Though Jennifer Weiner might wriggle under the appellation, if chick-lit has a champion purveyor, she looks like this: gentle eyes, calm of disposition, with a razor-sharp understanding of everything she observes.
Weiner’s books have been judged alternately empty and insipid and fully engaged with the pulse of contemporary American womanhood. Whatever busloads of critics might have said since the publication of Weiner’s debut novel, 2001’s Good in Bed, a lot of people would probably vote for the latter. Over 11 million copies of Weiner’s books are in print in 36 different countries. Her second novel, 2002’s In Her Shoes, was turned into a movie with Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz. The author was actually in one scene of the film.
Weiner’s latest book, Best Friends Forever (Simon & Schuster), explores the impact of love, desire and familial loss on a friendship between two young women. “Former mousy types, rejoice!” writes People. “In Weiner’s delicious latest, a popular girl hits trouble long after high school and only the geeky pal she once shunned can help.”
If you can’t get enough Jennifer, you need not despair. The author signed a development deal with ABC Studios last year. She says she’s working with “many fine writers to come up with comedies and dramas that feature my kind of characters and humor (i.e., smart, snarky, soulful, possibly larger than the average leading lady).”
A Snapshot of… Jennifer Weiner
Most recent book: Best Friends Forever (Simon & Schuster)
Born: DeRidder, Louisiana
Birthday: March 28
Web site: www.jenniferweiner.com
What’s your favorite city?
I love Philadelphia, but I always love visiting San Francisco.
You only have six hours to spend there. What do you do?
Go to Yank Sing for dim sum. Go to the Ferry Building farmer’s market for flowers and bread, and the Cowgirl Creamery for cheeses. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to build up an appetite. Take the cable car back to the Fairmont Hotel, and have wine, and cheese, and a nap.
What food do you love?
What food don’t I love? I’m a big fan of staples, cooked well: a good roast chicken and mashed potatoes, rib roast, grilled fresh vegetables
What food have you vowed never to touch again?
Oh, there’s nothing I won’t eat again — I’m all about second chances — but I just had a bad run-in with macadamia nuts and sake, so I probably won’t be mixing those two again.
What’s on your nightstand?
About 30 books that I’m either reading or re-reading: Kate Christensen’s Trouble, Julie Metz’s Perfection and Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three.
What inspires you?
Real life; my family and my friends. My daughters are both very funny.
What are you working on now?
I’m in the early stages of a novel about three different women — young, middle-aged and old — who find themselves thrown together, in the wake of various personal crises, in a big old house on the beach in Connecticut and I’m starting to gather the pieces for a potential non-fiction piece, which would be a big change for me.
Tell us about your process.
My process is necessarily dictated by my kids, and the ensuing lack of time. Most of my work happens in the afternoons (when I have a sitter), on a laptop, in a coffee shop, where the kids can’t find me. I really need to leave the house in order to get any serious work done, and I try, as best I can, to replicate the atmosphere of a newsroom when I find a workspace — I like a little hustle and bustle, and music and conversation, not to mention latte and scones.
But really, I’m working all the time — there’s always a part of my brain that’s thinking about the work in progress, whether I’m at the park, pushing my baby in a swing, or in the minivan, waiting to pick up my big girl from school.
Lift your head and look around. What do you see?
I’m working at my kitchen table, so … a stack of bills I’m about halfway through paying. A bag from Target filled with sunscreen and sippy cups and Season 2 of Arrested Development that I need to unload.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I think as soon as I learned how to read. I remember being six, and my first-grade teacher Mrs. Palen giving me extra paper and letting me stay in for recess so I could keep writing a story.
If you couldn’t write books, what would you be doing?
Hmm. Not sure that newspaper gig would have worked out, long-term. I
probably would have gotten a PhD in something and taught.
To date, what moment in your career has made you happiest?
The day I got to go home and tell my mother that Simon & Schuster was
publishing my book. The joy only lasted a few seconds. Then I had to tell
her what the title was.
For you, what is the easiest thing about being writer?
Writing has always been the thing that I love best and came most easily to me. I love just about everything about the work I do.
What’s the most difficult?
The business of publishing: dealing with marketing and promotion and knowing that, as far as some reviewers are concerned, whatever I’ve written is just a big spun-sugar pink nothing.
What question do you get asked about your writing most often?
“Where do you get your ideas?” “What time of day do you write?” “Longhand or
What’s the question you’d like to be asked?
Nobody’s ever asked about all of the water imagery and swimming in my books. That would be fun to talk about.
What question would like never to be asked again?
“How do you feel about your books being called chick lit?” Not great. Next question!
Please tell us about your most recent book.
Best Friends Forever is the story of two girls who are best friends all through high school, then have a tragic break-up, and reunite on the eve of the 15th reunion, after the glamorous friend who skipped town does something terrible, and shows up on the doorstep of her mousy homebody ex-best-friend, saying that she’s the only one who can help.
Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
Is this really the time to mention the third nipple?