Laurie joins me on the podcast for a great chat here!
I have a special place in my heart for Laurie Gelman, author of the hilarious new novel Class Mom. When I had just launched This Mom Loves and was trying to establish my Momterview feature, Canadian-born Laurie was kind enough to oblige (at that time, she had just finished hosting The Mom Show). I didn’t even have Facebook yet, and contacted her through a friend’s account…and she still was willing to help me out! Not only did we have a great chat, one of my first-ever Momterviews, she also kindly educated me about voice recorders (since I was furiously typing everything she said to me) and inspired my husband and me to visit New York City that summer. Though we didn’t see Laurie, she had a hand in making our trip very special.
That said, I was so excited to talk with Laurie again, this time about her debut novel, Class Mom, based in part on her own experiences. (Related – a quote from our 2010 interview: “I got to be the class mom this year, and I could write a book about that!”)
Laurie and husband Michael Gelman (Executive Producer of Live! With Kelly and Ryan) have two daughters, Jamie (16) and Misha (13).
From the publisher:
Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom―or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max―this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the “wisest” candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.
From recording parents’ response times to her emails about helping in the classroom, to requesting contributions of “special” brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen’s methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen’s past, a hyper-sensitive “allergy mom,” a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.
Relatable, irreverent, and hilarious in the spirit of Maria Semple, Class Mom is a fresh, welcome voice in fiction―the kind of novel that real moms clamor for, and a vicarious thrill-read for all mothers, who will be laughing as they are liberated by Gelman’s acerbic truths.
Why did you choose Kansas City for the setting? (I would have expected you to go with NYC.)
While I was researching the book I learned that being a class mom is a universal pain in the neck. People from all over can relate to the trials and tribulations. So I chose a city in the geographic center of the United States so that everyone could relate.
I heard that Kelly Ripa warned you not to take on the class mom role, and also that you got fired from your position! Are both true, and if so, how did you get fired?
She did indeed. I wish I had listened to her! I got fired for writing snarky emails – many of which I used in the book.
What’s another tidbit in Class Mom that was actually from your own experience?
The out of office reply. It was always the first to respond.
You shared with The Globe and Mail that you wrote a children’s book that was turned down by 37 publishers. I think that’s so important for other writers to hear. How did you handle that rejection?
Not well at first. I was pretty bruised from such a resounding rejection of my work. But I was put on the Class Mom path very soon afterwards and it soon became obvious that it was a better fit for me.
My lovely daughters are 11 and nine, and I’m constantly warned to brace myself for the teen years. Any words of wisdom?
Try to listen without judgement. If they think they are going to get a lecture when they tell you something they did, they won’t share anything.
What is the best thing and the worst thing about being married to someone who works in the entertainment world?
The best thing is getting to go to a lot of fun events. I don’t think there is a worst thing.
Do you think we will see you back on-screen again, or will another book be next?
I can’t imagine anyone hiring a 53-year-old woman to do anything on TV so I think I’ll stick to writing. Class Mom 2 anyone??
In your expert opinion, should I, as a teacher, try to reinstate the tradition of class moms at my school?
Oooh, tough one. I’m going to say yes and then pray for the poor soul who takes the job.
Class Mom by Laurie Gelman is available now, so go grab a copy!