Author Interview: Laurie Gelman

Meet Laurie Gelman, a fellow Canadian (woo-hoo!), TV personality and writer of humorous (hilarious) women’s fiction. If you haven’t already discovered her books, she’s the author of Class Mom, You’ve Been Volunteered, Yoga Pant Nation (my favorite) and just recently released in August 2022, Smells Like Tween Spirit (Henry Holt & Co.).

Born and raised in the Great White North, Laurie spent twenty-five years as a broadcaster in both Canada and the United States before trying her hand at writing novels, and at the ripe old age of 52!

Laurie has appeared on Live with Kelly and RyanWatch What Happens Live, and The Talk, among others. She lives in New York City with her husband, Michael Gelman, and their two daughters.

From Amazon:

Smells Like Tween Spirit returns us to the relatable and wacky world of Jen Dixon and even with the cutthroat days of being Class Mom behind her, as a freshly minted mat mom of the Pioneer Middle School (PMS) wrestling team, Jen cannot catch a break.

“Readers will speed through this witty, pithy tale that brings back Jen’s lovable snark to delightful effect. This winning sequel lives up to its predecessors.”
Publishers Weekly

“Fans of the series will be thrilled to see more of Jen and the family, and newcomers will want to learn more about this quirky family…Gelman’s storytelling is fun and engaging, and she promises she’s only just getting started.”

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It’s a thrill to have you here Laurie and to get to know you behind the scenes of your Class Mom series!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your well-received, laugh out loud Class Mom book series.

After 25 years in broadcasting in Canada and the U.S, I took time off to raise my two daughters. It was during this time that I discovered the glitz and glamour of volunteering for your children’s school and becoming the Class Mom (kidding of course. It’s the worst job since food taster for Hitler). My creative juices were flowing so I channeled them into my first book, Class Mom.

What was the inspiration behind your latest book, Smells Like Tween Spirit? Do readers need to read your other books to follow this one?

Smells Like Tween Spirit is the fourth book in the Class Mom series. Her son Max is now in seventh grade and a wrestler. My kids were growing up so Jen Dixon’s kids had to as well. I think its nice to read the books in order, but it isn’t necessary. Each book stands on its own.

I love the often hilarious (and the snark) and relatable character, Jen Dixon. How true is she to your life?

Well, the snark is all mine, but Jen’s extraordinary life comes from my crazy crazy imagination, not anything that actually happened to me…except getting fired as Class Mom.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to become a novelist after spending time in your impressive broadcasting and hosting career?

When I turned fifty and my daughters didn’t seem to need me as much, I knew I needed a project. I dabbled in a few writing areas – blogs, magazine articles and even a children’s book. I hit paydirt with a novel about being a mother.

Fans of yours love your fun novels that focus on the trials and tribulations of momhood and all the messy stuff in between. Are/were any of your books based on family or friends?

The books are loosely based on my experiences volunteering as a class mom, but the supporting characters are completely made up. I couldn’t risk getting kicked out of school!

Which novel was the easiest to write? What about the most difficult? And why? 

Check out Laurie’s books here.

The first one, Class Mom, was the most difficult because I really didn’t know what I was doing. The third novel was the easiest because I wrote it during Covid. I had no distractions and nothing but time to write.

Do you feel commercial fiction authors are facing particular challenges these days whether it be tied to politics, world issues, technology, or the environment?

Well, it all begins with the story. If you have a good one, people will find you. But statistics show that less and less people are reading books – they just don’t have time – so the challenge is to pique their interest. I think audio books and e-books have made it easier for people to have the time to “read”. I happen to love listening to books in the car.

My favorite genre when it comes to TV, series, movies and books is ‘dramedy’.  Do you feel your writing fits in with this genre? Why or why not?

I think I would put my books in the humor category, but dramedy could work too. I try to make my readers laugh, even when something heavy is happening. It’s a thin line to walk because you don’t want to take away from the gravity of the moment

For our readers, What’s ‘Dramedy’ Anyway? Read about it here!

In your latest book, Smells Like Tween Spirit, who would you cast if it became a movie or series?

Honestly, no idea!!

What line or passage in your new book, Smells Like Tween Spirit stands out for you the most? Do you have any other passages in your books that really stand out for you?

There is a moment in SLTS where Jen is in the car with her father who has Alzheimer’s. She feels that she has all but lost him so she starts to cry, After a minute, he says “I’m still here Jennifer.” Something similar happened to me with my farther. It’s my favorite memory from his later life.

How long does it take you from idea to the time you finish your final edit on most of your books? Any secrets behind your process?

Times vary but from the time you submit your book til it’s on the shelf is about a year. That includes re-writes and printing.

Besides spending time with your family and getting lost in your writing (and all that comes with being in the celebrity world), what else do you love to do?

I’m a bit of an exercise junkie so I enjoy a spin class or Pilates or even a good walk with my dog. I also love going to the movies and listening to music. And believe it or not, I enjoy tidying up. Marie Condo has nothing on me.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

My favorite these days is Kristen Hannah. It started with The Nightingale and then I went back and read everything she has written. I also love a good Liane Moriarty book. (me too!)

Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers today given the tough competition out there?

Write for yourself, not for what you think people want. Also, sit your butt down and write the book. There are no shortcuts to typing The End.

For your loyal book fans, is there anything in the pipeline you can tell us about?

Right now I’m venturing outside the Class Mom series and writing a book about a latch-key kid growing up in the 1970’s in Wisconsin. It is not a humor book.

Thank you so much Laurie for being here with us! I’m looking forward to your next book. Love the premise already!

You can find Laurie here:

You Should Write a Book With Camille Pagán Even Better Co
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