Where do you get your ideas?
Target. They have everything at Target. Seriously, many of my ideas spring from my day-to-day life, and then get exaggerated, embellished and sharpened…they get made more fake and, hence, feel more real.
GOOD IN BED began in the wake of a bad break-up, where I wanted to tell the story of a girl who was a lot like me; a guy who was a lot like Satan, and give the girl a happy ending.
IN HER SHOES came from my lifelong curiosity about the sibling relationship, and how people can come, quite literally, from the exact same place, eat the same things for dinner and go on the same vacations, and wind up very different.
LITTLE EARTHQUAKES was in the aftermath of my first child’s birth because there was so much about new motherhood – the good, the bad, and the ridiculous, the feelings of ineptitude and exhilaration and exhaustion – that I wanted to explore.
With GOODNIGHT NOBODY, the least autobiographical of my books, I wanted to use the framework of a whodunit to talk about the suburbs, the nature of being a mother in America today, and the choices and sacrifices women make.
THE GUY NOT TAKEN encompasses eighteen years’ worth of stories, from pieces I wrote in college (extensively revised, which is good news for all of us) to stories that were published as recently as 2005. Some of them have their roots in real life, and others just answer the “what if?” question.
CERTAIN GIRLS was born out of a desire to pick up Cannie’s story at a different, but equally momentous point in her life, to look at one character I’d created through the eyes of another, and to satirize over-the-top bar and bat mitzvahs. Sadly, that last part didn’t work out so well. In the book, the parents of the bat mitzvah girl have hired people to pretend to be paparazzi and photograph the guests as they enter the bash. I thought that was clearly satiric and utterly ridiculous. The month before the book came out, I got an email from a friend who’s sister is getting her MFA in photography, who’d received an invitation to make some extra money by pretending to be a paparazzo. At a bar mitzvah. Ack.
With BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, I wanted to write about friendship, and the questions of what draws girls together, what tears young women apart, and the price your history exacts. On a less la-di-da note, I also wanted to answer this question: What if Thelma and Louise didn’t have to die?
FLY AWAY HOME was born at a press conference — the press conference where Eliot Spitzer, he of the $5,000-a-visit escort and the Ivy League-educated lawyer wife, resigned his position as governor of New York. I watched that performance and thought, as I imagine many viewers did, why on earth is Silda Spitzer, who's done nothing wrong, standing up there with him? The novel began as my attempt to answer that question: what kind of woman would marry a politician? What would her life be like, and what kinds of choices would she make? And, finally, how does an infamous cheating father's actions affect his adult daughters as they try to navigate their own lives and relationships?
THEN CAME YOU had its genesis in a New York Times story about a wealthy woman who couldn’t carry a pregnancy, her older husband (he had four adult children when they married), and the surrogate they eventually hired to carry their baby. The article – you can find it here – raised so many fascinating issues about money, and privilege and love and marriage and how families happen these days. I wanted to examine the issue from every side – the woman who couldn’t get pregnant and wanted a baby to cement her marriage (and ensure her place not only in her older husband’s heart, but in his will), the surrogate with two young sons of her own desperate to contribute to her family’s finances without emasculating her husband, the just-out-of-college stepdaughter who’s not happy about her father’s remarriage and is deeply suspicious about his new bride.
Finally, THE NEXT BEST THING was loosely based on my year in Hollywood, when I co-wrote and co-ran a sit-com…only the protagonist is a twenty-eight-year-old who’s living with her grandmother, desperately in love with her boss, and is at that magical moment where it feels like every decision she makes could be the one that will change her life forever. It features the same characters from the short story “Swim” from THE GUY NOT TAKEN, which I know a lot of people liked, and always wondered, “what ever happened with Ruthie and Gary and her grandmother?” Read the book – it’s out July 3, 2012 – and you’ll find out.
Where do you get your titles?
For my first three books, the titles just came. They were gifts from God, or my subconscious, or the Title Fairy, and they always came very early on in the process. The first three were my ideas – I get asked a lot whether it was my publisher’s idea to call my first book GOOD IN BED and I can tell you, very proudly, that I thought that up all by myself; figuring (correctly!) that there would be people who’d go to bookstores, pick it up and leaf through it (back in those pre-e-reader days, people would go to bookstores, and pick books up, and leaf through them) because they thought it might be a how-to book…or one with pictures!
