Jennifer Weiner was born in 1970 on an army base in Louisiana. She grew up in Connecticut and graduated with a degree in English literature from Princeton University in 1991. She worked as a newspaper reporter in central Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Philadelphia until the publication of her first novel in 2001, and has been a full-time fiction writer ever since.
Her books include GOOD IN BED (2001); IN HER SHOES (2002), which was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine; LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, (2004); GOODNIGHT NOBODY (2005); the short story collection THE GUY NOT TAKEN (2006); CERTAIN GIRLS (2008), the sequel to GOOD IN BED, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (2009); FLY AWAY HOME (2010); and THEN CAME YOU (2011). She is also the co-creator and executive producer of the ABC Family show State of Georgia, which ran during the summer of 2011.
Jen is a frequent public speaker who has appeared on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, The Martha Stewart Show, The Rachael Ray Show, and a number of defunct national talk shows that she suspects she killed just by showing up. Her work has appeared in Seventeen, Salon, Redbook, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, In Style and Elle. She writes occasionally for the Huffington Post and on her own blog right here. In 2011, Time Magazine named her as one of its 140 Best Twitter feeds.
Jen likes sunsets, sushi, reality TV and long walks on the beach and dislikes fake people, humidity, and entrenched sexism in the literary world. Her last name is not pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled. She can be found on Facebook, and on Twitter, where she keeps readers up to date on her writing life and live-tweets cheesy reality TV shows, including but not limited to “The Bachelor.”
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March 28, 1970: Jennifer Agnes Weiner is born on an army base in DeRidder, Louisiana. Why Louisiana? Why Agnes? Her parents have no answers.
1972: Displaying excellent judgment at an early age, Jen ditches DeRidder and relocates to Simsbury, Connecticut, with her parents and sister Molly. They are eventually joined by brothers Jake and Joe.
1975-1987: Public schools and many unfortunate hair and fashion choices.
1987: Jen graduates Simsbury High School as graduation speaker and heads off to New Jersey for college. Most common yearbook inscription? “Good luck at Princeton. Don’t take any math!”
1987-1991: Jen attends Princeton University where she majors in English, minors in rabble-rousing, and doesn’t take any math. As co-founder of the Committee to Coeducate Eating Clubs, she leads a campus-wide campaign to get the school's two remaining all-male eating clubs to accept female members. She also takes creative writing courses with J.D. McClatchy, Ann Lauterbach, John McPhee, Toni Morrison, and Joyce Carol Oates, who she sometimes likes to imagine standing in a circle saying, “GOOD IN BED?...No, I don’t remember her at all.”
In 1990, Jen wins Princeton's Academy of American Poets prize. She writes her senior thesis on representations of maternity in women's novels and film. Her mother promises that she's read every word of her thesis. Jen's not sure.
1991: After graduating summa cum laude and realizing that she is qualified to do nothing but write self-conscious short stories about her parents' divorce, Jen takes John McPhee's advice and goes into journalism. After a six-week stint at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida, Jen is hired as the education reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania.
1992: In addition to her reporting duties, Jen begins writing op-ed pieces about Generation X. The columns are eventually distributed on the Knight-Ridder news wire and appear in papers nationwide. Also, Jen's self-conscious short story about divorce, "Tour of Duty," is published in Seventeen Magazine, her first story to appear in print, for which Jen is paid one thousand dollars; most of which goes toward the purchase of a couch from Ikea.
1993: Jen continues writing columns, news and feature pieces. Her short story, "Someone to Trust" is published in Redbook. Jen acquires Wendell, a small, spotted, anxious, ten-pound rat terrier who will appear, in various incarnations, in many of her later works, and whose handsome visage graces the back cover of GOOD IN BED.
1994: Jen goes to work in the features department of the Lexington Herald-Leader, in Lexington, KY. She also writes columns about Generation X for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which continues to distribute them nationally. However, editors refuse to give her column the title she's long yearned for: The Joy of X.
1995: The Inquirer hires Jen as a general-assignment features reporter, with the stipulation that she quit writing opinion pieces. Realizing that she's pretty much ridden the Gen-X trend into the ground, and after editors and peers gently point out that she will not be twentysomething forever, she and Wendell move to Center City, Philadelphia.
1996-1999: Jen profiles Wendy the Snapple Lady, departing Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown, Victoria Gotti and Adam Sandler, and writes long stories about teenage drug abuse, sex and college students, and her grandmother's gefilte fish. She covers a Democratic National Convention, a Presidential inauguration, the Pillsbury Bake-Off, the Miss America Pageant, and Wrestlemania, eventually realizing that these events have more in common than you’d think.
