Jenna McCarthy has been writing for magazines for 17 years, as a freelancer and as a staff member at publications including Seventeen, Mademoiselle, and Shape. "I’ve written for nearly 50 magazines, plus dozens of web sites and several anthologies. I also spent two years co-hosting the top radio show in Santa Barbara," she says. "Oh yeah, and I recently made two people, right in my body, practically from scratch. No wonder I’m exhausted half the time."
McCarthy lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband, Joe Coito, and their daughters Sophie ("5 going on 25; nickname: Hollywood," McCarthy quips) and Sasha, 3 1/2 ("And you'd better believe that half is key!") Her first book, The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties, was published this month. Part memoir, part guidebook for new moms, her book is a hilarious look at the darker side of pregnancy and parenthood -- you know, the part the "experts" never seem to talk about.
The Parent Trip is more than your average "I just had a baby, now what!?!" guide for new moms. Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your book.
The first time I was expecting, I bought every book I could find on pregnancy. I learned a lot by reading them. (The placenta is edible! There’s even a name for the practice: placentophagia. This is good information to have!) But with all due respect to the authors of these very helpful and essential works, I wanted more. I knew that I might develop morning sickness (which now I know is a big, fat misnomer, by the way, because this particular breed of illness definitely does not wear a watch), but no one told me that I might take sudden and violent offense to the aroma of my couch while I was pregnant, or that I would hate my husband on a regular basis for no obvious reason. I had questions but no answers: Would sex ever be the same (assuming I could muster some enthusiasm for it in the first place)? Why are mothers so damned competitive? And would someone please tell me what the hell a Velboa Snuzzler is? I figured I couldn’t be the only woman who was stupefied by the mysterious but clearly established rules of motherhood. So I learned as I went -- and then I wrote a book.
What is your favorite part of the book?
I love the section about horrible children’s stories in “Mommy’s Dead.” I am constantly amazed at how lame and inappropriate so many kids’ books are. I joke at the end of that section that I’m going to have to write my own children’s books -- but it turns out, I wasn’t really joking. (I didn’t know this at the time.) I’ve already written the first one and I think it’s really fun. It’s being illustrated right now. It’s called My Very Own Fairy and it has a little of the funky edge that I love in the occasionally well-written kids’ book. My illustrator is phenomenal -- I can’t wait to see it.