GOODNIGHT NOBODY was originally going to be called – wait for it – MOMICIDE. I loved the title. My agent and editor, not so much (every time I said “Momicide” to my agent, she’d say, “I have another call.”) So GOODNIGHT NOBODY was named after a line from GOODNIGHT MOON that most parents can quote by heart (“Goodnight comb and goodnight brush/Goodnight nobody, goodnight, mush.”) It’s also a fitting description of Kate’s persistent feelings of invisibility.
THE GUY NOT TAKEN was the title that Glamour gave to a short story they published about a young mother who becomes unhealthily obsessed with her ex-boyfriend’s online wedding registry and can’t stop thinking about what her life might have been like with him. I originally called the piece “Door Number Two,” as in, if you pick what’s behind Door Number One you can’t peek at what’s behind Door Number Two, but the editors thought that was confusing (can’t imagine why). They renamed the story, and, unwittingly, the book.
CERTAIN GIRLS was originally called HESITATION WALTZ, which is an actual dance, and which described, to me, the way various characters in the story hovered on the brink of big changes. I can’t remember exactly when I changed it, but “certain girls” is from a Dan Bern song called “Tiger Woods,” in which he writes “If certain girls don’t look at you/it means that they like you a lot/if other girls don’t look at you/it just means they’re ignoring you/how can you know, how can you know?/which is which, who’s doing what/I guess that you can ask them/which one are you, baby/do you like me or are you ignoring me?/Do you like me or are you ignoring me?”
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER was...well, kind of obvious. It's how girls sign their yearbooks, it's popular shorthand these days, and I was honestly very surprised when I learned that nobody had used it already.
FLY AWAY HOME was another tricky title. At one point, the book was called A GOOD WOMAN (as in, a good woman is worth a price above rubies), but my editor thought, correctly, that it sounded a lot like the CBS show "The Good Wife," which also began with a cheating politician's press conference (but then moved in very different directions than FLY AWAY HOME). I wanted a title that suggested choices, transitions, and the allure of home, the place where they have to take you in. And yes, I know it's the title of a movie. I like it anyhow!
THEN CAME YOU was another tough one. Again, a book about family, but also with young women, romance, all of that summery-fun take-it-to-the-beach stuff. Its working title was THE FAMILY WAY (as in, “she’s in the family way”) because it’s a book about the ways we build families (get it?), but we wanted something that would appeal to people who didn’t necessarily have or want to read about kids. My agent came up with THEN CAME YOU, from the song (“I never knew love before…”)
Which brings us to THE NEXT BEST THING! Another movie title, alas, but the right title for a story about getting almost but not quite what you want, but, instead, the thing you need. THE NEXT BEST THING is set in Hollywood, and we toyed with calling it PILOT SEASON, but worried readers would think it was about airplanes, or was too TV-specific. So TNBT is the name of the TV show that heroine Ruth Saunders creates, and runs, and now it’s the name of the book!
Did you always want to be a writer?
Once I got over my dream of being a ballerina, yes. I wasn’t the happiest kid, and reading and writing were my escapes, and always the things that made me the happiest. I was lucky that my parents were readers, who read to their kids, and who told us that we could read any book in the house, as long as we could give an accurate summary of what we were reading (I remember being eight or so and having my mother take THE BELL JAR away from me after I explained that it was about "a very sad lady named Saliva Plath.") I read constantly as a child, majored in English literature in college, got paid to write every day as a newspaper journalist in the 1990's, and then was lucky enough to be able to devote myself to fiction full-time after GOOD IN BED was published, and IN HER SHOES was written, in 2001. (I think it's important to point out that I sold GOOD IN BED in 2000, and did not quit my day job until Book One was published, Book Two was written, and Books Three and Four were under contract).
How much of GOOD IN BED is true?
Well, Cannie Shapiro does have certain similarities to me – or at least to the twenty-eight-year-old version of me. She was a journalist, a Princeton graduate, survivor of a dysfunctional family with a snarky sense of humor and body-image issues. Unlike Cannie, I never had a boyfriend write about me (thank God). When I wrote the book, I’d never been pregnant, and I’d never met any movie stars.
The only thing that made the translation from my real life to Cannie’s fictional one is my late rat terrier, Wendell, who went by the nom de plume Nifkin, much to his dismay.
