My Love Affair With Chick Lit
by Brenda Janowitz
It all started with Marian Keyes.
On the heels of a horrible break-up (is there any other kind?!) I found myself with a lot more free time on the weekends. It was spring in New York City, so I grabbed a book to read in the park – I’d recently bought a copy of Watermelon by Marian Keyes.
The day flew by. I sat on my blanket, reading the whole day, utterly enthralled by the world Marian Keyes had created. It felt like she was reading my mind; it felt like she was speaking directly to me. How did she know exactly what I was feeling? The book made me laugh, the book made me cry, the book made me realize that I wasn’t alone. I finished it in a matter of hours.
I was in love with chick lit. Only I didn’t know it. I rushed to my local bookstore, eager to find more books like the one I’d just read. But I didn’t know how to describe it. I didn’t know what to call it. I didn’t know there was a new genre of books called chick lit, a new type of book written especially for me. I read more books by Marian Keyes, and then discovered other amazing authors – Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, Helen Fielding.
I would read on my way to and from my job as an attorney in Manhattan, remembering the time when I, too, had wanted to be a writer. These books inspired me; it didn’t take long for me to start carrying a pad with me wherever I went, jotting down story ideas and various turns of phrases.
Then, for my 30th birthday, my best friend Shawn coordinated a group gift – she had all of our friends chip in to send me to a writing class. And everything changed. I began taking my writing more seriously. I began making time for it.
Then, in 2006, I sold my first novel. It was published by Red Dress Ink in 2007 (RIP, Red Dress Ink, oh, how we miss you!), with a sequel following closely on its heels in 2008. It took a while for me to finish my third novel – marriage and babies slowing me down – but Recipe For a Happy Life came out last summer.
Now, I’m trying my hand at New Adult, the younger sister of chick lit. Funny, sassy and smart, and with a younger protagonist, I’ve loved tapping into this part of myself. The longing you felt when you were in your 20s. That feeling of ache, of wanting something, wanting anything, but needing to grow up a bit before you could get any of it.
It’s exciting doing something new. But I’ll never forget my first love. The thing that made me want to write. The books that made me feel understood, happy, sad, and a little less lonely.
Brenda is the author of RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, JACK WITH A TWIST and SCOT ON THE ROCKS. Her fourth novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, was published by Polis Books on May 6th.