I'm thrilled to be talking to Jeanne McCulloch today. Jeanne is a former managing editor of The Paris Review and a senior editor of Tin House. She was the founding editorial director of Tin House Books and is the cofounder of Todos Santos Writers Workshop. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, O Magazine, Allure, The Northwestern Review, and other publications. I'm talking to her today about her amazing memoir called All Happy Families, which everybody should read. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. I'm thrilled to welcome her today.
Jeanne McCulloch: Yes, very good.
Zibby: I'm so excited to be doing the podcast with you today. Thanks for coming. For readers who have not read All Happy Families yet, can you tell them what the book is about?
Jeanne: The memoir begins in 1983. It’s an August weekend near the tip of Long Island in East Hampton, New York. It is the weekend of my wedding. What very quickly readers will note, because it’s in about the third page, is that simultaneous to the wedding preparations taking place, my father has just had a stroke. He is lying in South Hampton hospital on life support. Essentially, what you have is two families that are coming together for one event, a wedding, that being my family and the groom’s family. It very quickly is turning into a completely different event.
My mother was convinced the wedding should go forward. I think she was tired of my father derailing things. I should say he had a stroke that was caused by abrupt alcohol withdrawal after being a lifetime alcoholic. She had told him he had to sober up for the wedding if he wanted to be there. She said, “We’re going to go ahead with this.” It opens on a weekend that had sat in my mind for decades, literally. I hadn’t known exactly how to tackle it in terms of a memoir. It took me a long time, needless to say, to do that. It then progresses. It goes into that weekend, but not only that weekend, also the repercussions from that weekend in both families. That's the course of the book, basically.
Zibby: You do such a great job of really painting the backdrop of the story. The Hamptons and your home there by the sea, that was another character in the book almost. I'm going to quote. You wrote, “The gardener Vincent in yellow protective earmuffs and a fishing cap drove his seated mower in even rows up and down the sloping lawn as he did every morning of the summer, this day steering around the large, white party tent erected earlier in the week for the reception.” I felt like that sentence was so perfect. You can just see it. You can see the lawn. You can see the house. You put the reader right there.
Why did you decide to write this story? Why now?
Jeanne: I have a two-part answer to that.
Zibby: I’ll take both.
Jeanne: [laughs] On the technical level, I had written an essay. I'd been commissioned to write an essay for an anthology called Money Changes Everything that came out about ten years ago. The editor, Elissa Schappell, who had commissioned it had seen my house in East Hampton, my family’s house. She had been a colleague of mine at The Paris Review and then later at Tin House, the literary magazine we both went on to. She had seen the house. The whole staff from The Paris Review had stayed at my house one weekend when we'd been celebrating the fortieth anniversary of The Paris Review. She knew that this house existed. She knew that my mother had given this house a name. She was fascinated by the notion that people actually lived in houses that had been given names. Even then, the house became a character in not only our imagination but in other people's imagination because it had a name.
I wrote the essay. It was the hardest essay that I've ever tried to write. It took a long time, the reason being she wanted me to write about what it was like to grow up in that world, which was a esoteric world. It was a slice of life that not everybody sees. Yet at the same time, it was for an anthology about money. I was trying to figure out how to write about having grown up in a big house by the sea where despite the outer appearance of beauty and glamour that one might put on the house by seeing it, very real things were happening inside. Quite a few of them were not exactly happy. I wrote the piece. It was in the anthology.
An editor read it and offered me a book contract to expand it. I did what I had always told my own writers -- because I've been an editor most of my life -- never to do which is to accept a book contract when you have no idea what the book is actually going to be about. I merrily said, “Yes. Sure. No problem.” I sort of could see it, but then when I actually sat down with the essay, I thought to myself, “I said everything I want to say on this topic and I feel comfortable saying on this topic in five thousand words. There is no way I'm going to expand it.” I dithered about that for a long time. During the time I was dithering I was changing jobs. I had children to raise. The editor who had assigned the book had left and gone to another house. A lot happened such that the heat was off in a way. Finally, it was no longer off. My editor had landed at HarperCollins. The book was back on. That also had the advantage that I had taken a long time to really figure out how I wanted to write.