Is GOOD IN BED going to be on HBO?
GOOD IN BED was optioned by HBO in 2002, in development for two years, and now…not so much. It continues to make the rounds in Hollywood, where they are all big huge fans of plus-size leading ladies. Seriously. Big fans. Huge. The only obstacle is that, in order to come up with someone even remotely the right size, they’d have to staple both Olsen twins to Blake Lively. So…if there’s any news on the GOOD IN BED on TV or film front, you’ll read it here.
If there’s any news on the GOOD IN BED on TV or film front, you’ll read it here.
In my copy of GOOD IN BED, when Cannie meets Bruce, she's doing an imitation of Tanya eating a crab leg. But she hasn't even met Tanya yet!
Um, yes. Well. About that. Few people realize that GOOD IN BED is actually a science-fiction novel! With a time-space continuum....wormhole...thing. And Cannie...ah, fuck it. It's a mistake. A mistake! Yes, a mistake in my book! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, YOU BASTARDS!?!?!
So you probably know that the Six Day war wasn't seven days long, and how long you wait between a baby boy's birth and his bris.
Yep. Those errors, along with the Tanya gaffe, have been pointed out as well, and corrected in subsequent printings. The only explanation I have for the screw-ups: I'm a bad, bad Jew.
If I find a mistake in your book, do you want to hear about it?
Chances are, at this point, I probably already have (hi, Mom!) But yes, I cringe every time I come across an error, and I do try to get them fixed in reprints. Send your reports along to email@example.com.
My book is missing pages! Can you help?
Ugh. The only thing I hate worse than making mistakes is hearing that the printer made one. Yes, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you a copy of the book with all pages intact.
Are the places in Philadelphia you write about real?
For the most part, they are, and they’re in the neighborhoods I write about. If you’ve got a question about how to find a specific place, email me and ask…but, for starters, the Reading Terminal Market is at 11th and Filbert, the Morning Glory Diner is at 10th and Fitzwater (I also love Sabrina’s, at Ninth and Christian).
Was the movie “In Her Shoes” based on your book?
“In Her Shoes” the movie was based on my book of the same title. It appeared as a feature film that came out in 2005, and I was very, very happy with the way it turned out.
Did you write the adaptation?
No. A film critic friend of mine told me that a novelist trying to adapt her own material was like a mother trying to circumcise her own son. That was all I needed to hear before deciding to let someone else do the cutting! I stayed very hands-off, and was extremely pleased with the results.
Did you get to be in the movie?
Yes, you can see me for about five seconds. My agent and I got to be extras, and we appeared in the Italian Market scene, walking about five paces behind Toni Collette and Brooke Smith. Oh, and I look horrible. Why? Because my sister, who’d filmed her scene in L.A. the week before, called to tell me not to do anything with my hair and makeup, because there would be “people” there to do it. So I arrived at my six a.m. call time bare-faced and uncombed, and joined a room full of two hundred extras…and no “people.” When I called my sister to point this out, she nonchalantly responded, “Oh, well, maybe that’s because I was a featured extra, and you’re just background.”
And that’s what I was. The assistant director would yell “BACKGROUND!” and all two hundred of us would start walking and talking and pretending to buy fruits and vegetables. It was a very interesting day that convinced me that I will never, ever be an actress, or someone who gets looked at for a living.
You can also catch glimpses of my sister Molly with Toni Collette in one of the scenes in the law offices of Lewis, Dommel and Fenick, and my Nanna in the senior prom scene with Shirley MacLaine. I heart nepotism!
Are the places in “In Her Shoes,” the movie, real?
They are. The Italian Market, where Rose and Amy go shopping, is on 9th Street starting at Christian. The Jamaican Jerk Hut, where Rose and Simon spend some time, is near 15th and South.
I think it’s a thrill for any writer when your work gets adapted for the movies, and I was especially happy that “In Her Shoes” was shot in Philadelphia, instead of having the film crew high-tail it to Vancouver with a Styrofoam Liberty Bell. So the Philadelphia you seen on screen is very much the city as it was in 2004.
I think it’s a thrill for any writer when your work gets adapted for the movies, and I was especially happy that “In Her Shoes” was shot in Philadelphia, instead of having the film crew high-tail it to Vancouver with a Styrofoam Liberty Bell. So the Philadelphia you seen on screen is very much the city as it was in 2004.
