Jennifer Weiner was barely a minute into her interviewing duties when she admitted something pretty personal to her subject, Judy Blume. At the top of her notes for the day's discussion, held at BookCon 2015 on May 31 to promote Blume's In the Unlikely Event , Weiner had left a command: "Don't. Cry." The author managed to keep it together during the hourlong discussion, but as she freely admitted, her "12-year-old self is sobbing."
And no wonder; as Weiner said herself during the panel, Blume is a hero to girls and women everywhere (or, as Weiner called her, "the world's coolest babysitter"), thanks to her candid, heartfelt discussions on topics like sex and puberty in books such as Deenie, Blubber, and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? As Weiner said, the author's books "make us feel less alone in the world... [they let] all girls know, 'you’re not the only one.'"
That Blume is so loved, even by her fellow writers, is no surprise (although it is great to hear). Here are 11 things you probably didn't know about the author, as revealed by Blume at BookCon 2015:
She Was Always Creative — But When She Stopped, She Got Sick
Blume said that she was "very active" in high school, acting as a reporter, dancer, and singer. But when she got married at 21 and had two kids shortly thereafter, she lost the creative outlet she'd had when she was younger. As a result, she got sick — and has learned since the importance of always having a channel for her energy.
She Identifies With Sheila The Great
It's no secret that Blume considers Sally J. Freeman her most autobiographical character, but apparently, there's some of her in her other heroines, too. The author revealed that she was an "anxious kid" just like Sheila, always nervous; to this day, she's phobic about thunderstorms.
She Used To Make Up Book Reports — And Got As
Unsatisfied with the books meant for her age but worried the adult books she read weren't appropriate for school, a sixth grade Blume created fake characters and novels to report on for class (and received top grades for her "work"). Said an amused Weiner, "we're all professional liars."
She Loves To Read, But Never While She's Writing
Blume adores fiction (she counts Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as a recent favorite), but she can't read novels when she's writing one of her own. Reading (and judging, and comparing) other books, she said, can "destroy" her own, and so she tries to stay away from fiction during the writing process.
She's Happy To Write About Sex — But Maybe Not Right Now
Blume is known as being fearless when it comes to writing about sex and sexuality, but she admitted that she has no real desire to discuss those topics when it involves people her age. She's thrilled that older women are getting important roles in books — but when it comes to the intimate stuff, she's not jumping at the chance to discuss "sex in your 70s."
Her Husband Calls Her "Goddess"
In a teasing way, like "Goddess, what's for dinner?" But still.
She Didn't Write As A Child
Although she worked on her school paper and enjoyed English class assignments, Blume said that she didn't truly become a writer until much later. During her youth, she said, "all my stories were inside my head."
She Loves Twitter, But It Makes Her Nervous
Blume is an active social media user with a huge following, but she said that being so public can be "dangerous because of the expectations." Make one wrong comment, and it's all over the Internet in a matter of minutes. Thankfully, most of her tweets involve movies and Mad Men , so it looks like she'll be okay.
HerDaughter Once Had To Prove She Was Her Mother
When Blume's daughter was young, she encountered a child on a plane who was reading one of her mother's books. When she informed him of this, he didn't believe her — so to prove it, he asked her the hardest question of all: "what's her daughter's name?" It's safe to say she shut him up fast.
She Used To Wish She Could Rewrite One Of Her Books
Although Blume doesn't believe in writing regret, she did say that she used to wish she could rewrite Iggie's House to make it a better book. Still, her mantra is "it’s not that they’re good, it’s that they’re done,” and she doesn't typically dwell on the past.
She Has A Special Test For Writing Sex Scenes
And it's simple: “I know it’s good if it turns me on.”