Editor Julia Pastore on Brooke Berman’s No Place Like Home

I don’t like to move around much. I’ve lived in the same apartment for the past six years and if all goes well, my well-lined hands will still be dusting the crown moldings, prying at the crooked linen closet door, and grabbing books (the ink and paper kind) off of my custom-made shelves (thanks, dad) sixty years from now.

My best friend Adriana is completely different. Over the past ten years, she’s moved hither (London) and yon (San Diego) and I’ve visited her in studio apartments barely the size of a futon, 3-bedroom flats shared by four people, and my very own living room (if you don’t mind sleeping on your side, that pullout couch is pretty comfortable). So when she finally decided to move back to New York City and my time zone after a few years in Wales, I thought a celebratory night on the town was in order—drinks, dinner, a play, the works.

What better play than Brooke Berman’s Hunting and Gathering? About a group of friends trying to find their place in the world and at least a room to call their own if not a whole house, I thought we’d both get a kick out of it. The reviews had been glowing and after two hours in the dark with Brooke’s well-rounded characters, and clever, thoughtful prose, so were we. Hmmm, I thought, could this be a book? The shortest leap seemed to be from play to novel, and since I don’t edit fiction, I decided it probably wouldn’t be the right project for me even if I could connect with her.

Later that week, though, a colleague walked into my office and handed me the front page of the Home & Garden section of the New York Times. “She should write a book,” he said, and pointed to a feature story on Brooke and her real-life adventures in real estate and the arts. Aha! This, I now knew, could be a smart, frank, lively memoir about finding the true meaning of home and realizing your dreams, perfect for my list. But was I too late?

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When you see an article that could grow into a book already printed in the New York Times (or the New Yorker or the Atlantic), it usually is too late. Odds are, a literary agent is just one click away from submitting a proposal based on your “brilliant discovery” or “bright idea” to editors all around town. Timing is everything and like Sandra Bullock, editors are often the last to know.

But—I am happy to say—not this time! We managed to connect, and Brooke was interested in writing a memoir. My publisher and editorial board thought the project had legs, too. And, about nine months later, after a few coffee dates and several emails, I was thrilled to receive a formal proposal and sample chapters for No Place Like Home. (Those jokes about publishing and pregnancy are no joke.) And the rest is a beautiful, printed hardcover. And ebook.

Brooke Berman’s humorous and honest memoir in 39 apartments is about her realization that home is much more than an address. What makes a home a home? Post a comment below to enter for the chance to win a copy of No Place Like Home. Limited quantities, while supplies last. Winners chosen at random. No purchase necessary.

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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