Author Jennifer Byrne Gets Real about her book

Fake It: More Than 100 Shortcuts Every Woman Needs to Know

~~~ by Sarah Lolley~~~

Fake It FINAL.inddThere comes a time in everyone’s life when they catch their biggest blunder and their intelligence flashes before their eyes. Jennifer Byrne was mine.

When researching the author for this interview I found that the illustrious Jennifer Byrne was an Australian Journalist with her own television show that featured best-selling authors. The Australian Jennifer Byrne is related to British royalty and married to a network executive. I spent a whole night watching her shows and sculpting a very serious interview – and wondering why someone so accomplished would write a section on how to fake “Having Met a Celebrity to Be Relevant in a Conversation”. Luckily I was ahead of myself, because the next day while wondering why she was working with a Connecticut-based PR firm, PCc, and a Massachusetts-based publishing house, Adams Media, I discovered that there were two Jennifer Byrnes. One is the definition of a lady and the other, well, she “fakes it”.

Thankfully, my Jennifer Byrne has a sense of humor and even wondered if the Royal Jennifer Bryne knew that she was on the map. We agreed it would be a fun interview.jennifer-byrne-1879ea4691a12a69

AM: Where did your sense of humor come from?

JB: I think that maybe my sense of humor arouse out of the absurdity of my growing up, just a very loud Italian American family.  I was a little bit of a quiet nerd, but I was always observing things. A lot of my sense of humor arises out of observing bizarre situations and things like that.

AM: I read that the idea for the book came from your publisher. What was your first reaction to the idea?

JB: I did immediately recognize the potential of that being misconstrued of being a bedroom scenario. I thought that was kind of funny. When I first thought about it, I thought are we teaching women to be disingenuous and present a phony front. Then I thought about that expectation that is in place for women to be that woman that can be it all, balance home, work life, and take care of kids. I realized there was something honest about admitting that we are all just barely getting by and its okay to take shortcuts. It’s okay to throw something together and try to present it together as polished. There was a deeper honesty to coming out and saying ‘none of us are perfect and its okay’.

AM: What do you think is the worst advice in the book?

JB: The one about pretending it’s your birthday to get a birthday cake at a restaurant. First of all, it’s ridiculous and I would never do it. I don’t even know if it would work.

The fake idea, that’s kind of ridiculous. As you can tell some of the advice is just nonsense. It was just meant for entertainment value. I tried to put at least one nugget of real advice in each one. I would try that one about the birthday cake at your own peril. I would not expect too many people to go out and do that.

AM: You have also written the Intrepid Guide to Parenting. It’s an outdoorsy themed book about taming a “wild beast”, but you don’t have any children. I assume you were inspired by your sister’s child?

JB: That’s a fair assumption. After my sister’s first child, she has two, I spent a lot of time with her. But the first little baby I spent so much time with him. I definitely observed him through all his different stages and I would definitely have to say that had a lot to do with that book.

AM: What do you think is the toughest part of becoming a parent and will you become one?

JB: I think the toughest part based on my observation is being able to balance that with having a sense of yourself as an autonomous person with your own interest and hobbies, your own sense of identity, not losing that with kids. It seems that is a risk that especially women run into that they just lose themselves in motherhood. I think it’s hard. You have to make extra effort to take time for yourself and continue to pursue what you care about. I think that losing sleep is another really bad challenging part.

To be honest with you, I am really disorganized. I have got to tell you the truth, I am not great and running a household even without kids. I give that a lot of thought whether I would be able to hold it together. So I don’t know and I am running out of time. My husband and I have talked about adopting, possibly, that’s something that interests me. I am saying the answer is probably going to be no, but I haven’t closed the door on it.

AM: I asked because so much of your book is about parenting… People, like me, who become a mom and start a blog experience the same stuff. There are a lot of mommy bloggers out there blogging because we are trying to maintain our identity.

JB: There are definite rewards from having kids. I love being around my niece and nephew, they are my therapy. They make me happy. Sometimes I think my sister has to derive a certain daily dose of happiness just from them being there. I think that there are pluses to both. I think kids do help your sanity. If you are some like, I am easily scattered, I really think I have ADD, I am very disorganized, very scattered. My husband is slightly better than me. I think that we really both where we come to this point where we think, “Can we handle it?” Maybe we are too cautious because my sister says “You gotta just jump in and take a leap of faith.” I guess we just always stopped short of that. I don’t know if that means we are too cautious and we are making the right choice, ya know?

I am being very open with you.

AM: There was some good advice in the chapters “Slipping on the Power Suit” and “Pulling a Betty Crocker”?

JB: I like the idea of being lighthearted about it and trying to assure women that’s it’s okay. Women talk to each other about a lot of things, but I think there is still that curtain where women don’t let each other know ‘I am not perfect. I am still barely making it with this stuff.’ I wanted to break down that illusion that there are really superwomen, people are really going around living these perfect lives, having these powerful careers and going home and making a flawless dinner.

There was a blog post, forget which one it was, got to heart of it. It was about Women on Facebook, it went pretty viral. You see women posting things that make their daily life look so perfect. They say things like ‘We got up and had a wonderful breakfast and sun was streaming through the window and then we went and played and then I did this..’ I think there is a culture of envy where women still try to put it out there – that I did this and I got this done and this done and then we had a beautiful family picnic. I just think that I wanted to break that down as much as I could to offer tips for just scrambling by.

AM: In youth culture revolves around being “real”, rebelling against not being told the truth by your parents maybe, then you become parents and you have to “fake it”?!

JB: You really do. Nothing exemplifies that more than the whole thing about the Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. That is like built right into the job, you have to tell them all these lies. That is just the tip of the iceberg. When the family dog dies you can’t tell your kids – I don’t know what happens after Fido died – you have to say something comforting, you have to provide something.

AM: I have been accused of not being able to ‘fake it’ with my kids?

JB: I have no problem with your reasoning to tell your kids the truth.

I think it’s better to lift that veil of perception. I think it’s ridiculous. It’s great that women have fought for equality, but it’s more than equality, we are expected to do traditional female things and go out and have these awesome careers too. It’s too much for anyone person to do.

Kids are smart they probably want to know. You are asking me to do this but I want to know what’s it to me instead of some following the blind authority thing.

AM: Anything you want to say about the book that people will take away?

JB: I like to think that it confuses the whole expectation of being perfect. If it makes women feels a just little bit better and less alone in that whole pursuit, then I feel like I did my job. And if it makes people laugh then I would feel good about that too. It is sort of a wink at the whole thing, no bodies really this perfect women. At least that’s what I think, that’s what I am going to tell myself.

Buy the Book for Your Best Friend on Amazon



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