How much of LITTLE EARTHQUAKES is true?
I bet you can guess what I’m going to say – not much. I think that at different points in my first year of motherhood I felt like each one of the women, although I will say that my pregnancy, delivery, and struggle to find plus-size maternity clothes most mirrored Becky’s. And my daughter Lucy, like Becky’s daughter Ava, did sleep on all fours with her tushy in the air, which was just too cute not to use.
Will any of your other work be made into films?
A few of them have been optioned…but a few factors are at play. “In Her Shoes” was not a huge hit at the box office, and many of my books star – how to put this? – difficult-to-cast protagonists (i.e., they wear double-digit sizes), and are a difficult-to-market mixture of humor and drama. I had a wonderful experience with the adaptation of IN HER SHOES – unlike many novelists, I was actually really, really happy with how it all turned out – so who knows? Maybe someday it’ll happen again.
In LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, when Becky’s having that huge fight with Mimi, why does she say, “I don’t have to do anything but be black and die?” She isn’t black, is she?
No, she's not black, she's just quoting Morgan Freeman in what, judging from my email, is a joke that's only funny to me and my husband. In the movie "Lean on Me," (probably playing on one of your basic cable channels even as we speak), there's a scene where bat-brandishing rebel principal Joe Clark (played by Freeman) is informed that he has to do something. "I don't have to do anything but stay black and die!" he snaps. It's sort of the ultimate screw-you non-sequitur (at least it is in my household). Either way, it's guaranteed to give a character like Mimi pause.
What’s up with the ending of GOODNIGHT NOBODY? I need to know more!
Without giving too much away, I wanted to resolve some of the questions in Kate’s life, and leave other doors open. I loved writing the characters in that book, and I’m pretty sure I’ll come back to them some day, when all will be revealed.
(PS: You can catch a glimpse of Kate and Janie in THEN CAME YOU).
Didn’t I read that you were writing a book about a female superhero called JEZEBEL BRIGHT?
Yes. I wrote it, read it, decided that I wasn’t in love with it, and set it aside for the time being. I hope to get back to it some day.
Where and when do you write?
When I wrote GOOD IN BED, I was single with no kids and working full-time at a newspaper. I wrote every night of the week, except for Thursdays, when my programs were on, and did one long hitch on either Saturday or Sunday afternoons.
When I wrote IN HER SHOES, I was engaged, then married, still with no kids, writing fiction full-time. I’d sleep in, go to the gym, answer email, read People, shop online, watch a little Lifetime, wander to the local coffee shop at around one or two every afternoon, and write until I felt like stopping. Those were the days…Now that I’m the mother of two – one in grade school, one in preschool -- I work for twenty jam-packed hours a week, usually on my laptop in a coffee shop when the kids are in school, or in the afternoons when they’re with a sitter. I think I’ve found a decent balance between work-life and mom-life, where they get to see me happy and fulfilled, doing work I love, and I get to spend plenty of time with them – the morning walks to school, the night-time dinner-story-bath routine.
Who are your favorite writers?
Susan Isaacs is my hero. I love all of her books, adore her spunky, smart heroines, her wonderful dialogue, her brilliant plots, and also, I’m impressed with the life she’s been able to build, balancing best-sellers with marriage and motherhood. I’m also impressed with her generosity toward new writers. She gave me a lovely quote for GOOD IN BED, and I will be forever grateful. I’ve tried to model my writing life after hers, to support new writers with quotes and also on social media, tweeting and Facebooking about the books I adore. She’s one of the reasons I will never be one of those “oh, sorry, I’m too busy to blurb” writers (although I have a lot of sympathy and understanding for those who make that choice).
In terms of straight-up storytelling, I read Stephen King’s THE STAND and THE TALISMAN as a young woman, and he’s one of my favorites to this day.
I read a lot, mostly fiction, all different kinds, from literary to mysteries to thrillers to quote-unquote “women’s fiction.”
