going to Love You is my idea of a perfect book. It is about art, life, death, love, and family and it is beautifully and sharply written. I cried several times while reading it, and was sorry to let it go when I was done. I cannot recommend it enough.” —Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All This Could Be Yours
Meg Howrey’s beautiful, gripping novel, They’re Going to Love You, immerses the reader in the world of professional ballet from the first sentence and takes them on a journey through decades of family relationships, secrets, and drama, from the AIDS crisis in New York City to present-day Los Angeles. Howrey is a former dancer, so we weren’t surprised that she set her latest novel in that world, but, it turns out, she was. Find out more in this behind-the-scenes story about the origin of They’re Going to Love You.
My second published novel —The Cranes Dance—was set in the dance world and I never planned on returning to ballet for plot or theme. When the Covid 19 pandemic began, I’d just begun making notes on a story I’d been mulling for many years—although all I really knew at that point was the relationships between the characters and the facts of a betrayal that had split them apart. Maybe it was the confinement and restriction of pandemic that inspired me to make the characters dancers? I was thinking too, of the very different response, both politically and socially, of the AIDS crisis. Those we lost, and how those who survived had to carry that loss.
Years ago, I went to a performance of the wonderful poet Mandy Kahn and one of her pieces was to invite the assembled audience—if they felt moved to do so— to stand and say the words “I will be the first to lay my weapons down.” A kind of living poem, of radical pacifism. This seemed beautiful to me, and I was interested in how strongly I did not want to stand and say these words. I did not want to lay my weapons down. I was angry. As a human, an American, a woman, an artist. I wanted all my weapons. I wanted to fight.
This too, was in my head as I drafted the book. These are characters who don’t want to lay their weapons down. They’ve found ways to wield their pain, their loss, their estrangement. They’ve built lives, marriages, and art in and around these things. I wanted to explore how this worked—how it created a sense of power or control, even freedom or success—and how it absolutely didn’t work. I wanted to know what these characters had to forgive in each other, and in themselves.