I would say it started with an image. It started with the image of me up in my mother’s bathroom on the wedding weekend. I'm in my wedding dress. I'm looking in the mirror. I'm brushing my hair. Outside the window I can hear people being seating in the garden below. The string quartet is playing. I can hear distantly the waves on the shore. Suddenly I hear in my mother’s bedroom her dialing her little princess phone. I hear the click, click, click. I thought, “Who could she be calling at this moment?” I'm about to go walk down the aisle with my half-brother because my father was in the hospital. I heard her at that very moment say into the phone -- it was clear she was calling the hospital at this point -- she said, “Put me on with the doctor that's going to be on call tonight.” She got on the phone and she said, “If anything happens to my husband tonight, do not call this house. We’re having a party.”
I never got over that, as one can imagine. The next thing I heard was my half-brother knocking on the door saying, “It’s time.” He was there to take me down to get married. That had haunted me. I thought, “Let's go from there.” Let's just write that scene and see where it leads. I picked a twenty-year arch to write about. I very much wanted it to begin and end in the same location with a twenty-year span in the middle. It begins with my mother walking into the water to have her morning swim the morning of the wedding. It ends twenty years later with me in front of the house at the exact same place seeing the house for the last time. We had sold it. It was under demolition. It had only been demolished from the inside at that point. There was still shards of glass in the windows.
That’s the final scene of the book is me seeing it for the last time. It ends with the sun setting. It had begun with the sun having just come up. As the sun is setting at the end of the book, it is reflecting in the last shards of glass that are in the window. It’s reflecting red. I end with an image that had been an image I had my whole childhood, which is every time at that time of day the sun set on the windows and the windows turned this beautiful burnish rose color. I would imagine that every room of our house was filled to the brim with roses. I was able to begin the book with the image of me that had haunted me in my wedding dress. I ended with an image that had also stayed with me my whole life and is still with me, which is of the house filled to the brim with roses, which I felt was such a metaphor for family life. In that way, the book really did allow the house to become a character.
In any of our houses, so much family life takes place over long periods of time. Everybody has their own memories. Everybody has their own images that they take with them. Therefore when the house is gone, it’s not as if a chapter closes, really. It’s as if everybody just takes those memories in their own heads. This was an opportunity to write down some of mine. One of the added, lovely benefits of having published this book is that people that read it who did know me then -- I just gave a reading out at Book Hampton in East Hampton. A lot of the hometown crowd were there that I hadn’t seen in years. Everybody comes forward with their own memories. They’ll say, “Oh, yes. I remember your mother with the cigarettes. I remember the little cigarette lighters. I remember that ceramic cabbage where we hid the pot on the coffee table, and she never knew it was right there in front of her face,” that kind of thing.
Zibby: That's beautiful. By the way, listening to you talk, you should be a storyteller. I'm going to hire you to read my kids bedtime stories. I just want to listen to you talk all day.
First of all, when you just said how you started the book with your mother going for her morning swim, when I first opened it, I thought for sure it was going to circle back and something terrible was going to happen on the swim, just so you know. Instead, there's that element of, “What's going to happen on her swim? What's coming next?” You're immediately uneasy. You probably did that on purpose.
Jeanne: I did and I didn’t. It’s interesting that you cite that. I teach a workshop down in Todos Santos in the winter. We have a faculty reading every session. I read the very beginning of the book. They were sort of my dry run. I read them little passages every year. I read just the beginning, the first three pages. Afterwards, a lot of people came up to me and said, “So does your mother commit suicide?”
Zibby: That's sort of what I was thinking.
Jeanne: So I thought the next page I'm going to say, “Later that afternoon she pinned the family veil on my head,” so it’s very clear in the first chapter that in fact, no, that's not what she was doing. She was taking her morning swim. In so doing and then adding that last bit about “she put the veil on my head,” it also meant that I was going to encapsulate in the first chapter the fact that she called the hospital and said that. That was a lengthy discussion I had with my editor a few times. She said, “Do you really want to divulge that that early on?” I said yes. I tried not to. I tried to put it at the end of the first section, which is where chronologically it doubles back to. I actually felt like it needed to be right there because otherwise people are going to be distracted by what you just mentioned.
Zibby: It obviously worked really well. Good call on that one. I really loved in the book how you talked about wealth. I know you said it came from an anthology about money. I feel like a lot of writers or books, it’s not ever addressed straight out the way you did. You told it in such a way you didn't even have to say it, like the Social Register books lining the bookshelves and all this stuff. You used to lie about your address, which is literally across the street from where we are right now.
