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Show Me the Funny

I was delighted to have the recent opportunity to interview the author of one wickedly funny parenting book. Mary K. Moore, a successful magazine writer and editor, has written The Unexpected When You’re Expecting, a parody of the pregnancy Bible that women either love or hate.

Q. Your book is completely hilarious, irreverent, and made me laugh out loud. Even my husband read portions of it, although I suspect it’s because I told him you were a babe. I love that it makes fun of that uber guide to pregnancy, What to Expect ... (i.e., What to Expect to Freak the Hell Out About During Your Pregnancy). There are several humorous pregnancy and motherhood books on the market, though. What makes yours different?
A. I’m glad you—and your husband—enjoyed the book. I always like to stress we’re less about making fun of What to Expect as using it as a familiar format to lampoon pregnancy and motherhood. I don’t really have anything against the book per se. It was a little homespun for my taste, but I went out and bought it. My mom is a little homespun, too, but I keep her around. As for The Unexpected, we’ve gotten a surprisingly huge response to the book—we went into a second printing a month after its release—so I’m thrilled we’ve hit a nerve. I think what makes it different is, unlike a lot of pregnancy or motherhood books, it’s not experience specific. In other words, you don’t have to have someone marinating in your uterus to be in on the joke. The humor is less about girlfriend empathy as it is just funny for funny sake.

Q. What would you say to people who might find your humor offensive?
A. Well, it’s a parody so I’m always a little surprised when someone takes it seriously. We’re supposed to be over-the-top and in the case of The Unexpected, a little snarky. But as for being offensive, I don’t think it’s worse than anything you see on prime-time television. Just because you lose your ability to menstruate doesn’t mean you lose your edge. I didn’t want the typical ice cream-and-pickles punch lines; I was aiming for Daily Show with a due date.

Q. What’s the most idiotic thing someone said to you while you were pregnant?
A. “Is it twins?” It wasn’t. I hated that.

Q. What made you take the leap from successful magazine writer and editor to author?
A. I was working in New York magazines for about ten years, and like a lot of high-octane careers, there’s a burnout factor. I loved magazines, but I was either covering a vicious murder or the best spa treatments—and the pendulum swing was disorienting. Also, any good magazine writer is a mimic of sorts. You are trained to duplicate each magazine’s voice to keep the brand consistent. Writing books was a way to explore my own voice. Or I should say, a very extreme version of my own voice. I had to project on the negative stuff. I actually had an idyllic pregnancy and thought motherhood was a cinch. I always say anyone who thinks having a baby is hard has never worked in publishing. And unlike publishing, with real babies, there’s less crying.

Q. Red or white wine or tequila?

A. Oddly enough, I rarely drink. Although I wish I could pin some of the material on writing under the influence.

Q. So, you’re the mother of a three-year-old daughter. Do you think you’ll have any more children?
A. I’m not sure. I go back and forth. I’m at that stage where she’s incredibly easy now, and I’m starting to get that nature’s amnesia that makes you forget they had to ride backward in a car seat for the first year. Who knows, maybe I’ll let my guard down at some point in my reproductive years—perhaps tequila would help.

Q. Do you have any final words of wisdom to first time moms out there?
A. Motherhood isn’t one size fits all. Read the pregnancy and parenting books you want and then cherry pick the advice that works for you. And when you’re done with the homework and obsessively Googling words like “placenta previa,” we’ll be here.

The Unexpected When You’re Expecting is available at bookstores nationwide.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Reeves

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