Author Highlights 'Bitchiness' in Wellesley
A Dover author set her suburban novel in the affluent and sometimes tough suburbs.
The word “bitch” has become OK. At least, according to the creators of a new ABC sitcom entitled “Don’t Trust the B--- in Apartment 23,” and a local author who chose not to restyle the word in the title of her new novel.
Dover author Janet Eve Josselyn recently finished “Thin Rich Bitches,” a narrative on social climbing in the suburbs, set partly in Wellesley. She took the time to chat with Wellesley Patch about her experiences as a suburbanite and how sometimes…things get bitchy.
Wellesley Patch: So, let’s start with your book’s title. How did you come up with it?
Janet Eve Josselyn: I came up with the title first. You have to write about what you know I guess. I thought it was a catchy title, and it would be a story about interaction between women. I decided to set the story in Dover, Wellesley and Nantucket.
WP: How did you come up with the story?
JEJ: I did not do an outline. I did everything wrong. You’re supposed to come up with an outline and write from your outline. I didn’t do that, I just started typing. I know it’s not the right way to do it.
WP: I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way…
JEJ: Really? I think my very first draft…did wander a bit. I had no idea where it was going or how it would end when I started it.
WP: Well it finds its way to Wellesley, why?
JEJ: There are scenes set in Wellesley. I do believe there’s one at Irresistables. There are scenes at Starbucks in Wellesley. For anyone who lives in Dover, we don’t have clothing stores. We only have one little café and one local grocery store, so when women get together they have to get together for coffee or lunch in Wellesley.
WP: What’s your background?
JEJ: I went to architecture school at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard and then worked as an architect for three years. I wanted to do architecture law, went back to school to get a law degree at Boston College and started practicing construction law. Then moved over to the public sector. I was an attorney for the city of Boston, and I did that until I moved back to Dover with my husband and baby. When I moved here I stopped working in the traditional sense and started doing a lot of writing. I published pieces in More Magazine and humor sites based in the United Kingdom. I just started doing it as a hobby.
WP: Your main character Pippin has to learn the art of “social climbing.” What exactly does she have to do as a social climber?
JEJ: As a kitchen designer, she was also trying to make friends in the town she lived in. She was trying to make friends with people that probably she wasn’t going to meet them at the country or polo clubs. She didn’t have the money to join such clubs, but…whether it was through her wardrobe or through her social status or through her home, work, anything, she kept bumping into a wall where she felt she didn’t measure up. It’s really more just trying to fit in, trying to make friends and feeling that these people were [at a level] where she just couldn’t get to. I think everyone has been in a situation where they looked at everyone around them and felt that they were inadequate in some way.
WP: So it’s not necessarily a feminist narrative, it’s more just about coping with feeling out of place?
JEJ: It’s not a feminist narrative, no. It’s more human interaction. Interactions between and amongst women in particular. I happen to set it in a wealthy suburb of Boston, which brings in certain [elements] as well. But I think it’s absolutely a universal story, which could be placed anywhere. It’s focusing on competition between women.
WP: Have you run into a marketing problem because the word “bitch” is in the title?
JEJ: No I have not actually. I haven’t found anyone who wasn’t happy putting the “I” in [the word “bitch”]. But I put an asterisk there in places where I thought women might be with their children.
WP: You’ve heard of that new show on ABC originally titled “Don’t Trust the B---in Apartment 23,” which premiered this week?
JEJ: Yes I saw that.
WP: So the word “bitch” is becoming OK, or something?
JEJ: Oh, I think it has totally become acceptable. There are many books with the word “bitch” in the title, and they don’t seem to be getting bleeped. I think it’s something you can say now.