You used to say that, “Inherited wealth could be a birthright, a genetic twist of fate as random as say red hair or a disposition to drink was a notion I distrusted. How much was real and how much was illusion and how might the perception of money make any one person different from anyone else? These were the questions I pondered uneasily as a child as I lied about my address.” Then you say, “So money, what of it? A long, grey, shingled house by the sea, a bonfire lighting up the night sky on summer evenings, a softly lit tent where guests danced in late summer. Does the postcard beauty of these scenes suggest the beautiful times were more beautiful for my family than for others, or terrible times more terrible? Our lives might have looked pretty because the backdrop looked pretty. Certainly, it might be less inspiring of empathy than our cynicism. It might be all those things. That's fair to assume. But like alcoholism, despair is an equal opportunity condition, and the daily human struggle to escape its grip knows no boundaries of wealth or class. Early on I understood that a mansion by the sea can just as easily be a jail cell as a dreamscape.”
That's so compelling. That's amazing. It’s such an amazing description of growing up that way. There's this whole feeling of are you too lucky to be sad? Are you too lucky to be depressed? Are you too lucky to have strife?
Can you talk about the juxtaposition of wealth and sadness and the added, not burden, but the added expectation that wealth means you can't be sad?
Jeanne: Trying to get that right was the struggle that I had in the original essay, which of course was about money. My whole thesis in that essay was bad stuff still happens. In that passage that you just read -- thank you. I loved listening to you. I would like you to be the reader instead of me. One of my earlies memories was that our neighbor swam out to sea and was trying to kill himself because his beautiful checking account and his beautiful wife and his beautiful house did not make up for the despair that he felt inside. Early on, that's how I recognized that a big house by the sea can just as easily be a jail cell as a dreamscape.
That is a tricky notion to sell to people for obvious reasons. Even though my own children -- I’ll use them as an example -- they did not grow up in that house by sea, but they have early memories of that house by the sea. Of course, they were little. It was idyllic to them. Whenever they talk about it, still, they have trouble. They look at that and they say, “What a great place to be a kid. What a great place to have parties when you were a teenager,” and yet they know the story. They know that backdrop. Even in my own children’s mind there's a failure to compute there. I get that. Particularly that passage I struggled with in the book because I knew that it would be all too easy for somebody to read my book -- not read very deeply in it, just to read it -- and in the back of their mind they're thinking, “Poor little rich girl. Cry me a river.”
When we write memoirs, we are given our stage set. This was my stage set. This was my life. This was the story I wanted to tell. That's already given. Then I put the players on the stage as they were. I put the situation on the stage as it was. I let it play out. If we take away that backdrop, if you imagine it as a stage set and we put in a different one necessarily, but the lines are the same and the situation is the same -- maybe we’ll take out the gardener, but you know what I'm saying -- it’s a story of a very human family event. It could be anywhere. It’s distracting sometimes to have the stage set that I had. That is where that comes in, that kind of tension. Also, what I felt is my responsibility as a writer was to really tell the story and get past the stage set even though one has to acknowledge its presence and that cynicism might be a place that people would go before they would get to empathy.
Zibby: I get it. I wrote this short essay on Easter, which I don't even really celebrate. My in-laws were here. The kids were dying the eggs. It’s one of those really hard days. I was crying in the bathroom. I was like, “But this bathroom is so pretty.” I wrote this essay, “Too Lucky to Cry on Easter.” How can I cry? I have these beautiful kids and this nice life. I wrote it and I got such great responses from so many people. On the outside, we don't have to fight for food, but that doesn't mean there aren’t issues going on.
Jeanne: Very profound issues can take place no matter where you are. That's true. That's very true.
Zibby: Allow me to shift away from this now. Your father’s alcoholism played a big role in the story. You talked about his bad days and the remorse he would feel, the Budweisers he had for breakfast, and how it impacted you. You said, “Even as an adult, the child of an alcoholic forgets how to speak, or more accurately loses the belief that their words have any power to make a difference or to matter. It was part of the strategy of retreat that we learned early in childhood to master.”
Can you tell me a little more about how it shaped you growing up with your dad’s alcoholism or when you even realized your dad was an alcoholic or different than anybody else's dad?
Jeanne: This actually does go directly back to last thing that we were talking about. I feel as though one of the things that people see as a benefit of wealth -- this would be my father who inherited money -- is that you can choose the life that you want. You don't have to go do a job that you might not like. In his case, too much free time was not a blessing. Too much free time can be greatly overvalued. There were many reasons for his alcoholism. I do believe the fact that he had a lot of time on his hands and yet he was this intellectual genius -- he spoke fourteen languages. He was fascinated by language, the different verb forms. He had little index cards with verb declensions piled up by his feet as he was studying a new language every year. Also, he was in our living room in his PJs in the middle of the morning with verb declensions by his feet and a can of Budweiser on his breakfast tray. What is wrong with that picture?
