Meloy Makes Family Ties

The Santerre family, who ‘sin with the gusto of true Catholics,’ one critic has said, are the subject of a new novel, ‘A Family Daughter.’
On Thursday, April 20, Maile Meloy, alumna of the UC Irvine master’s program in fiction, returned to UCI to read excerpts from this new work as a part of the UCI Bookstore’s Author Series.
‘A Family Daughter’ is a companion novel to her first novel, ‘Liars and Saints,’ also focusing on the Santerre family. However, her recent novel introduces new characters and a different plot.
The newest work is narrated by Abby, granddaughter of ‘Liars and Saints’ matriarch Yvette, who grows from a 7-year-old girl with chickenpox to a college girl involved with both her uncle and her TA.
Geoffrey Wolff, one of the faculty members of the MFA fiction program, introduced Meloy and discussed her strengths as a writer.
‘She understands wonderfully how kin are connected one to another,’ Wolff said.
After her introduction, Meloy said that she was happy to be back at UCI.
‘I got so much out of my time here. I continue to get so much out of my connections to UCI. I think it’s a pleasure,’ Meloy said. ‘Traffic isn’t a pleasure getting down here, but being here’s really nice.’
Meloy read three short chapters from the first part of the book. Following her reading, she answered questions from the audience.
The first questioner asked if she came into this novel with an idea in mind.
‘People asked if I was going to write a sequel, and ‘Liars and Saints’ ended in the present and to move forward in time I would’ve had to move into the future. I felt like I was done with those characters. I really wanted to move on,’ Meloy said.
When Meloy was experiencing what it felt like to have her first novel published, she said she began to think about what it might be like to dramatize this experience. She thought that it might be interesting if one of the Santerres wrote a book.
‘I did have an idea that someone in this book would write a novel and that the novel would be ‘Liars and Saints,’ which is nothing that I had ever done. I had never done anything self-reflexive like that or metafictional. So it was going to be sort of a straightforward realistic novel on its own,’ Meloy said.
Despite this initial concept, she said, ‘The plot changed a lot as I wrote it. The first draft started out in Mexico. It was totally different.