Ask the Author: Laura Jamison
What would you like readers to know about you?
I like readers to know that I’ve written the book that I’d like to read myself and there’s a good chance they will relate to something in the story, particularly if they are a mom.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Five college friends have arrived at forty in very different circumstances, but with at least one thing in common: they are among the more privileged in society. Elizabeth and Sara are lawyers, Martha is a doctor, Carmen is a wealthy and well-educated homemaker, and Heather, the most successful, is a famous tech executive―and after more than two decades of friendship, they know one another better than anyone.
Then Heather writes a women’s advice book detailing the key life “mistakes” of her four friends―opting out, ramping off, giving half effort, and forgetting your fertility―that becomes wildly popular, and Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, and Carmen all feel the sting of Heather’s cruel words. Despite their status, these women face everyday obstacles, including work problems, parenting challenges, secondary infertility, racism, sexism, financial stress, and marital woes―and as they weather their fortieth year, each one can’t help but wonder if their life might have been different if they had followed Heather’s advice.
But as these friends are continually reminded, life is complex, messy, disappointing, and joyful, often all at once―and no one can plan her way out of that reality. In the end, all five women must embrace the idea that their lives are shaped not just by their choices but also by how they handle the obstacles life inevitably throws at us all.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I’ve been lucky to practice law both in a large national firm and at two publicly traded companies while raising my four children. No two days are the same and I have had the good fortune to work alongside a number of talented people including my most important partner, my husband, Nate (feeding twins at midnight and three a.m. so I can sleep–he’s got that handled).
And yet. Life had more in store for me because in the summer of 2016, at the ripe old age of 41, I began work on my first novel. I hadn’t written a word of fiction since middle school (at least not that I can remember). I was visiting my parents when the idea for the book came to me. I read a news item that Ivanka was writing a book about how women could architect their lives to be successful. Here we go again, I thought. Another book geared toward telling women, not institutions or society, to change themselves (and from an author who I doubted had a perspective that would be relevant to most moms). Exhausting and irritating. But Ivanka, after all, is a person who is trying to be helpful, in her way. What if she was your friend, even your best friend? And so the idea for All the Right Mistakes was born.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I actually really liked writing the Heather character. Without giving away too much, she’s the voice in my own head saying “you should have planned better” or “you should have been smarter.” I think we all struggle with this criticism of ourselves.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Too many to name. I hope more women tell their stories. Remember Jo in Little Women? We need a thousand of her.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
My parents gave me great advice. Whenever I wanted to try to do something hard or that was a stretch they would say “why not you?” So, to those who would like to write a book, I say, “Yes! Why not you?”