When I was a little girl, I read Harriet the Spy and became obsessed with the bespeckled sleuth. I feasted on tomato sandwiches and carried a spiral notebook everywhere. I’d write about classmates, neighbors and even strangers who happened to be walking by. I learned at a young age that everyone has a story—most just don’t realize it.
When I graduated from college, my dad begged me to go to law school so I could join him at his Bronx-based practice. Instead, I grabbed a notebook and headed for The Reporter Dispatch, the local newspaper, where I covered crime and politics (as if there’s a difference).
One of the first lessons I learned at the newspaper was that local politics is boring. The second lesson was to befriend the town clerk who could tell you what happened should you dose off during a meeting. After falling asleep one too many times while council members argued interminably about stop sign placement and paint colors for municipal buildings, I quit and took a job as cruise editor for a travel magazine. Each month, I’d set sail to an exotic destination and write about the experience. I traveled throughout the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, Asia and South and Central America. Unfortunately, I was so good at my job, I was promoted to airline reporter. Writing about the major carriers from a desk wasn’t nearly as exciting as seeing the world through a porthole.
When I got married, I moved with my husband to Los Angeles, where I joined the staff of People magazine. I covered A-, B- and C-list celebrities, pop culture icons and normal people doing incredible things. When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I considered leaving the job to pursue book writing. That decision was cemented during my labor when a hilarious altercation between my husband and our OBGYN became the genesis for I’ll Never Have Sex with you Again: Tales from the Delivery Room, a book filled with funny birth stories from celebrities, nurses, doctors and parents. After that, I wrote novels as well as memoirs for famous people and everyday folks doing extraordinary things.
Nothing excites me more than helping a person find their voice and discover their story. It’s thrilling to watch someone as they realize they have something to say that matters. In some ways, I’m still that girl imitating Harriet the Spy, except now I add some tapenade to those tomato sandwiches.