Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Kerry Winfrey

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About Kerry Winfrey

Kerry Winfrey grew up in Bellville, Ohio, where she spent most of her time reading inappropriate books at the library. Not much has changed. She is the author of Love and Other Alien Experiences and the forthcoming Things Jolie Needs To Do Before She Bites It. Kerry has written for HelloGiggles and many other websites. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, their son, and their dog, Merlin. When she isn’t writing she can be found watching romantic comedies and making way too many baked goods.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

There are a lot of reasons to love Mia Thermopolis, the heroine of Meg Cabot’s iconic Princess Diaries series. She loves her cat, Fat Louie. She’s bad at math (relatable). She cares about everyone in her life, from her family to her friends to her loyal subjects in the fictional-but-real-in-my-heart country of Genovia. She just seems like a regular, down to earth girl, other than that whole “being a princess” thing. (And, okay, maybe I should refer to her as Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo-Moscovitz, but I don’t think she’s really someone who insists on being called by her full name.)

But there’s one particular thing about Mia that I think about, no kidding, at least once a week: she’s a romance novelist. Obviously Mia has always been a writer — I mean, she’s constantly sneaking off to public restrooms so she can immediately scribble down what just happened into her journal — but in the tenth book, Forever Princess, Mia writes a romance novel after plenty of encouragement from her romance-obsessed friend Tina Hakim Baba.

A princess and a romance novelist…talk about a dream career. But Mia starts feeling insecure about it because Michael Moscovitz, the love of her life and quite possibly one of the greatest fictional boyfriends ever created, is a super-genius. He’s creating some sort of robotic surgical arm that will save people’s lives, and Mia starts to think that maybe she isn’t doing anything important by writing romance instead of literally saving lives. But then Michael, stand up guy that he is, reminds Mia that while his robotic surgical arm is operating on someone, that person’s family members might be out in the waiting room reading her book, letting it momentarily distract them from their worry.

And I get that. It’s so easy to feel like what I’m writing (light, funny stuff that always features a climactic kiss) is inconsequential compared to people who write serious, politically relevant books…or people who don’t write books at all! I mean, I’m not a nurse or a firefighter or a politician. At times like these, when we’re constantly reminded of the tragedy in the world and the people who are suffering, when families are being torn apart at the U.S. border and people’s rights are regularly threatened, I start to feel like what I’m doing doesn’t matter. Much like Mia, I know people who are actually doctors — people who save lives and research important things and help people in tangible ways. I’m just writing some jokes and kissing scenes.

But then I remember what Mia herself says at the end of the book:

“I know now that there are ways I can work it so I can help people, and maybe, in the end, even make the world a better place. Not in huge ways, necessarily. Sure, I’m not going to invent a robotic surgical arm that’s going to save people’s lives. But I’ve written a book that might, like Michael said, make someone whose loved one is being operated on by that arm forget about how scared she is while she’s in the waiting room.”

When my mother-in-law was sick with breast cancer, we spent a lot of time visiting the hospital. It was specifically a cancer hospital, and despite the gleaming floors and cheery decorations and bustling atmosphere, every time we got on the elevator I would think, “Every person here is having one of the worst days of their life.” Every single person we passed in the hallway, whether they were a patient or a family member, was dealing with something terrible. Maybe even the nurses and doctors I passed were having a particularly rough day.

Later, on the 14-hour drive home from my mother-in-law’s funeral, I read Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake. I needed to read something romantic and fun, something where hope and love and optimism won out in the end. That book was a lifeline at a time when I felt terrible, and I was grateful to have it there to grasp onto.

And, much like Mia, I think that’s pretty great. Sure, my writing is never going to actually save a life, but I can think about those people in hospitals — those people who are all dealing with specific and individual heartbreaks that I can’t even imagine. They deserve something that will make them feel, if not better, then comforted for even a moment.

Maybe Princess Mia and I are never going invent that robotic surgical arm, but that doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t useful. My writing motto, the mantra I repeat when things get tough or I start to feel like what I’m writing isn’t “serious” enough, is “remember the people in the waiting rooms.” I have Princess Mia and Meg Cabot to thank for that.

Title Things Jolie Needs To Do Before She Bites It
Author Kerry Winfrey
Pages 288 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
To Be Published July 10th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Jolie’s a lot of things, but she knows that pretty isn’t one of them. She has mandibular prognathism, which is the medical term for underbite. Chewing is a pain, headaches are a common occurrence, and she’s never been kissed. She’s months out from having a procedure to correct her underbite, and she cannot wait to be fixed.

Jolie becomes paralyzed with the fear that she could die under the knife. She and her best friends Evelyn and Derek decide to make a THINGS JOLIE NEEDS TO DO BEFORE SHE BITES IT (WHICH IS SUPER UNLIKELY BUT STILL IT COULD HAPPEN) list. Things like: eat every appetizer on the Applebee’s menu and kiss her crush Noah Reed.

Their plan helps Jolie discover what beauty truly means to her.

Kerry Winfrey’s heartfelt and humorous novel takes a real look at how we perceive beauty.

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