Lauren: The story picks up when Georgie’s baby, Pip, is four months old. Her life has completely changed, she’s exhausted, she has no idea what she’s doing. Her whole life, she’s been so adamant that she didn’t want children – and now that she has one, she feels completely out of her depth. She sees all these other new mums around her who seem to know which products to buy and which parenting method to use and how they’ll get their kids to sleep through the night. Georgie doesn’t know any of that and so she’s FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.
Summer: When you set out to write She’s Having Her Baby, did you always know that there would be a sequel?
Lauren: No! The day of my book launch, my beautiful publisher, Jeanne Ryckmans, rang me and asked if I wanted to write a sequel. Without thinking, I said yes… and then spent the next year trying to figure out what I would write about.
Summer: Are there any characters you unexpectedly felt drawn to and wanted to continue with?
Lauren: I knew I wanted to explore what Nina’s life looked like now – her path has changed almost completely at the end of the first book, and so I wanted to look at how that would change her as a person. I feel such deep affection for Nina – perhaps more so than I do for Georgie! (ssh! Don’t tell Georgie!) – that I wanted to do her story justice.
Summer: I know we need to avoid spoilers, but did you feel pressured to resolve things between Georgie and Nina?
Lauren: Yes, definitely. I always think of She’s Having Her Baby as a platonic romantic comedy, with Georgie and Nina at the centre. The heart of the story will always be about their friendship. In many ways, their friendship is like a relationship: they’re completely aware of each others’ flaws, they’re sometimes brutally honest with each other, but there’s a deep, deep love and respect for each other there, too.
Summer: We briefly talked about this on our panel in Sydney, but why do you think so many people say they don’t like Georgie? (I personally loved her!)
Lauren: Mmm! I struggle with this, too. Most of the feedback I’ve received about Georgie is that she’s relatable and funny. But there was some feedback that she wasn’t very likable. And in some ways, I understand that. She’s not very self-aware when it comes to her job, for instance, and she lies to Jase about being pregnant. I think the “unlikable” comments stem from the idea that She’s Having Her Baby is often referred to as a “chick lit” novel, and readers often expect chick lit characters to be extremely relatable and likable. But (sadly) I am not Maeve Binchy or Marian Keyes, and my characters will always be flawed!
Summer: I found the characters in She’s Having Her Baby to be extremely relatable. In Crazy Busy Guilty, will we the same strong women archetypes?
Lauren: First: thank you. Second: I hope so! In Crazy Busy Guilty, Georgie has an antagonist at work, but there is method to her madness. There’s more to her than meets the eye. That’s all I can say!
Summer: Did you always have the ending in mind for your books or did it come together when you were writing?
Lauren: In a word: no! I wish I was a “plotter” but I’m totally a “pantser.” I’m writing a book at the moment and though I’ve tried desperately to stick to a plot, I find myself detouring from it roughly every 10 seconds.
Summer: Have you always been interested in writing about pregnancy and motherhood or did the desire come after becoming a mum yourself?
Lauren: I became interested in writing about pregnancy and motherhood after I had a baby myself. I found it so fascinating how rapidly your life changes, and how different your priorities become. Sometimes this means that friendships fall away or become strained, or even that family relationships take on new meanings. Like Georgie, I felt utterly unprepared for motherhood. Other mums would talk about things like “the football hold” or “Sophie the Giraffe” and I’d be blinking at them, trying to figure out what they were talking about. It was a different language. I wanted to write about the seismic shift that is parenthood, but I wanted to show the ridiculousness and humour of it, as well as the emotion and drama.
Summer: How soon after you finished your first book did you start writing Crazy Busy Guilty?
Lauren: It took me a long time to feel ready to write again. 2015 was kind of a crazy year for me – I had this job that I hated, my husband was in a bad motorcycle accident… it was all a bit much! So I wrote in fits and starts, never quite getting a rhythm going. I got the deal in February 2015, and honestly, I only really started writing in November. Nobody tell my publisher! Once I got started in the November, though, I was off, and the whole thing was done by February the next year. I don’t like to sit on projects too long – I could never be that author working on a book for ten years! Ten months is too long!
Summer: As a fellow mum/ author, I really struggle with time management because kids (moods, health, schedules) can be so unpredictable. Any tips!?
Lauren: Argh, #thestruggleisreal. One of the hardest things about being a new parent is having your time ripped away from you constantly. I certainly struggled with this. My advice is:
- JFDI, or “just fucking do it.” Take any moment you have. Anything. I write while my daughter naps in the car (she’s almost 4 now, this is the only time she really naps anymore, when we’re driving). As soon as I notice she’s asleep, I pull out my laptop or notebook, and get started. I write during her martial arts lessons, too! It’s a whole hour – so luxurious!
- Wake up early. This is tough but it works. When I’m working on a book deadline, I wake up at5am and try to get 2 hours of writing in before the rest of the house wakes up. Obviously, you need coffee to do this.
- Ask for help. I am so lucky to have an amazing mum, mother-in-law and father-in-law who are willing and able to help out. When I need it, I ask them. And then I pay them back with baked goods.
- Make yourself accountable. Tell people that you’re writing a novel, so that they keep asking you about it. Eventually it’ll really bug you that you haven’t started yet and you’ll be like, “Fuck it, I’m starting tonight!”
Summer: Do you have a favourite reader’s shelfie?
Lauren: This is my favourite She’s Having Her Baby picture on Instagram, because it was sent to me by a reader who was struggling with infertility. She wrote to me later about how true-to-life the book felt, and how much she related to Nina. That meant so much to me.
Summer: What are you currently reading?
Lauren: I’ve got a few books on the boil right now. I’m reading Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, which I’m enjoying… though not as much as I thought I would. I’m also reading Diane von Furstenberg’s memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, and a biography of Helen Gurley Brown called Enter Helen. I worked at Cosmopolitan and am quite fascinated by HGB – her impact on magazines cannot be overstated! And I can’t wait to read Jennifer Weiner’s book of essays, Hungry Heart, and Maria Semple’s new book Today Will be Different. Her books have a really cinematic feel – probably because she wrote for TV for so long – and I just adore her characters. And obviously, I cannot wait to read the second Summer Land book!
Lauren also writes a must-read weekly letter.