I love Nora Ephron and Fran Lebowitz and Anne Lamott, John Irving, Anne Tyler, Peter Straub, Jonathan Kellerman, Robert Crais, Andrew Vachss and Harlan Coben, Tom Perrotta, Kelly Link, Margaret Atwood, Meg Wolitzer, Marge Piercey, Erica Jong, Caroline Leavitt, Jodi Picoult, Laura Lippman, Lionel Shriver, Michael Chabon, Calvin Trillin, Michael Cunningham, Gail Godwin, Elizabeth Strout, Carol Shields, Roald Dahl, Russell Banks, Donna Tartt, Suzanne Finnamore, all of my quote-unquote “chick lit” contemporaries – Sara Pekkanen, Amy Hatvany, Johanna Edwards, Liza Palmer, Marian Keyes, Emily Giffin, Melissa Bank, Pamela Ribon, Sarah Mlynowski, Lolly Winston, Laura Zigman and Helen Fielding. One of my favorite underappreciated books of all time is Tabitha King’s PEARL…and if you want to read GOOD IN BED’s fictional forerunner, check out Gail Parent’s SHEILA LEVINE IS DEAD AND LIVING IN NEW YORK.
How do you feel about your books being called “chick lit?”
It’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the chick lit label is sexist, dismissive, and comes with the built-in implication that what you’ve written is a piece of beach-trash fluff with as much heft and heart as a mouthful of pink cotton candy that doesn’t deal with anything other than boys and shoes.
On the other hand, I know that the term gives publishers and, more importantly, booksellers and readers, a quick and easy shorthand with which to refer to books that feature smart, funny, struggling, relatable female protagonists. If slapping a lot of pink, a disembodied female torso, naked legs and/or cheesecake on the cover guarantees that my book will get noticed and picked up, that’s about all I can ask for. My readers know what I’m going for, even if the critics sometimes miss the point, or, more likely, ignore the genre entirely, and I’d rather have loyal readers than respectful reviews in all the smart places.
What’s your problem with Jonathan Franzen?
I don’t have a problem with Jonathan Franzen – especially now that he’s made peace with Oprah. I have a problem with the way the literary establishment rushes to coronate the latest work of what would be called “domestic fiction” if John were Jane, while covering women’s quote-unquote ‘literary fiction’ in the most cursory or dismissive ways possible, and ignoring much of what’s considered women’s genre fiction completely. It’s worth noting that Jonathan Franzen himself has acknowledged in interviews that there’s a problem with the way women’s work gets treated.
What’s your problem with Jennifer Egan?
I wasn’t thrilled when Jennifer Egan used the occasion of her Pulitzer victory to bash other women’s work – particularly, women writers who’d already endured the indignity of being plagiarized, and then had to deal with the humiliation of having a big-deal literary writer tell the world that their novels were not worth being ripped off in the first place. It’s worth noting that Egan apologized for her remarks, so I actually don’t have a problem with her, either.
What’s your problem with Lena Dunham?
Again, I was not thrilled when Dunham, the girl-of-the-moment and creator of the HBO TV series “Girl” was asked by the Times (in an obviously looking-for-trouble question) “have you ever read a book about girls or women that made you angry or disappointed or just extremely annoyed?” she answered, “I don’t have a taste for airport chick-lit, even in a guilty-pleasure way. Any book that is motored by the search for a husband and/or a good pair of heels makes me want to move to the outback. If there is a cartoon woman’s torso on the front or a stroller with a diamond on it, I just can’t.”
First, the books she’s railing against don’t really get published any more, and haven’t been in vogue, or in airport bookstores, since, oh, 2006 (and I actually poked around the Internet for a while, and couldn’t find a single book with a stroller with a diamond on it on its cover. Strollers, yes. Diamonds, yes. Strollers with diamonds? No).
I also feel that, given the well-documented difficulties women have getting their books on the shelves, their shows on the air, the work on the op-ed pages of big newspapers and important magazines, women writers should at least try to support one another. As for me, if I don’t have anything nice to say about another woman’s work, I try not to say anything at all. Please note, I’m not suggesting that female critics go easy on female artists in the name of sisterhood…and other women writers are, of course, free to make their own choices.
What's your problem with #fridayreads?
In short, transparency. The people running the “fridayreads” meme, in which, every Friday, participants would tweet the title of what they were reading, were selling services to publishers, and not labeling those tweets as promotional (i.e., a Fridayreads organizer would tweet “X is the funniest book I’ve read in ages!” without using a hashtag to disclose that she’d been paid to promote that book…and you’d have to dig deep on the Fridayreads’ website’s FAQ to discover that there was money changing hands).
