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Writing ‘Mr. Nice Guy’: Married authors create a romantic comedy

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This “Nice Guy” was finished together!

A pair of married Park Slope writers have teamed up to write a sexy romantic comedy set in the dizzying world of Manhattan publishing. To write “Mr. Nice Guy,” which comes out on Oct. 16, Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer drew on their experience toiling for magazines underneath a handful of celebrity writers.

“We like to think that this book captures media at the moment that it’s in right now — it’s a transitional moment,” said Jason Feifer, now the editor of Entrepreneur magazine. “Inside a place like Conde Nast, there’s Anna Wintour, and then there are a million underpaid 22-year-olds. It creates a kind of head-spinning experience and we wanted to capture that.”

The couple, who now live in Park Slope with their three-year-old son, also captured the bizarre feeling of unpaid interns mingling with movie stars while covering premiere parties, or being invited to splashy events sponsored by liquor companies

“The excess of all of that went into the book,” said Miller, author of the novels “The Year of the Gadfly,” and “The Heart You Carry Home.”

The book follows a pair of struggling magazine writers, Carmen and Lucas, who have a one-night stand and then write regular dueling columns reviewing each other’s performance in bed. Feifer came up with the idea years ago while writing a dating column, but said he could not make it work as a novel.

“I noodled on that for a very long time, but I’m not a fiction writer,” he said. “My career in journalism.”

When Miller sold her second novel and was looking for a new project, Feifer suggested she take over his old idea. Instead, she proposed working on it together, with each playing to their strengths.

“We had very defined roles, which I think is important,” said Miller.

They agreed on a general story arc, and then Miller took over writing most of the narrative sections, while Feifer wrote each character’s columns.

One element did have to change, said Miller. In an early version, a senior editor assigned the characters to sleep together and then write about it, an idea that is outmoded in the #MeToo era.

“This could have been passable in the last couple of years, but it would never fly these days,” said Miller. “It had to be her decision to do this, but she is kind of manipulated into it. And that’s something that she really has to grapple with over the course of the book — Carmen coming to terms with the fact that she’s made a lot of sacrifices.”

The launch party will feature a conversation with Stacy London, from the television show “What Not to Wear,” who Miller met and befriended during one of the splashy parties of her early journalism days.

“Mr. Nice Guy” launch party at WeWork (500 Seventh Ave. at W. 37th Street in Manhattan, www.mrniceguynovel.com). Oct. 16 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Posted 12:00 am, October 12, 2018
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