One might assume that since she’s written several bestsellers (memoirs Such a Pretty Fat, Pretty in Plaid, My Fair Lazy, and her first novel, If You Were Here) and sold over a million books, Lancaster has been to BEA before. Yet this is her first time here: until now, her annual tour schedule (she writes one book per year!) always conflicted with BEA’s dates.
How is it that a woman so young has written not one but six memoirs? “I think I write them because my publisher keeps asking me!” Lancaster quips. “I believe that I have such a vanilla life. But maybe I come with a different perspective. I’m always trying to improve myself.” In each memoir, she says, she focuses on a life situation to work on: Bitter Is the New Black—“having everything, losing everything when I got laid off, then becoming a writer”; Bright Lights, Big Ass—“written at the height of the Sex and the City craze, it’s my antiversion”; Such a Pretty Fat—“trying to lose weight and learning that my problems didn’t come from my weight, they came from me acting childish”; Pretty in Plaid—“fans wanted to know about my youth, so I hinged it on my fashion memories”; My Fair Lazy—“about my search for culture. Opera, theater, cooking, dining—I was culturing up.” In Jeneration X, Lancaster explores “being a Gen X-er who finally decides to grow up—sort of.”
Lancaster’s first book, Bitter Is the New Black, was born from a blog she started in 2002 “because I was out of work and I was bored, and my friends were tired of my e-mails. The more I did it, the more I felt like it was what I should be doing. Blogging was a new medium, and I got an awful lot of attention that I probably would not get now.” Lancaster admits that at the time, because she didn’t know how to write a query letter, she “decided to have literary agents query me. I posted it on the Rants and Raves section of Craigslist.” Clever plan: she landed an agent with whom she had a long and successful relationship.
Still, Lancaster spends lots of time promoting other authors’ books—which is the real reason she’s thrilled to be at BEA. “Honestly, I think I’ll have more fun at BEA as a book lover than as an author—meeting all these authors that I love and discovering new voices. I’m such a fangirl when it comes to other writers. I read 250 books a year, and I’m always talking up books by other authors. I’m bringing a couple of extra suitcases to fill with books.”
What’s next? “I’m working on memoir number seven, which will be called the Tao of Martha—I’ll be spending a year trying to live by Martha Stewart’s dictates!”