1998: Jen lands a job as a contributing editor at Mademoiselle magazine, where she writes a monthly column about surviving the workplace. Other work is published in Salon.com, Time Out New York, the Columbia Journalism Review and Seventeen. She also appears regularly on "Philly After Midnight," Philadelphia's local late night television show, as a cultural commentator and generally sarcastic person. Within the next few years, Mademoiselle folds, and "Philly After Midnight" goes off the air. Jen tries not to take it personally. In the wake of a bad break-up, Jen starts writing GOOD IN BED, about a girl who’s a lot like her; a guy who’s a lot like Satan, and the girl’s eventual happy ending.
MAY, 2000: Jen sells GOOD IN BED, and the rights to her second novel to Pocket Books (now Atria Books). Wendell insists on a pseudonym, and is not very happy when he learns that, as far as the reading world is concerned, his name is Nifkin.
MAY, 2001: GOOD IN BED is published, earning starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus, and an "A" from Entertainment Weekly. Jen embarks on an 18-city tour that takes her from New York City and Philadelphia to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and eventually to London. By the end of May, GOOD IN BED makes the New York Times' best-seller list. Best of all, Jen knows for certain that her mother has read every word.
APRIL, 2002: GOOD IN BED comes out in paperback and hits bestseller lists nationwide. Jen embarks on a nine-city tour that takes her to Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, and two hotels with bidets in the bathrooms.
SEPTEMBER, 2002: IN HER SHOES, the story of two sisters with nothing in common but the same size feet and the grandmother they never knew, is published. People calls it "an entertaining romp through family battles and toxic relationships." USA Today says the book "will make you laugh and possibly cry." Film rights are optioned by Fox 2000, with Susannah Grant (ERIN BROCKOVICH, EVER AFTER) hired to adapt.
LATE FALL, 2002: Jen returns to Philadelphia to concentrate on her third book, LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, and on Lucy Jane, who made her debut on May 10, 2003.
JANUARY, 2004: Production on “In Her Shoes,” the movie begins, with Oscar-winning director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys) at the helm, and with Toni Collette as Rose Feller, Cameron Diaz as Maggie Feller and Shirley MacLaine as Ella. Jen’s sister Molly nabs a coveted role as a featured extra and places the following phone call: “Toni Collette looks terrible! They’ve got her in these frumpy clothes, and she has a hideous hairdo...she looks JUST LIKE YOU!” Jen assumes that Molly is kidding.
APRIL, 2004: Production moves to Philadelphia, then on to Florida. Jen, her agent and, most importantly of all, her Nanna, all get to be extras in the film.
SEPTEMBER, 2004: LITTLE EARTHQUAKES is published. The Washington Post writes “Weiner’s gift lies in her ability to create characters who both amuse us and make us care,” and the Tampa Tribune says the book “will charm and delight readers with its mix of heartbreak and humor.”
MARCH, 2005: Jen attends a screening of “In Her Shoes” in Los Angeles. Determined not to make a complete fool of herself, she holds it together for the first ten seconds, then bursts into tears the instant the Fox logo flashes on-screen, clutching Armani-clad arm of executive sitting beside her and and blurting, “That part came out great!” Jen and her agent, little sister Molly, and, most importantly, Nanna, can all be glimpsed in the final cut. Jen exhales, confident of enjoying a tension-free Passover.
SEPTEMBER, 2005: Jen’s fourth novel, GOODNIGHT NOBODY is published, and reaches number two on the New York Times best seller list. The Washington Post writes “Weiner’s got a brilliant eye for social stratum, character sketches, and rendering of suburban atmospherics.” Janet Maslin of The New York Times says, “"Jennifer Weiner's moment has arrived. Her fourth and latest book, Goodnight Nobody, confirms that she's giving 'chick lit' a good name. She writes characters who could be anyone's best friends, and in this book, she has a funny, malicious, Desperate Housewives eye for suburban life."
Unfortunately, she says this on the CBS Sunday Morning Show. And pronounces Jen’s last name “Weener.”
But it’s the thought that counts!
OCTOBER, 2005: “In Her Shoes,” the movie, is released to glowing reviews. Jen’s Mom accompanies her to Los Angeles for the premiere, along with her sister, brothers, Nanna, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Freddy, who proclaims that “this is the first movie in a long time where I didn’t fall asleep.” Do endorsements get any better than that? Jen thinks not.
SEPTEMBER, 2006: Jen’s first short story collection, THE GUY NOT TAKEN, is published. USA TODAY writes that the book “showcases a maturing Weiner,” which Jen finds endlessly hilarious. “Look at this. “Maturing Weiner.” Aren’t there pills for that?” she asks, until her relatives and loved ones ask her to please be quiet please.
“With her latest collection, Weiner is proving that the masters of the oft-maligned chick-lit genre are voices to be reckoned with,” writes the Boston Herald. People Magazine says even the notes on the stories are a hoot, while Entertainment Weekly puts the collection on its Must List, saying “it is the reader who will be taken with these eleven short stories.”
