Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry are the authors of the hysterical The Woman Who Is Always Tan And Has a Flat Stomach: And Other Annoying People, and they agreed to do an email interview, following up our review. Readers will also want to check out this video of the authors. PS – Today’s your last day to leave a comment and try to win a copy of the book!
- This book is so unique, what prompted you to write it?
Along with everyone else we know, we got sick and tired of those obnoxious holiday letters from those perfect people (The Couple Who Write The Holiday Letter Telling You How Their Little Timmy Just Discovered An Alternative to Fossil Fuels) and several years ago, Lisa sent out her response letter (see the same chapter). People were forced to read about her mundane life about deciding whether or not to buy mint-flavored floss, or how she figured out how many frequent flier miles she had and came to the conclusion she had enough for a coupon for a free drink (provided she paid full coach fare). The revenge was sweet. Realizing how enjoyable it was to send out inane letters at Christmas, the next year Lisa sent out “Why Polygamy Should Be Embraced During the Christmas Holidays” (see the chapter on The Woman Who Has Her Christmas Cards, Shopping and Decorating Done Before Thanksgiving). Lots of people including Lauren kept telling Lisa she should write a book, and Lisa said that would take too much energy, so she asked Lauren to help her, and although she didn’t want to expend much too energy either, she agreed.
- I know you self-published the book at first – what led you down that road? And what brought you to Grand Central Publishing?
At first we were really just doing the whole thing for fun. Someone suggested we attend the Colorado Independent Publishers Association, and before long, we had a self-published book, and to our surprise, had even won a couple of awards. Then a fabulous, dashing literary agent saw our book on Amazon, ordered it, watched his wife laugh over the book until she was sick, and then contacted us. Together we shopped around for the best possible editor and best possible publishing company for our book, and found Emily Griffin, who has been just wonderful, with Grand Central Publishing. We couldn’t be happier with how it worked out.
- You take real insecurities and the quirks of real people and exaggerate them a bit, okay a lot. How did you decide how far to take it? Did you need to scrap some potential chapters for crossing the line into ridicule?
We personally thought that perhaps the conversation between Jesus and his wife might be somewhat tasteless, but no one with any decorum (namely our editor) had any qualms about it. And to be frank, we don’t worry our pretty little head much with any of it. Although one aspect was important to us, in that we didn’t want to write a book with much profanity, and that our kids could pick up and read without us having to leap from the sofa and cover their eyes (because if the truth was told, we’d rather not have to get up off the sofa unless absolutely necessary).
- In the acknowledgments you thank your perfect friends, how have they reacted to the book?
Our friends brag about being the perfect people in the book, such as Lisa’s friend who is the perfect birthday mom or another friend who is the perfect scrapbooking mom. They tell everyone they are in the book.
- Did you end up caricaturing many of your own quirks?
Sadly, the book is tragically autobiographical. Lauren actually had her bumper fall off at the car wash, and her thigh high stocking fall down during a social event. Lisa tried the spray-on tan which didn’t even bring her skin tones up to the level of a cadaver.
- In addition to laughing, I felt validated by your book – I’m an imperfect parent and that’s OK, there are others out there like me! Is there a theme to the responses to “The Woman Who is Always Tan”?
Our motto is: Never be overly competent at anything. The reason is that then you get stuck having to bring the homemade treats that everyone loves to the classroom parties which seem to be held every other day. There is a theme from readers as far as the husband chapters are concerned, in that everyone seems to be married to the husband who has a cold but believes it’s malaria.
- I noticed that the chapters only mentioned the names of Lauren’s husband and child. What was the thinking behind that choice?
We used Lauren’s first name and Lisa’s last name, and a fictional name for our child. Since we are both Jackie Kennedy fans, we named our daughter after Caroline.
- Has writing this book changed your outlook on other parents? Has it changed how other parents react to you?
Nothing has really changed. Imperfect parents flock to us with stories of making fun of perfect parents, and perfect parents flock to us giving us ideas about how a new chapter can be written about them. They all seem satisfied with who they are, and we love that!
(We, of course, more identify closely with the imperfect parents. We saw a bumper sticker the other day that we believe sums up parenting: “Raising Children is Like Being Pecked to Death by Ducks.” The truth had been finally spoken).
Thank you, Lisa and Lauren, for such a great interview and book!