Taylor Jenkins Reid is the New York Times bestselling author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones & the Six, and Malibu Rising. Daisy Jones and the Six is currently being adapted into a 13-episode limited series co-produced by Hello Sunshine and Amazon Studios. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is in the process of being adapted for Netflix by Liz Tigelaar.
Reid's latest novel, Carrie Soto Is Back, releases Aug. 30 and follows the infamous tennis player who made an appearance in Malibu Rising. Growing up, Carrie was able to achieve an unbelievably successful tennis career with her father as her coach, breaking as many records as she could manage until she retired. Now, in 1994, at age 37, Carrie finds herself at the US Open watching her record be taken by the fiercely talented Nikki Chan. It’s then that Carrie decides to emerge from retirement in order to reclaim her record — and she’ll do it with her father by her side. It's an emotional story about ambition and drive and what it means to be a woman who wants it all — examining what success truly means — while the world is watching.
We had the opportunity to chat with Taylor and discuss her novel in depth, including when we may be able to expect to see Evelyn and Daisy come to life and her path to publication.
Farrah Penn: Hi Taylor! This is Farrah with BuzzFeed. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today. How are you doing?
Taylor Jenkins Reid: I’m good! Very excited to get to talk to you today.
FP: Same! I’m a big fan of your books and am thrilled to get to chat with you about them today. Let’s dive right in and talk about Carrie Soto Is Back! What drew you to writing a story about Carrie? (Were you inspired at all by Serena Williams?)
TJR: I love Serena Williams with my whole soul — it would be impossible for me to write about tennis without her being a main inspiration. She was my initial draw to the sport — her and Venus — to begin with. Back in 2019 when I was considering my next project, I was fascinated by all the coverage of Serena’s Grand Slam singles titles record. And I started wondering what defines the “Greatest of All Time.” Carrie Soto came out of that — that question of when do you have enough? The titles you have, the records you’ve set, what number is enough?
FP: Yes, I loved the relatability of that internal journey Carrie experiences throughout this story. The “what is enough” question feels as though it will resonate with many who read this book! Speaking specifically to tennis, did you find it difficult to craft the high-stakes tension of this particular sport in this written format?
TJR: I felt very much out of my depth! I had to work very hard to describe the matches as Carrie would and to keep them interesting and lively for people not interested in tennis but still grounded and realistic for people that know the sport. Carrie plays a lot of matches over the year, so it's a lot of tennis! But I tried to make sure it never detracts from the story — this is a book you can read even if you’ve never watched a day of tennis in your life.
FP: It’s very impressive! You certainly succeeded in keeping it interesting. I myself am a very casual tennis fan, and I had a hard time tearing myself away from those intense scenes. It all came together so well. What was the research process like for you?
TJR: It was so much fun! Research is the best part of writing a book, to me. It’s all about finding little details and following what interests me. For this one, I remember watching the 30 for 30 documentary, This Is What They Want, and feeling such a level of excitement that I could barely contain myself. I bombarded into my husband’s office while he was trying to write and insisted he hear about Jimmy Connors’ brilliant run at the US Open in 1991 at the age of 39. I find that I’m on the right track when that feeling comes — that I have found a world I find so interesting that I’m bursting at the seams with ideas.
FP: I love that! I’d love to talk a little bit about Carrie as a character. She’s ambitious, ruthless, motivated, and driven, but she’s also someone who is deeply passionate and caring. She’s quite complex, yet we as readers resonate with her. What was the most challenging and the most rewarding part of crafting Carrie?
TJR: I think the most fun part about writing Carrie Soto was capturing what she says and does that other women have been taught not to do. She’s sharp-tongued and arrogant, and it was great fun to be able to let her say things most of us wouldn’t dare. But if she’s only that — if she’s all vinegar — then where does the complexity come in? She needs more to her. That bite has to come from somewhere. And it was very satisfying to dig into how a person becomes as brutal as Carrie Soto and what, deep down, she feels she’s missing. Because then you understand what she yearns for. That’s the vulnerability.
FP: It was very satisfying to follow her journey as well! What made you want to write historical fiction?