It takes a child a while to figure out that is not normal. You can figure out very easily that everyone else’s parents are going off to work and yours are not. How that translates into the fact that his life had taken on a force of its own in the grip of an addiction, it takes a lot longer. I remember anxiety as a child about birthday parties. Would he show up and embarrass us? We adored our father, but it was as if there were two fathers. There was the lovely, funny, charming one. Then there was one that was a bumbling oaf. That person sometimes showed up at birthday parties and scared children and upset parents. There were stories that I would hear from other kids in my class about him at parents’ meetings. There was one famous where I guess he spoke up very eloquently in the middle of a parents’ meeting about the way he disapproved of the way that French was being taught at our school. Then when he went to sit down, he fell off his chair. Right there were the two parts of my father. I heard that from a kid at school the next day. The parent had obviously been talking about it. The kid had heard it.
You are very aware of it. You're very aware of it and yet you have no idea what to do about it. You retreat into the background. In my case, I think now -- I could never have articulated this then -- but I think the combination of the family disfunction that comes with not knowing at any given point which parent is going to be there and social protocol -- I grew up in an environment where children were to be seen and not heard, not completely, but in a certain way. The decorum was there. The combination of those two things made a child retreat into the background. You lose your voice because nobody's asking your opinion. Nobody's going to hear it anyway if there's a distraction of somebody who's in the grip of alcohol. When I looked back at this story, all I could think to myself -- and my husband from that time, now my ex-husband, every time I had seen him over thirty years, he also said, “Why didn't we stop this wedding? How did we let it go forward?”
Took me a long time to realize that was all a part of losing my voice at that time. I literally did not feel that I could say “Stop.” I don't want to blame that on my father, but I do think that the adult child of an alcoholic struggles with things that were imprinted from an early age in terms of discrediting yourself, sorting by other, never sorting by self. The other is so theatrical. If you add to that, social protocol, that's another big theatric that's going on. My mother’s mantra, “We will get through this with grace and style if it kills us,” that's what she would literally say, “If it kills us, the grace and style comes first.” That's the priority. I had those things in juxtaposition to just growing up.
Ironically, becoming a writer, becoming an editor, as an editor it’s easy to coax stories out of other people. It’s not always easy, but that's your job. It becomes a privilege to do so. One can relax into that job more easily if one is used to being in the background and watching other people's lives unfold before them without having a voice. I don't want to speak for all editors in the world. For me at least, it was a natural progression to then go and help other people tell their stories -- and loved doing that, I still love doing that -- rather than write my own. Took me a long time to hear my own voice, to let myself hear my own voice.
Zibby: Your mother, not just with the protocol, but you illustrated her personality so well in so many ways. I could identify different things about different people I know in the way you talked about your mom. I loved your scene with the “automatic Pat,” how someone had called her Pat and not by her last name. She freaked out about that. She used these foreign accents too. She seemed to be a force to reckon with as well, especially when she wouldn’t give you one of the dresses when you were up in the attic at the end of the book. I don't want to give anything away. I don't think it’s giving anything away. You wanted a dress and she was like, “No, no. I'm going to keep it.” You're like, “Mom, you're never going to wear this dress.”
Was it the combination probably? Do you feel like you've worked on your relationship with your mom in addition to your dad? You think it was the combination? Now, I'm being your family psychologist here. I'm sorry to be so personal. I should talk more about the book.
Jeanne: No, I'm delighted. I'm delighted to have you guide this that way. With my mother, one of the most important ingredients for me in what I needed in writing this book -- I understood her a lot more when I became a mother myself. With both my children, my son and my daughter, but particularly my daughter as she started to get older, I started to think about ways in which mothers always want to protect children and do the right thing, but of course we’re all fallible. We’re people too. In order for me to really understand my mother and in a way let her off the hook, even though she's no longer walking amongst us on the planet, I had to see it through her eyes in the closest experience I had which was being a mom myself and knowing ways in which I was fallible. We’re all trying our best. In that way, I understood her motivations were all, for the most part, coming from a place of doing what we all do as mothers. We’re lionesses if we feel our cubs are in trouble or if we need to guide them in one way or another. That's where we get fierce. She became fierce.
