Friday, October 11, 2013

Q&A with author Jill Smokler

Jill Smokler's popular website, Scary Mommy, calls itself "a parenting community for imperfect parents." She is the author of Motherhood Comes Naturally (and other vicious lies) and Confessions of a Scary Mommy. She lives in Baltimore.

Q: How did you first come up with the "Scary Mommy" concept?

A: Scary Mommy began innocently as a mommy blog -- a modern-day baby book -- for me to keep track of my days with the kids and share little stories and pictures with friends and family. During the time I was thinking of starting a blog, my son had taken to calling everything "scary," thanks to some Disney movie that haunted him. The moment he called me Scary Mommy, I knew I had a blog name, registered the domain and the rest is history.

Q: In your new book, Motherhood Comes Naturally (and other vicious lies), you write, "Scary Mommy has always been about lifting the veil on motherhood and helping women find comfort--and humor--in other mothers' experiences." How important do you think it is for mothers to find that common experience, and do you think fathers could benefit from reading your books too?

A: I think it is hugely important for women to realize that they aren't the only mother who has lost her temper with a whiney toddler or hid in the bathroom for a five minute break from the children who are driving her crazy. Fathers need to find those common experiences as well - the hardships of being a parent aren't always openly discussed, and we all need that comfort of knowing we aren't alone. Of course, fathers can also benefit from the book by getting a glimpse into the sometimes-secret life of women. Understanding, in whatever form the book facilities, is always a good thing. 

Q: What has the response been to Motherhood Comes Naturally? 

A: The response to the second book has been great on a review level, but tough in terms of sales. Unlike the first book, (due to an issue with my publisher and unfortunate timing,) Motherhood Comes Naturally (and other vicious lies) wasn't available in stores. Needless to say, that has a rather large impact on book sales and it's been a tough battle getting it into hands. It's definitely a labor of love, and it's all been very... lesson filled!! 

Q: For people who are interested in posting an article or essay on your Scary Mommy site, how do they do so?

A: I regularly feature guest contributors on my site, and have a tough time keeping up with the demand! At the moment, I'm looking for recipes for my food section and travel contributions for the travel guide. I can always be reached at

Q: Your books are really funny--is it hard sometimes to keep your sense of humor when you're having an especially annoying day?

A: Of course! But the blog and the book also help me maintain a sense of humor about things I might not otherwise find all that funny. If I didn't have a platform to share, say the time my four-year-old decorated his two-year-old brother's face in a red Sharpie, it would have been nothing but frustrating. Having an audience who laughs along with me is hugely helpful in seeing the humor in the mundane, or even disastrous. 

Q: Are your kids (ages 9, 7, and 5) curious about all your Scary Mommy projects?

A: My daughter, the oldest, has become very interested in all things Scary Mommy over the last year or so. Most of her friends' parents have the book and it's become contraband among the curious third-grade crowd. I'm always fully conscious that the kids will one day read my words, but at the young ages they are, I do my best to shield them from the site and books. I think my deep love for them is apparent in everything I do, but I'm writing for people who appreciate sarcasm and brutal honesty, which young kids can't possibly comprehend. But I hope, one day, they turn to the books when they are parents themselves. Little would make me happier.

Q: Are you working on another book?

A: Not at the moment. Right now, I'm not sure what else I have to say -- I hear the teen years are quite interesting, though, and they're right around the corner. So, we'll see.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. This Q&A was conducted in conjunction with The Lessans Family Annual Book Festival at The JCC of Greater Washington, and is an updated version of an interview originally posted on March 21. Jill Smokler will be speaking at the book festival on Thursday, November 14 at 6:30pm.

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