When this all came out, the explanation the founders offered boiled down to “the Internet is scary and confusing! We don’t understand the rules, and we didn’t mean to do anything wrong.”
Happily, since the kerfuffle, the Fridayreads employees have made changes. Instead of just going by Twitter handles, they use first and last names, and their profiles are clear about where else they work, so readers can tell who they are, what else and where else they write, and make an informed decision about whether they want to participate in the “tell us what you’re reading” game with a clear understanding of who’s running, and profiting, from it.
As for me, if you want to know what I’m reading, or what books I’d recommend, check my Twitter feed, or my Facebook page, or my blog. If I love a book I shout it from the rooftops, and sometimes even hold giveaways where if you buy the book I love I’ll send you one of mine for free.
Did you have a show on TV?
For a hot minute, I did! I worked with Jeff Greenstein, of “Will and Grace” and “Desperate Housewives” fame, and wrote a pilot called "State of Georgia,” that starred Raven-Symoné and aired during the summer of 2011 on the ABC Family Network (biggest problem about having a show on ABC Family – explaining to people that it means your show is on cable, NOT ABC, and no, you have no idea where on their particular cable box they can find it).
As it turned out, the world was not desperately waiting for a Jennifer Weiner/ Raven-Symoné collaboration. The stars were incredible, the writers were hilarious, the cast and crew were all great…but it was tough to do a what was meant to be a show about a big girl trying to make it as an actress, only to be constantly told she was too big for the part, with an actress who was no longer big, and who looked exactly like a Broadway lead (witness the fact that, after Georgia was cancelled, Raven-Symoné was cast as…the lead in a Broadway musical).
So I had my Hollywood heartbreak…but the show was fun while it lasted. I loved working in a writers’ room, and being on a set, where if a joke or a line wasn’t working you could rewrite it right there on the spot and shoot it two minutes later (what writer hasn’t re-read her published work and thought, “I wish I’d said that better/differently?” In TV, you get that chance!)
If you were one of the three people who are not related to me who watched “State of Georgia,” thanks. Living and working in Hollywood was an amazing experience (I miss my fellow writers every day), and gave me a lot of great material for THE NEXT BEST THING.
What's THE NEXT BEST THING?
My new novel, coming July 3, 2012. It tells the story of Ruth Saunders, the star of the short story “Swim” (which, during April and May of 2012, you can download for free anywhere e-books are sold).
Ruthie, who survived a car accident that killed her parents with a badly-scarred face and body, moved to L.A. with her grandmother to try to find a job writing for TV. As the book begins, she’s thrilled when the show she’s written loosely based on her own life gets picked up….and then has her heart broken when her personal and professional life begin to fall apart (it doesn’t help that the supposed-to-be-a-confident-curvy-girl star loses a lot of weight between shooting the pilot and the first episode).
It’s hard to be objective about my own work, but I think THE NEXT BEST THING is the funniest book I’ve written since GOOD IN BED. There’s a cute dog! And steamy sex scenes! And a character named Loud Lloyd! The whole thing is, of course, informed by the year I spent in Hollywood, a land where there were sometimes paparazzi hanging around the pickup lane at my then three-year-old’s preschool: what it’s like to deal with actors and executives, work in a writers’ room, and shoot an old-school sit-com in front of a live studio audience. I hope readers have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. The experience of being on the air, and being cancelled (and learning about said cancellation on the Internet) was tough…but, like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and gives you great stories to tell.
I wrote a novel, too! Can I send it to you for you to read?
Email me. We’ll talk. Please note: I can only read material that’s under contract for publication, and at this point, unless you have extraordinary extenuating circumstances, I'm only going to give you a quote if you're a first-time author. If I've given you a quote already you can use it forever, but I'm unlikely to blurb a second book. (One per customer's fair, right?)
I wrote a novel, too! Can I send it to your agent so she can help me get it published?
Unfortunately, while my agent is legally allowed to read unpublished material, she isn’t taking on any new clients right now. Again, check out the “For Writers” link on advice for how to find an agent of your own.
I haven’t written a novel, but I have a great idea for one. Want to hear it?
