This week I had the chance to meet Jessica Benson, the author of the fabulous new mom lit read Carpool Confidential. Jessica shares the story of how she changed careers and left a job in PR in the publishing industry to become a full-time novelist. Plus, she also talks about her family's recent move from Brooklyn to London and gives readers the inside scoop on her favorite authors and mom blogs she visits on a regular basis.
Jessica Benson was bitten by the writing bug early on in her career when she was a publicity and rights director for David Godine. Realizing that she had more to do in the publishing world than simply promote someone else's books, Jessica enrolled in NYU where she received a Master's Degree in Journalism. While she initially thought she'd pursue a career as a magazine writer, Jessica quickly realized that juggling a newborn and writing about top 10 breast feeding tips were just not her cup of milk. "Every time I was about to do an interview, I'd have a diaper explosion on my hands," she recalls. Had she been 22 years old with no kids, Jessica says she may have been travelling to remote destinations to cover hard news pieces, instead, she found herself writing informative stories for new moms and says she pretty much became bored with these features and decided instead to venture into new territory as an aspiring novelist.
Jessica hired a babysitter so she could head to Starbucks and write her first book and she soon found herself finding success as a romance novelist. After three successful turns in the romance world, Jessica tried her hand at mom lit - writing about what she knew best - being a mom in Brooklyn who experiences a big change in her life when her husband decides to turn their family's life upside down when he leaves his stable finance job behind to produce a Barry Manilow retrospective. In Jessica's case, she's still happily married with two kids who are now 10 and 14, but her family recently experienced a major change in their lives when her husband got a new job overseas and they all made the move from Brooklyn to London.
Jessica says it took her at least a year and a half to write Carpool Confidential and says she did some of her research online - reading lots of mom bloggers who share their stories on a daily basis. Jessica says she checked out Dooce, Manic Mom and author Meg Cabot's blog plus dad blogs and hundreds of others. "I was transfixed by their stories," she says. "The fact that these people put out their personal stories for all the world to see."
For mom bloggers interested in becoming authors, Jessica says the work of a novelist takes discipline. "While it may feel indulgent, you need to carve out time to write every day," she advises. In fact, Jessica says that she's currently at work on three different ideas for books and is currently deciding which one she's going to write next.
As for what's on her own bookshelf, Jessica says some of her favorite authors include Nora Ephron, Ian McKwan, Meg Cabot, Nancy Mittford, Jilly Cooper, Nigel Slater, Marian Keyes and of course, Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones Diary." Now that she's living in London, Jessica is surrounded by some of the best chick-lit and mom lit writers in the world - something tells me Jessica needs to start a mom group with that illustrious bunch - just imagine the fun they'd have!