We are so thrilled to welcome back one of the original Debs, from the class of 2007, Anna David!
In addition to having the distinction of writing the FIRST DEBUTANTE BALL POST EVER, Anna David is the author of the novels Party Girl (HarperCollins, 2007) and Bought (HarperCollins, 2009), and the editor of the anthology Reality Matters (HarperCollins, 2010); her memoir, Falling for Me was released in October, 2011. She’s appeared on the Today Show, Hannity, Red Eye, Showbiz Tonight, and various other programs on Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, CTV, MTV News, VH1 and E, written for The New York Times, The L.A. Times, Playboy, and Details, among others, and is the Executive Editor of The Fix, a website dedicated to addiction and recovery.
About her latest book, she says: “Falling For Me details how I decided to try to break out of my unhappiness about being single by following everything Helen Gurley Brown recommended in 1962’s Sex and the Single Girl. I revamped everything in my life—from my clothing to my apartment to my cooking skills—but mostly I revamped me. And in the end I found that it wasn’t the lack of a man that was keeping me from being happy: it was me.”
Anna decided to return to her Debutante Ball roots by joining us in writing about this week’s topic: our friends and families reading our books.
Thank God For My Family’s Capacity for Denial
I’ve used my family of origin for material for as long as I can remember. I used to worry about this—mostly that I’d hurt their feelings. And I might have worried more, but the lucky fact of the matter is that they tend not to follow what I write. Once, long ago, this bothered me: I wailed about how other people cared so they should, too. Then I realized that it actually gave me a freedom that few writers have.
But books—well, there’s really no way for a family member to get around not having read one of your books. I worried again when my first novel was released—mostly because it was a “novel” only in that the character was named Amelia and not Anna and I had to create plot points in order to move the story along. But at the book party, I remember my mother laughing with a friend of mine over the mother character in the book. “She’s nothing like me!” Mom declared. “Thank God.” In my second novel, the mother character—and the mother-daughter relationship—was an even bigger focus. And again I heard from Mom that the mother character was nothing like her. With my third book, an anthology I edited about reality shows, Mom was off the hook.
And now there’s my fourth, a memoir. This time, there’s no pussy footing around the facts or getting away with speeches I’d planned the first two times around about how clearly no one understood the definition of “fiction.” And I lay it all out there this time—brutally. I talk about how my family used to laugh at me whenever I cried. I talk about the way my dad always whispered to me that I was more beautiful than my mom and that he loved me more than her—something I’ve confronted him about and gotten a wide range of reactions, from “You’re crazy” to “Okay, I did but why are you making such a big deal about it?” And look; I’m not so concerned about how my dad is going to feel about that: we don’t have much of a relationship. But I worry about my mom and if she’s going to be negatively impacted by my putting our family secrets out there. She didn’t ask to have a writer for a daughter. And she certainly didn’t ask for one who would write about the things I do.
You’d think I’d deal with this the same way I handled writing about my friends and other people in the book: by showing her the pages. I made sure everyone else I called out by name was comfortable with how they were being portrayed and actually insisted on changing the name of one friend even though she was fine with leaving it in because I was concerned that she would later regret the decision. But instead of doing any of that with my mom—the one person I arguably care the most about, as well as the one most likely to be bothered—I’ve just given vague warnings, offering up enigmatic declarations now and then that “I really go there” in the book.
It usually takes a while for anyone in my family to mention that they’ve read one of my books so the dreaded conversation hasn’t actually taken place yet. Until that happens, I’m just going to pretend it’s not a problem. Turns out, I guess, that my parents aren’t the only ones in the family who are good at denial.
Thanks Anna! It’s been so great having you back with us!
Deb Anna’s all over the web! Learn more about her and her books by following the links below…