Unfortunately, for legal reasons, I’m going to have to decline. My advice: write your own book, and then avail yourself of one of the many invaluable books, and helpful websites, that will tell you how to find an agent and a publisher.
I haven’t written a novel, and I don’t have an idea for one, but you seem really cool, so maybe we could get together and have coffee!
I am not really cool. I am not cool at all. In person, I am incredibly boring. My conversational topics are almost entirely limited to “The Bachelor”, and how I don’t like old people. I rarely manage to look even a tenth as good as I do in my author photos. My table manners are iffy. Many days I barely comb my hair, and when I’m not writing I’m usually holding either a kid’s sticky hand or a leash (we recently adopted a new rat terrier from a shelter, where their definition of “housebroken” was a little different than our own, so now I’m doing this weird kind of trainer-endorsed attachment-parenting thing where her leash gets tied to my belt indoors, thus literally joining us at the hip). So in the interests of not having you be disappointed by the fact that, in person, I am an unkempt dog-wearing weirdo, I am going to respectfully decline. But thanks! And please come to one of my readings, where nine times out of ten my hair is combed.
Will you come do a reading in my city?
I’m not the one who picks the cities I visit on my book tours. That would be my publisher (not coincidentally, the one who pays for the book tours). But it’s certainly worth asking – I’m happy to tell my corporate masters about potential places to visit. If you want to send me an email about a reading, please include the bookstore in your neighborhood, so I can forward that as well.
Will you visit, or call, my bookclub?
Before my older daughter’s birth, I did lots of book club visits, phone calls, and online chats. But now that I’m one of the responsible parties for two children, I’m trying to keep my evenings free.
All of my books come with discussion guides for book clubs, and if you poke around the website, you’ll find them here, too.
Will you send an autographed book for my school or organization’s auction for charity?
Probably! Email me, and please put DONATION REQUEST in the subject line.
Will you sign my copy of your book?
If you contact Head House Books here in Philadelphia at email@example.com and tell them which book you want and what you want it to say, I will bop over there and sign it, they’ll send it along, and you will get your signed book, along with the warm, happy glow of knowing you’ve supported a wonderful independent bookshop.
Will you come speak to my group?
Contact Jessica Bartolo at Greater Talent Network, and she'll tell you all about my availability, my rates, and about how I have to have green M&Ms and Evian mist-sprayers back stage. You can reach her at 212.645.4200, or at JessicaB@greatertalent.com
Do you really read your email? Do you answer it all?
Back in my early days of being published, I would read and respond to every single piece of mail I got. These days, it’s either spend my working hours answering email or spend them writing books. Most of the time, I opt for writing books...but I do try to read as much as I can, and answer as often as it’s possible. If you want to stay in touch, feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, where I’m @jenniferweiner. I write funny things! Time Magazine said so!
Of all the books you've written, which is your favorite?
Oh, that’s like asking a mom to pick her favorite kid. I can’t. They’re all special to me for different reasons, and they all remind me of being at a different place in my life – single and lonely, married with children, watching my kids grow up and my relationships with them, and my friends, and my mom and my siblings, change. I love them all for different reasons…and, maybe the honest answer is “the one I’m working on right now.”
What’s your sign?
Somebody actually asked me this at a reading once, at the Powell’s in Portland and I said, “Aries.”
The woman who asked said, “okay, what’s your rising sign?” I said, “I have no idea and I don’t even know what that is.” She said, “What time were you born?” Again, I had no idea, so I called my mother, who threw her hands in the air and said, “There were four of you! Do you think I have any idea what time any of you were born?” After careful questioning and careful applications of mockery, she narrowed it down to “I think it was light out.” So I don’t know my rising sign and probably never will. Which is sad!
Is Jennifer Weiner really your name?
This isn’t actually a frequently-asked question – in fact, I’ve only ever been asked it once – but it was too funny not to include. The answer I gave, when I stopped laughing, is that Jennifer Weiner is, actually, my name, and that if I was going to come up with a fake I would choose something that was more alphabetically advantageous (not to mention easier to pronounce.)
So your last name’s not pronounced Weener?
No, it’s the infinitely more attractive and less-mockworthy Wyner. Or Whiner, if you’re nasty.
But people say it Weener anyhow.
Yes, I’ve heard that once or twice.
I bet that sucks!
That’s a bet you would win.