She was also a very imperious person, although she had deep insecurity within her that came from her childhood. Her inner child was not a happy person. Her inner child felt abandoned. I can draw a direct line from that to the scene you're citing where she wouldn't let me have that dress. Her inner child deep inside her -- I don't want to sound like Psych101 here -- but that inner child was saying, “Mine. You can't have it. It’s mine,” even though she was in her seventies when we had that conversation. She literally was never going to wear a beautiful, silk dress again. Didn't matter. It was hers. She wanted it. That kind of thing took me a long time to be at peace with.
There was a side of her that was a lot of fun, particularly as we got to be teenagers. She was a lot of fun. My friends all adored spending time with her. We would all sit around and gossip and smoke cigarettes with my mother and drink diet soda and do all these things that people weren’t doing at home with my mother. There’s always those parents that everyone else says, “Your mother’s so cool,” and you'll say, “Ha, ha, ha. She's not your mother.” There was that too. She was such a larger than life character. The writing about her on one level was very easy and another level was very hard. I did want to get all those very different aspects of her on the page to the extent that I could.
Zibby: Your memory about her -- the scenes were so crystal clear. Did you keep a journal? Do you just have an amazing memory?
Jeanne: Some of the book, I did actually write down a lot of it at the time, particularly the second section which we haven't spoken about, which takes place up in Maine. It’s my husband’s family, my in-laws. It’s all about a Christmas week up there. That, I had all written down at the time. I did feel I like I was watching theater in a way. I think it has that quality in the book too. It was like a scene was unfolding. I was watching it. Then my mother would call in. It was be very immediate. There would be this disembodied voice calling from the Upper East Side of Manhattan going, “What are they doing now? You should be home for Christmas. You shouldn't be up there with them.” I did write all that down.
In terms of my mother, so much of it was so imprinted in me and in my friends. They’ll say now, “Oh, my god. The fact that she called everybody ‘dearie,’ you have it all in there.” Friends will say, “I was one of the ones that made the mistake of calling her Pat. I got in trouble,” that kind of thing. That did happen. In terms of process of writing a memoir, I do think there's an element of having a literary séance in your head sometimes. Towards the end of the book, there was something missing. It had to do with my mother. I couldn't get it yet. What was hard about her character is because she was so imperious and because she was so bossy, it’s very easy to make her one dimensional. I knew she was not one dimensional.
There were two things I actually added towards the end of the writing process. Both of them come out in the third section of the book. One of them was I was straining to hear something that she said. I knew there was something she said in that attic scene, which is also the scene you cited with the dress, that changed the coloration of the wedding weekend for me and allowed me to let her off the hook. I was walking my dogs one day in Brooklyn where I live. I suddenly heard her say in my head, I remembered the voice saying, “I wish I could've been a better mother to you the weekend of the wedding, but I was numb.” Now, it’s not like I hear voices. I don't want to sound that way about it. When you're deeply involved with a character that you're writing about, sometimes something like that will make itself known to you if you've been with the material long enough. I tied my dogs up and took out a receipt that I had in my pocketbook and wrote down that line. That was it. That was one.
The other one, which I know you've mentioned to me in our lovely emails back and forth, at the end of that attic scene, we go downstairs. We’re looking out the window. It has cleared from being a gloomy, rainy day. She said, “You see? I told you you should trust your mother. I told you it was going to be a perfectly glorious day.” I repeat that line at the very end of the book. At the same time, she grabbed my hand and she squeezed it four times, which was an old childhood game of ours. Four times was, “Do you love me?” The squeeze back was three, “Yes, I do.” Then she would squeeze two times, “How much?” Then I would crush her hand. Then I would do four times and she’d do three, then two, then one. That was another thing I remembered very late in the process. Again, there's certain things you remember right away. There's certain things that you have written down. Yet there are also these things that you have to be very, very patient and they will come.
Zibby: The other trick of memory, when I read that in your book, I had forgotten. I used to do that with my mom all the time. I don't think I ever would've remembered that. It brought tears to my eyes. You remembered it, so I remembered it. It’s this whole circle.
Jeanne: Now, you're bringing tears to my eyes. I'm so thrilled that it could've triggered that for you.
Zibby: It’s true. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to go call my mom. I probably should've.
What does the rest of your family think about you divulging all this information about your family? You thanked them. In the acknowledgments you said, “It’s never easy to have a writer in the clan. I get that. We each have our own version of events. Thank you for giving me this space and the respect to tell mine.” How did everybody in your family respond to this? Just wondering.
