“A beguiling and beautifully written tale of first love and heartbreak.”
– Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Debut author Elizabeth LaBan just so happens to be a close friend of bestselling author Jennifer Weiner, who served as a mentor while she was writing the book. Today, LaBan stops by the NOOK Blog to recount how valuable Weiner’s friendship has been—both personally and professionally.
I’m working on my first novel. I get a call from my agent saying there is interest, but the suggestion is to make a change to one of the big scenes. The first thing I do is call Jen. It’s snowing hard. She’s leaving soon to drive north through the storm to see her mom. But sure, she has an hour or so. We meet at a café, eat pancakes and bacon, and she listens while I talk through the scene, guiding me to the perfect idea.
Jen has been beyond supportive of my writing since it became clear that I was serious. But really, our writing talk is just one part of our friendship. The truth is, Jen and I have been friends since before there were kids or published books in either of our personal worlds. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I was just pregnant with my now-teenage daughter the first night Jen joined us for a review meal on Rittenhouse Square. My husband, who is the restaurant critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, worked with Jen at the newspaper. I was completely intimidated – she was a hip, witty columnist at a big city paper and I was a staff reporter at a small daily in Delaware County. I expected to feel defensive, and I was ready to not like her. We’d get through the night and that would be that.
Right away she made jokes about how the hostess mispronounced her name, and it took her only a few minutes to guess I was pregnant. It might have been my subtle gagging when the garlicky appetizer arrived, but I was impressed! I liked her immediately. Shortly after, we started to have lunch together – just the two of us. My husband was a little jealous; after all, she had been his friend first. But he got over it. It was at one of those lunches that she told me she was writing a novel. A novel! And she was going to call it Good In Bed. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could write a novel. They seemed so long! I told her about how in college I majored in writing, but I chose poetry because I wasn’t a very good typist. She loved that. And she told me about a scene she was writing in which the pregnant Cannie eats a whole jar of mango chutney. Little did I know then that it would be the first of a hundred times we shared details about our books, her literary world centered on grown-up relationships and issues, mine now delving into the universe of prep schools and teens. But even so, we often acknowledge that our storytelling methods and readers are probably not that different, in the same way that we both devour books for adults and young adults.
I’m so glad we became friends before I had any concrete aspirations to write a book. On the other hand, maybe Jen would have avoided me if she knew how much I was going to ask of her as the years unfolded. When I tell her that, she just laughs and brushes it off. But I can’t help think of all she’s given me – endless willingness to read what I’m writing and offer her amazing ideas, then now, with The Tragedy Paper, saying yes to every opportunity to help me. The truth is, I know she does it for me because our friendship is about so much more than that. It’s about seeing each other’s kids when they were days’ old and watching them grow up, it’s about sneaking off to great lunches, sharing holidays together, and wonderful summer days in Cape Cod.
Still, I want to make sure I’m giving her as much as she’s giving me. I find myself constantly asking her – do you need anything? Is there anything I can do for you? And the answer is usually no, she pretty much always has things covered. But I know I am giving her the one thing that is impossible to come by these days, a friend who knew and appreciated her before Good In Bed and the nine books that followed made her an international celebrity. That counts for a lot – and for her, I think, it is more than enough.
Tell me: Which famous author would you love to be friends with?
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