Here it is. Finally, in all its glory: my interview with the Queen of all Queens, Jill Conner Browne. If you have been living under a rock (or have never read my blog before,) I will tell you AGAIN that Jill is the reason I pursued my passion of writing– THE reason. Before I discovered her books, I had no idea that non-fiction humor was even a genre of literature. And honest to God, there is no one on this planet that knows funny better than she does.
My stepmother gave me The Queen’s first three books after the unexpected death of Lawson Murphy, a childhood friend who was like a brother. Jill passed the writing litmus test by making me cry so hard I had snot running down my face while simultaneously snorting so hard with laughter that I produced actual snot bubbles. Do you even know how difficult it is to get those kinds of emotions on paper?
So I followed The Queen from afar for almost 7 years before I started pursuing writing myownself, as she herownself would say. When I started the process of looking for a literary agent I realized that my three of my favorite humorists (Jill, Celia Rivenbark and Laurie Notaro) were all represented by the same agent, Ms Jenny Bent.
I sent Jenny a query letter and almost vomited I was so nervous. I made myself feel better by repeatedly saying, “She’ll never read it. She’ll never read it. She’ll never read it.” But she did. And she liked it. And she offered to represent me. And I LOST my ever loving mind.
Seriously, I ran screaming out of my house whilst nursing my baby who was about six months old at the time, waking up all of my children and scaring the crap out of my next door neighbor. (Sorry Connie.)
During my first phone conversation with Jenny she referred to Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen, as “Jill” and I had heart palpitations. Just Jill. Seriously.
I emailed Jill Conner Browne, her highness, The Sweet Potato Queen, shortly after signing with Jenny and professed my undying love and admiration. Turns out “Jill” is as sweet and kind as she is funny. (Don’t you love it when that happens?) She has encouraged me and taken the time to give me advice even though she is a Very Important Person and has very important things to do, which makes me love her even more.
If you haven’t read her books you need to get on amazon.com RIGHT NOW and order every single one of them. You will laugh like an idiot and drool over the recipes she shares.
Without further ado, here are a few words from my Queenie:
For a significant period of time you were a single mother. (Standing ovation for you.) What was the most difficult aspect of being single parent?
I just had the one daughter and she was an especially good one (by the Grace of God) and so I really didn’t experience single parenthood as difficult. Maybe it was and I was just too busy to notice! My Mother was a tremendous help to me—until she had a stroke and then I took care of her. That was a huge challenge—becoming the parent to my parent—much more difficult than raising my daughter by myself.
What would you say to encourage the single moms of today?
You WILL survive your children’s teenage years. Remember your OWN and be very remorseful—it won’t help you but it will make your Mother very happy.
Have you caught any flack from fellow believers over anything you have written? (In my experience “the church” doesn’t always have the best sense of humor. Although I think, many of your books paint an amazingly clear picture of how to live your best life. I’ve contemplated having the last chapter of American Thighs tattooed on my body. Sadly, I have plenty of room to do this.)
On the contrary, I hear from countless Believers thanking me for putting their own feelings into words. Humorless People don’t often read my books so I am pretty safe from them.
As I writer of non-fiction, so much of your life is public knowledge, like your recent ta-ta scare. I often find myself thinking as I write about my kids, my life and my family, “Will this hurt anyone’s feelings? Am I being too honest? Sharing too much? Will this make my kids mad in five years?” Have you ever written about anything you wished you had kept private? How do you know where to draw the line?
If I have any doubt, I leave it out so, no regrets so far. My daughter loves my books. My Mother could never get over my “language” but that was hardly a new development for us. People TELL me incredible stories all the time, in HOPES that I will use them—and I do—but with rare exceptions, I change their names—just to protect innocent people that they might not have considered in the throes of their “sharing.”
And lastly, WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO O-FFICIALLY BE NAMED A WANNABE? If I don’t have an o-fficial title of some sort I will DIE.
OOOOH—the O-FFICIAL SPQ® Wannabe’s ™ are a tough group to break into—they’re all real mean! Bwahaha! No, really, they are! There are Major Disturbances every year over the New Old Outfits and the Old Old Outfits and who gets to wear what, etc. The first thing to do is just declare yourself to be The Queen of Whatever You Choose and come to the Million Queen March ™ Weekend as that Queen and suck up to the O-fficials A LOT. It may well take more than one or two years’ worth of sucking up but the plan would be to so ingratiate yourself to them that they will INVITE you to join and help you in your battle for securing an Outfit that might actually fit you.
I will be at the annual Sweet Potato Queen March this year, as the Head Boss Queen of the Teal Magnolias, we are “Working on a Lifetime of Wonderful,” and will be dressed to the nines. If you want to join us you’d better hurry up and book a hotel room now!
Check out The Sweet Potato Queen’s O-fficial website for more details about the parade, all proceeds go to Blair Batson Children’s Hospital. Follow Jill on Twitter, or friend her on Facebook, if you don’t already, you’re going to love her.