Debut novel wins big money, rave reviews and Amy Poehler’s love

The book, about family relationships, was snapped up in a seven-figure deal by Ecco, a HarperCollins imprint.

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Powered by automated translation

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney was on her way to meet her family for brunch in New York when she had the idea for the opening scene of her debut novel, The Nest.

Sweeney imagined family members “all needing to meet but all needing a drink before they met and all getting their drink in proximity to each other without knowing that they were all doing the same thing,” she says.

The writer, from Los Angeles, was intrigued by why they needed to drink before seeing one another and what the meeting was about.

Sweeney said she is surprised by “how little I had to know going in”.

“I wrote my way along,” she says. “When I would start to panic I would just remind myself that I only had to figure out what happened in the next chapter, what happened in the next scene. I didn’t have to be looking way, way down the road. What surprised me is when you take that incremental approach, you do reach a tipping point where all of a sudden things start to come together.” As Sweeney found her story, she also found a lot of interest from the publishers.

The Nest, which will be published Tuesday, was snapped up in a seven-figure deal by Ecco, a HarperCollins imprint.

A book trailer featuring actress Ellie Kemper and Transparent creator Jill Soloway talking about their own families is available online.

Amy Poehler praises the book as “intoxicating” in a quote on the front cover.

“She’s been a friend of mine for a long time – I’m really, really lucky,” Sweeney says.

“Amy and I met right after she moved to New York, and in fact, we met in a book club. [The club] was very short-lived. It was a lot of performers in the comedy improv world, so everyone was always cancelling. Finally it was like, ‘Why don’t we go out for cocktails instead? Forget the book part.”’

Sweeney says one of the weirdest things for her has been all the talk about the book before its publication date.

“My family members are really confused,” she says. “I keep getting emails like, ‘How are there reviews on Amazon? When can we get the book?’”

Meanwhile, she has put off any discussion about The Nest being adapted for film because she finds it "distracting".

“I hadn’t even finished the revisions … and people wanted to talk about changing the book or how if it were a TV series, what would the next season be?”, she says.

So, why does she think people are so interested in the novel?

“The combination of family and money is very potent and it really, really seems to strike a chord with people.”

* Associated Press