THE LITTLE CITY FIVE: Jessica Knoll (Luckiest Girl Alive)

Jessica Knoll, author of Luckiest Girl Alive, will be in conversation with Emma Donoghue, author ROOM and new novel THE WONDER, at DeBaun Performing Arts Center on September 22nd at 7 pm. TICKETS 

She answered a few questions for us:

1. Do you miss the magazine world? 

Yes! I miss getting dressed up in my finest and walking into a glossy building every day, having a work wife to get lunch with, and the nauseating pressure of pitch meetings and the elation when you come up with an idea the boss loves. But when I started writing Luckiest Girl Alive, it became impossible to approach my office life with the same kind of passion and energy that I had before. I wrote in the mornings for a few hours before going into the office, and by the time I got there I was already creatively spent. I miss it, but I can't do the magazine thing and write novels and scripts at the same time, and I would miss novels and scripts more. 

2. Did working in women's magazines help you write the book — and to know your audience?

Absolutely. Beyond just being in the habit of writing and coming up with ideas daily, many of the editors I worked with at Cosmo had published novels, and they encouraged me in my ambition of doing the same. It helps to be around people who have succeeded in doing something you want to do. The goal becomes less lofty, more attainable. 

I wrote Luckiest Girl Alive when I was twenty-eight years old, and so I made Ani twenty-eight years old too, going through many of the same growing pains I was going through at the time. I assumed the book would land with twenty-somethings, but if anything, I hear more from women with teenage and twenty-something daughters, who discovered the book first and then passed it along to their daughters. This was a refrain I heard so often on my book tour that I wrote an essay about it. 

3. Have promotional events changed since speaking about your experiences that led to the story?

They've become harder and easier for me. On the one hand, they're easier because I can speak openly and candidly in a way I didn't feel comfortable doing previously. But it can be hard to discuss something so painful on a loop. Still, I am proud of my essay in Lenny and the impact readers tell me it has had on them. 

4. Name three favorite books: one from early childhood, one from teenage years, and one from adulthood.

Childhood: ANY of the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. We are all in agreement that Pamela grew up to be Samantha Jones and Elizabeth to be Charlotte York, right? 

Teenage years: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I read this at my lifeguarding job. It's a wonder no one drowned. 

Adulthood: Impossible to pick just one: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

5. What comes to mind when you hear the word Hoboken?

 Frank Sinatra!