TJR: It came about very organically. When I decided I wanted to tell the story of one woman’s life over many decades in Hollywood with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I had to, by necessity, start crafting a world largely in the past so that it could be recounted in the present. But I quickly fell in love with writing about the 20th century. I have such fun trying to render times we can’t go back to. It feels like an escape to me — a way for me to get lost in the world as much as the reader. I absolutely love it.
FP: It’s truly a fantastic escape into the past for readers! I feel like I learn something new with every book of yours that I read. And speaking of Evelyn Hugo — we’re SO excited for the adaptations of both Evelyn and Daisy Jones & the Six! I think I read that Daisy Jones finished wrapping. Did you have a chance to visit the set/cast?
TJR: I did! It was so fun! The cast is really incredible. They are all so talented, so perfectly cast in their roles. I like all of them as people, which is a lovely thing to be able to say. And as fun as it was to write Daisy Jones and be able to dive into that world as an author, it’s a whole other level to be on that set and see the band in person. I cannot wait for everyone to see what a stunning job they’ve all done. Riley and Sam are absolutely brilliant. Brilliant!
FP: I’m so excited — and I know many other fans of these books are as well! The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is set to be adapted into a movie while Daisy Jones & the Six will be a TV series. What made you (and/or those involved) want to adapt these two books into two different formats?
TJR: There are so many factors that go into these decisions. But there is something fitting to me about Evelyn Hugo, the movie star, getting her own movie. Ultimately, creative decisions and business decisions come down to who you want to work with. You have to sell the project to the group of people you believe will honor it best and make decisions from there. I want to hand my material over to people who get it. And I’ve been lucky to have been able to do that. Hello Sunshine and Amazon have done a beautiful job bringing Daisy to life, and Netflix and the people at 3dot are doing an incredible job rendering Evelyn in full.
FP: It is very fitting for Evelyn to get her own movie! And it’s so great to hear that everyone involved is equally as passionate about these stories. Okay, I don’t want to pry TOO much more, but is there anything else you can tell us about these upcoming adaptations? (Perhaps when we can expect to see one or the other?)
TJR: I have no idea! I’m hoping you’ll be seeing Daisy on Amazon early next year, but I have no control over these things. And in the meantime, I’m trying to move all my projects along as quick as we can so we can deliver something really fun to readers. To me, that’s, first and foremost, what these adaptations are — a love letter to the people who bought the book and have shown up to support these characters and share them. If you loved Daisy in the book, I feel confident Riley Keough’s Daisy is going to feel thrilling. And I’m so lucky to be able to say that.
FP: That is beautifully said! What has your reaction been to the outpouring of love on TikTok (and beyond!) for your books? Do you remember the moment when the popularity of your books fully hit you?
TJR: I am not sure I fully have processed any of it, to be honest with you! My life is mostly me in my home office asking my husband what we should get for lunch. But I will tell you that when I found out that Evelyn Hugo hit the New York Times list for the first time years after its release, I was completely floored. And that was a moment in which I dared to think, “Wow, maybe I’m doing something people really like. Maybe I’m close to becoming the writer I always hoped to be.” But then I immediately came back down to earth and asked my husband what we should get for lunch.
FP: Haha! Well, your stories are certainly resonating with so many readers out there! I know it’s so different for every author, but what was your journey into publishing like? And what is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
TJR: I have had a few setbacks on the way to being published (first book was rejected by everyone, had to leave that agent and start again) and setbacks after being published (low sales with initial books, editors leaving), but while I think it’s important to share the struggles so people know they aren’t alone, I also am, quite frankly, stunned at the good fortune I’ve had that brought me here. I had editors give me second chances, which many writers do not get. I’ve had a support system that allowed me to write books for low advances to try to build my career. I’ve been given the space to learn how to thrive. And I will always be grateful for that.
FP: That’s very encouraging to hear! I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, so I’ll end on this question! How would you describe Carrie Soto Is Back using just 3 emojis?
TJR: Hmmm okay, let’s see!! I want to get this right!
TJR: 🎾 ❤️ 🤞
FP: That’s perfect! Taylor, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. It was such a pleasure getting to chat with you! I cannot wait for everyone to read Carrie’s story!
TJR: Thank YOU! This was so fun!