The Denver Post
“All of my heroines save themselves”
By Mia Geiger
With four best-selling books, a hit movie based on one of her novels and Hollywood knocking at her door with more deals, you would think author Jennifer Weiner would be sitting home congratulating herself.
Maybe if she had a spare moment she would, but with movie premieres, a national book tour and a toddler daughter to take to music class, she can’t really spare the time.
On a recent Sunday afternoon she squeezed in an interview from the downtown Philadelphia rowhouse she shares with her lawyer-husband, Adam, and 2-year-old daughter, Lucy.
Weiner is best known as a “chick-lit” author, but she’ll be the first to tell you that she didn’t invent the genre. In fact, she has been a fan of women’s fiction for years, devouring books by Susan Issacs, Margaret Atwood, Sophie Kinsella, Candace Bushnell and Tama Janowitz, among others.
Perhaps it’s just the proliferation of female-centered books that has drawn attention to the genre, but the 35-year-old novelist doesn’t focus on being a chick-lit author as much as a writer who simply wants to tell stories that entertain and inspire. She has come a long way since reading “No, thank you” letters from 23 publishers before a savvy literary agent scooped her up.
Q: You have a new book (“Goodnight Nobody”) that is on the bestseller list; you also have a movie (“In Her Shoes”) that’s getting great reviews. Not bad.
A: It’s a little overwhelming. I never thought I would ever be on the red carpet or at movie premieres. It’s amazing.
Q: What has been the best part so far?
A: Having my grandmother with me on the red carpet. She was an extra in the movie. The hilarious part is one of the reporters was saying, “You must be very proud of Jenny.” She said, “While I think the books are just wonderful and the movie is terrific, what I think she should do is have another baby.” I said, “Did you have to tell that to ‘Access Hollywood?”‘
Q: It all sounds very exciting.
A: It is, but I never pinned my hopes on Hollywood. It would be wonderful if another book gets turned into a movie but the real satisfaction is that the stories get turned into books.
Q: Three of your earlier books were best sellers as well as your newest one. What’s your secret?
A: The books are funny, which helps, but they are also about women who feel very familiar to readers – the woman who isn’t quite thin enough, maybe not as attractive or feeling not as attractive as the other women in her circle, maybe she has the family that isn’t picture perfect, her love life isn’t what it should be. It’s the person who’s always trying for something better and sometimes falling short,
sometimes making it, but always trying.
Q: You certainly seem to have struck a chord with women.
A: I am my own first audience. I think about what do I want to read, what do I want to happen and if it’s a character I like, I want to leave her in a good place – the idea that she has been on a journey and she has learned something and she has prepared herself for something better.
Even though my books have components of romance, where Mr. Right is kind of waiting right around the corner, I don’t think I’ve written a book where a woman’s happiness rests in the hands of Prince Charming. All of my heroines save themselves and get to better places. That’s the happy ending and a message I feel good about.
Q: Your characters seem very real.
A: All of them are kind of versions of me a little – people who use humor to cope with things. No matter what they are going through at the time, people in my books can usually find something funny to say about it. As far as the plus-size thing, that’s important too, because there are so many women in the world who are bigger than a breadbox who never ever see themselves anywhere (in the media) except in a before-and-after photo.
You turn on the TV, and nobody is bigger than a size zero anymore. I like the idea that my women feel real, they are real in their bodies, their imperfections, what they are struggling with in terms of their families, in terms of mothering, in terms of careers.
Q: Your latest book is a mystery. Why a mystery?
A: I always want to push myself. I don’t want to tell the same story over and over again. I want to try different things and go different places.
Q: Do you have dreams of being the next John Grisham?
A: I don’t think John Grisham has anything to worry about.
Q: Do you have a motto you live by?
A: One is the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The other is the Abraham Lincoln quote, “You can’t please all the people all the time.”
Mia Geiger is a freelance writer in the Philadelphia area.