Jessica Grose’s Sad Desk Salad is a smart, funny and juicy look at our celebrity-obsessed society. A debut author we plan to keep our eye on, Jessica chats with SheKnows about everything from how much of this book is based on her real life to her biggest surprise about the publishing to her pregnancy (she’s due in two months).
SheKnows: Tweet us a blurb of your novel. (In 140 characters or fewer, of course!)
Jessica Grose: This time, the devil wears sweatpants.
SheKnows: Love the title of your book. How did you come up with it?
Jessica Grose: Thank you! Funnily enough, Twitter was part of it! It was a rainy November day in 2010 and I was eating yet another soggy salad at my desk (this is when I worked at Slate). I tweeted something like, “Nothing worse than a sad desk salad on a cold and rainy day,” and the writer Lily Burana tweeted back at me that I should write a novel called Sad Desk Salad. I had already been mulling an idea for a novel that took place at a women’s website, so I was like, title, done! I am paranoid, so after I started actually working on the book, I went back and deleted the tweet so no one could steal the title.
SheKnows: You worked as a deputy editor of Vulture, New York magazine’s culture site. How much of your real-life experiences, if any, are in this novel?
Jessica Grose: I would say the book is maybe 30 percent based on my real life experience. Basically my entire career has been spent working online—at Spin.com, Radar.com, Jezebel.com, Slate.com and then Vulture (I am freelance now and do print and online work). So certainly I drew from those experiences to give readers some idea of what it’s like to be a full-time blogger, though the book is an exaggerated version of what I experienced. I was blessed to have almost exclusively awesome coworkers in real life, so Alex, the heroine’s peers are fictional. I also drew from some disastrous dating experiences in my early 20s to flesh out some of Alex’s personal life.
But again, most of the details there are fiction as well. Her parents are nothing like my parents, her boyfriend is nothing like my husband, etc.
SheKnows: As a debut author, what’s been the biggest surprise you’ve had during your road to publication?
Jessica Grose: How generous other, more established writers have been. Jennifer Weiner, Amy Sohn, and Valerie Frankel, who are all ridiculously talented and busy, were willing to read my book and give me blurbs. I expected the blurb process to be fraught and possibly humiliating, because it’s a big ask, but these great women have all been so willing to pay it forward.
SheKnows: What debut author(s) are you loving right now?
Jessica Grose: I am so late to the party on The Art of Fielding but I just finished it and Chad Harbach is amazing. My favorite book of the summer was a second novel but I have to mention it because I think everyone should read it: Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. It was so much fun.
SheKnows: What’s up next for you?
Jessica Grose: I’m seven months pregnant so giving birth to a healthy baby is on my near-term to-do list:) But workwise, I am going to continue to freelance for magazines and websites, and I have some ideas for book projects that will hopefully come to fruition before the end of the year.