Jeanne: I haven't actually talked to absolutely everybody in my family. I was keenly aware of my two sisters, my full sisters not my half siblings, because they really were the ones who shared our mother, obviously. It’s not my half sibling’s mother. It’s our mother. They're the two that had grown up with my father. Our half siblings saw my father on occasions and lived with us for the month of August every year, but that was not the same thing as growing up with our father as an alcoholic. I was mostly concerned about my two sisters. I was concerned about everybody, but particularly those two. When I finally sat down to write the book and realized I was going to write about this particular weekend, I said to both of them separately when I happened to see them, “Look, I'm writing about this. We all have our own versions of the story our father died. I would like to tell it from the perspective of the bride that weekend. That's my story.” I sent them both a manuscript.
I sent them both a manuscript, and my first husband Dean the manuscript, before I sent it to my editor or my agent. It really mattered to me that they be okay with it. With both of them, one of them wanted me to -- she said, “I don't ever use that expression. I'd really like you to change it.” I was like, “Okay. That's fine. That’s what I remember, but you know better than I.” The other one, her complaint was so esoteric and so much my father’s daughter in terms of language. I had changed the last name of one character from Mahoney to Montgomery. She said, “You cannot change an Irish name to a Scottish name.” I said, “Is that really your only compliant? I'm not going to stop the presses for that.” That was the one thing she thought I'd gotten wrong.
Dean, my ex-husband, I did talk to him at great length because I very much wrote about his family. I have not seen those people, most of them, for a very long time, as in thirty years long time. I finally decided that I was going to change the name of the family, the last name and all of their first names. He said, “Okay. If you're going to do that, can I stay Dean?” I said, “Yes, you can stay Dean.” In the thanks I give him at the beginning of the acknowledgments, I use his initials because I know that whether he cares about it hugely or not, his family might, that I not use their proper last name. There are different ways in which ones tries to be respectful. I haven't heard from everyone in my family. There might be people that are unhappy with things. I hope if that’s the case that they’ll know that I'm very approachable and I can talk about these things. They may choose not to. I don't know.
I've been on both sides of this. As someone who's been in the literary world for as long as I have been, I have been a loosely based character in other people's work and in one case, not loosely based at all. There are different ways in which I think about that. What I finally at the end of the day can say in general way is as long as something isn't written for a malicious reason, if it’s really written in name of art and creating a real story, then I can go with that. I can live with that. If it is malicious, that's something else again. There was one case in my life where somebody wrote something because basically they wanted me to know something, but they didn't want to tell me. That, I don't admire.
Zibby: No, that's not good.
Jeanne: In that way, one has to respectful, and yet one has to tell their story. I feel as an editor, I talk to a lot of my writers and other writers, friends who are writers, about this over many, many years. What is your strategy? How do you approach family in these matters? It obviously isn't always lovely to have a writer in the family at all. I got different answers. The one thing that seemed to be the general truth in all of that and the take-home for me was you cannot let that stop you from telling your story. Whatever footwork you have to do to go to various people and talk to them about it, if you're going to tell your story, you're going to tell your story. That was the way I proceeded. I knew it was not going to be easy.
It’s also not easy when things are being reviewed because you obviously can't control the media and the press. You and I just spoke about one treatment in the New York Post I was very unhappy with because I thought this is disrespectful to my family. It’s not really the subtlety with which I hope I have come to the material, but it was the New York Post. That kind of thing you can't control. You can do damage control and call up the people that might see it. That's what you do. That's part of the job. That's part of the privilege of having your work published, even though a privilege can sometimes, as we know, go both ways.
Zibby: Are you going to write another book?
Jeanne: Yes. I'm already working on one idea that I have.
Zibby: Can you give any more than that? Not really? Not yet?
Jeanne: Not yet, really. It is, again, memoir material.
Jeanne: Right now, I'm worrying on the level of what we've been discussing in terms of privacy and whatnot. I'm thinking a lot about that. I don't want to break the anonymity of some of the people that are involved. I am just beginning in my mind to construct the story. We’ll have to see where it goes. I'm looking forward to it.
Zibby: Me too now.
Jeanne: I'm so glad. I'm delighted.
Zibby: Thank you. Thanks for letting me pry into your inner details of your family life and for the wonderful book.
Jeanne: My pleasure. Thank you. You're a gift as a reader. You really, really are. You bring so much. You get so much of the nuance. Thank you. It’s been a privilege to have you read my book.
Zibby: That's so sweet. Thank you.