NOVEMBER 30, 2007: The tiny and beauteous Phoebe Pearl makes her debut.
APRIL, 2008: CERTAIN GIRLS, the sequel to GOOD IN BED, hits bookstores and bestseller lists nationwide. Publishers Weekly calls it “hilarious.” Kirkus says it’s “heartfelt and funny.” Library Journal kvells “clear your calendar and prepare to read: Cannie Shapiro is back!”
JULY, 2009: BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is published. The novel tells the story of Addie and Val, who were best friends as girls in a Midwestern suburb, parted ways after a stunning betrayal in high school, and reunite on the eve of their fifteenth high-school reunion, when Val shows up at Addie’s door with blood on her coat and fear in her eyes, saying, “Something horrible happened, and you’re the only one who can help.”
The book is compared to Jane Austen by NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan, praised as "another superlative novel about a big girl with a bigger heart" in USA Today, and debuts at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, prompting Jen to get drunk and holler, "Suck it, James Patterson!" from the depths of a hot tub while brandishing a bottle of Champagne, until her six-year-old tells her she’s trying to sleep and takes the bottle away.
JULY, 2010: FLY AWAY HOME is published on July 13. Jen's new novel tells the story of a politician caught in a sex scandal, and the impact of the fallout on his long-suffering wife and his two daughters, one a high achiever trapped in an unhappy marriage, the other a recovering addict trying to get her life on track. The Associated Press describes the book as Jen’s best in years, prompting her entire backlist to go into a jealous sulk, while People magazine proclaimed, “this is summer reading at its best: entertaining and full of insight into relationships and how they change.”
OCTOBER, 2010: ABC Family network invites Jen to Los Angeles to shoot the pilot of “The Great State of Georgia,” the half-hour sitcom she co-created with “Desperate Housewives” writer Jeff Greenstein as part of a two-year development deal with ABC Studios. Jen spends the next few weeks watching “30 Rock” re-runs to try to figure out how to be the boss of a TV show and scrambling to assemble a wardrobe whose main attributes are not “stretchy,” “stain resistant,” and “forgiving.”
Eventually, the pilot, starring Raven-Symoné as the larger-than-life and unshakably confident Georgia Chamberlain, who moves to New York City to try to become a star, is ordered to series a few months later.
JULY, 2011: THEN CAME YOU is published on July 12. The book tells the story of four women and a baby: India Croft, who’s struggled with infertility and a secret past; Jules Strauss, an Ivy League student who sells her eggs to help her father, Annie Barrow, who goes to work as a gestational surrogate to help her working-class family and give her young sons a better life, and Bettina Croft, India’s twentysomething stepdaughter, who’s got deep suspicions about her new stepmother. The Philadelphia Inquirer raves that the book is “entertaining enough to make you forget to reapply the 30 SPF [but] don’t be surprised if it also makes you contemplate some important, complex matters along the way,” while the Washington Post says, “Weiner’s characters project a friendly, vulnerable, teasing, familiar quality that suggests you and the author could be BFFs.” (That sound you heard was Jen’s actual BFF rolling her eyes. Hard).
SUMMER, 2011: So it turns out that casting a newly-slimmed-down ex-Disney-child-star as your “but she was supposed to be plus-size! And Jewish!” heroine is perhaps not the best way to ensure great ratings. The retitled “State of Georgia” runs for eleven episodes and is summarily canceled, thus ensuring that the words “short-lived” will forever be a part of Jen’s official biography. Jen’s daughters assure her that they thought the show was wonderful. Jen’s mother assures her that “it’s all material!” Jen takes to Twitter and Facebook to express her deep gratitude for everyone who gave Georgia a chance, and gets to work on her next book.
MAY, 2012: THEN CAME YOU is published in paperback. Jen’s daughters persist in asking, “When are you going to have another TV show?”
JULY 3, 2012: THE NEXT BEST THING is scheduled for publication. It’s the story of TV writer Ruth Saunders, star of the short story “Swim,” who has her fondest wish come true when the show she writes, based loosely on her own life, gets the green light…and suffers Hollywood heartbreak when things, with the show and in her life, don’t go exactly as planned (for starters, the plus-size star of her show loses a lot of weight). THE NEXT BEST THING, with its insider’s perspective on writers’ rooms, actors, executives, and what it’s like to write a sit-com and film before a live studio audience. It’s also possible that the book will ensure that the answer to Jen’s daughters’ question is “Never!” But! It’s also possibly the funniest, edgiest book since GOOD IN BED, and Jen devoutly hopes that Hollywood is a forgiving place, full of people with generous hearts, kindly dispositions and very poor short-term memories.