Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on writer and performer Jenny Allen! Jenny will be at our 65 James Street address with her humorous collection, Would Everybody Please Stop? on Saturday, September 30, from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Jenny Allen’s humor pieces have appeared in the New Yorker, MORE magazine, and several anthologies. She’s written for LIFE, Esquire, the New York Times, New York magazine, and others. Her solo show, “I Got Sick Then I Got Better”, directed by the great James Lapine, got a rave review from Ben Brantley in the Times when debuted as New York Theatre Workshop, and has since been performed at theaters and cancer groups around the country. She’s been told stories and hosted for the MOTH, and acted in productions in New York, including “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” by Nora and Delia Ephron, and appear in Brooke and Lynne Adams’ Webseries, All Downhill from Here.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Would Everybody Please Stop?
My book is a collection of humor pieces and short personal essays. The essays deal with the potholes of life, from the perspective of someone in mid-life who’s trying to hold things together after cancer, divorce, and life’s various losses and indignities. The humor pieces are sillier, and are a way for me to write about things that annoy or bewilder me—words and phrases that drive me crazy, like “meme” and “It is what it is”; people who borrow things and never return them; Fashion Week; fat-free half and half; ponytails on older men; the sudden ubiquitousness of Craisins; the popularity of Hota Kotb and Kathy Griffin; the horrible road signage in New Jersey.
What was the inspiration for Would Everybody Please Stop? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
I started writing humor pieces after thirty years of writing “straight” feature pieces. It took me that long to screw up my courage to do it. Getting sick with cancer (now, mercifully, in remission) gave me a kind of permission—I had nothing to lose by trying.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
Life is so hard! It’s difficult, humiliating, confusing, often sad, even tragic, and generally problematic. I think people are eager to laugh, to see the humor in things. It helps hugely in maintaining some perspective. Without humor, we’re sunk.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Try to write every day, even if it’s just a sentence.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m working on a short comic novel.
What are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I like to bake—cakes and cobblers, mostly—and find that baking is an excellent way to procrastinate.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Silence. I can’t listen to music or the news on the radio—I have a hard enough time concentrating in silence.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
I love having a fresh cup of coffee nearby.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
In terms of humor writing, don’t reign yourself in or edit yourself while you’re writing. That’s for rewriting. Don’t fear sounding eccentric or loopy—people will like that most about your writing.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
I hope the book is in other bookstores! It’s meant to be!
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
I have a website, jennyallenwrites.com, and I’m on Facebook. The MOTH Website has videos of my stories.
Thank you for the great interview, Jenny! We’re looking forward to having you at the store on Saturday, September 30, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM for an Afternoon of Humor!