Thursday, May 17, 2012
We may not be getting a goodie bag from Jennifer Gilbert, but we are giving away her book!
**Giveaway is now closed**
Life is not an event that can be planned.
As the owner of Save the Date, it's Jennifer Gilbert's job to help others celebrate life's special occasions by planning, designing and executing parties and weddings. But it hasn't been until recently that she has opened up about the one event in her life she never planned for - a random, violent attack that took place when she was 22 years old.
In her memoir, "I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag," Jennifer chronicles the twists and turns she experienced along the road to recovery, and how event planning not only brought her professional success, but also taught her how to embrace life and led her to true happiness.
Thanks to Engelman & Co, TWO lucky US readers have a chance to win "I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag."
You can visit Jennifer at her website and on Facebook and Twitter. Also, BookPerk has a contest for a lucky US resident to win a Skype consultation with her. (Ends May 24th.)
Which authors do you most admire?
After writing my own book, I admire every single author EVER. It was the hardest work I have ever done!! But I love anything by Jane Austen, my original chicklit writer. I also admire and read Jennifer Weiner, and Candace Bushnell for the lighter fare novels as well as Isabel Gillies, Dani Shapiro and Gretchen Rubin for their voices and true stories.
What do you think the key is to a successful chicklit novel? Lots of sexiness? A studly hero? Plenty of angst?
I think it’s a true voice of the woman. If she or her character is authentic about whatever she writes about, sex or men or anxiety, then it will resonate with female readers. Hopefully it’s a bit meatier, or sexier than it would be in a more general genre.
What was the most challenging part about writing a book?
Writing a book takes time, a lot of time. For me, it was a full 2-year process. As the owner and CEO of Save the Date® (an event planning company,) a wife and a mother to 3 small children, I had to be very focused, and carve out time to write. I locked myself away for at least 4 hours at a time for 2 days a week, then sessions over the weekend to be disciplined and just focus. But, the biggest challenge for me was editing out my own life. When it’s a novel or a movie I’m very brutal about unnecessary parts that don’t add anything. I think most movies should be 20 minutes shorter in general. But for me to pick parts of my own life that are more or less interesting or more or less crucial for to my story was very difficult. I had thousands of really funny stories and anecdotes, but they didn’t make sense for this book. Luckily, I had a great editor.
Favorite springtime food
I love asparagus and it always reminds me of spring, also watermelon and cherries. I associate with clean, healthy foods (getting ready for that bathing suit!) with springtime.
If you could take us on a tour of your town, where would we go first?
I live in TriBeCa, NYC and I have affectionately called it Triburbia for years because it feels like a town within a City. TriBeCa is famous for its cobblestone streets, art galleries and loft type spaces. We have the best restaurants, Nobu, Bouley, Tribeca Grill, so it’s a foodies delight. As I have kids, my daughter is 7 and my twin boys 4, I’d start at the place where we spend a lot of our time,. The beautifully landscaped Pier Parks, which outline the west side of TriBeCa directly on the Hudson River. As you run, walk or bike on the large waterfront promenade you see people kayaking, playing beach volleyball and soccer in front of you, and set behind you is the heart of TriBeCa, and all its funkiness.
How would you define Chick Lit?
Chick Lit is relatable books written by women for women. This genre speaks directly to women, not that men can’t or don’t relate, but I think it lets women have their voice and own their power.
What inspired you to write your memoir?
I started writing my thoughts down years ago when one of my son's Alopecia had progressed and I was feeling angry, vulnerable and out of control. The last time I felt like this was 20 years prior when my own attack happened. I started writing in my journal to sort out my feelings. From experience, I know people don’t know how to deal with someone else’s sorrow and they tend to ‘at least’ it away. Once I started writing, remembering and understanding what my lessons had been and how my life had been built on those years of heart ache and overcoming them, I thought O.K., I’m ready to share now, in fact, I have to share what I have learned, in the hope it inspires others to share their feelings and help others.
What is it about your memoir you feel resonates most with readers regardless of where in the world they live?
Everybody has their own story, the one we carry around, repeating it to ourselves until sometimes, it can define us. Whether its illness, divorce, losing a loved one, unemployment, or just feeling unworthy in our own bodies, we all have one. My book is about letting go of my story. I decided to stop carrying it around and blaming it for getting in the way of my own life. While we can’t choose what happens to us in life, we can control who we want to be after it happens.
I think it’s real, and honest and relatable. I believe it’s inspirational. Of course I hope it’s also highly entertaining, as I am an event planner with some wonky stories about my event planning career, but it’s the right combination of funny and thoughtful. Sometimes the light and the dark can go together in a book, and I think this strikes the right balance. It’s a fast paced, easy read with something in it for everyone. It’s part “novel-esque”, part event planning tips, and a lot of heart-bearing truthful life lessons.
If "I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag" were to be made into a movie, what actress would you want to see play you, and why?
My story starts when I’m 22, goes backward and forwards till 43, so an actress that has a lot of range and ‘gets’ my experience. I love Natalie Portman as an actor; she has a huge range, so maybe? Rachel Mc Adams? I feel the same way about her. Or it could be an actress my age going backwards, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon…there are so many…may it be my biggest problem and my choice! HA!
May is International Chick Lit month, what do you think it is about Chick Lit that draws so many readers to the genre?
This genre awakens something in me - a hidden dream or desire, or they relate to a part of my life. These books make me feel understood and heard. Who doesn’t like the comeback kid story, or the ultimate story of renewal and overcoming adversity, the plain girl that gets the gorgeous man, the shy woman getting her fantasy job? At the end of the day, we all just want love. I think it’s the one human condition we cannot live without. Money, family, power…they are ways of getting love and validation. These books are relatable and validating.
Special thanks to Jennifer for her thoughtful and interesting answers and to Engelman & Co for facilitating the interview and sharing Jennifer's book with our readers.
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US only. Giveaway ends May 22nd at midnight EST.