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Bestselling Author Stephanie Land on Writing Two Memoirs, Goodreads Reviews, and the Advice She’d Give Her Younger Self

Monday, November 06, 2023

“Slowing the pace down and immersing myself in the moment in order to preserve it. I think that’s how I get the most joy out of writing.”

Stephanie Land, bestselling author of Maid–the memoir that was turned into the hit TV series–is now publishing her second memoir, Class, the GMA Book Club pick for November. Both memoirs are deeply intimate and depict Land’s struggles, unique perspectives, and undeniable strength in the face of adversity. Class picks up right where Land left off in Maid, taking us through her new challenges of being a poor college student and single parent. Read Land’s interview below to learn more about her emotional writing process, what she’s learned through writing memoirs, and more.

Zibby Mag: What was the experience like writing your first book, Maid? Was it difficult to relive those experiences as you wrote?

Stephanie Land: Absolutely. I used photographs to guide me as I wrote, and I stared at ones from the car accident we were in for two weeks before I could get that scene out.

How different was your experience writing your most recent book, Class, versus Maid? Though Class is about a different portion of your life, did similar emotions or challenges surface while writing?

With Maid, I had no idea how many people would read it. I figured somewhere around a few thousand would at most. With Class, I knew that number would be a lot higher, so it was difficult to write the book for the one person who needed it the most like I had with the first one. I also knew about things like hate-filled Goodreads and Amazon reviews, and it was really hard to keep those “voices” out of my head. I actually named one “Barbara from Michigan.”

Class is a continuation of the same story but a lot more angry and raw. Part of that was cathartic but it’s mostly terrifying.

How did it feel to watch Maid play out on screen? Were you a part of the adaptation process, and if so, did you enjoy it?

It was triggering to watch, and incredibly hard. I was not part of the process except being available to answer questions and share photos.

Are you anxious to see readers’ responses to this book? What do you expect from their reactions?

Well, I have General Anxiety Disorder so of course there’s a lot of anxiety there. I don’t know what to expect. I did a lot of experimental writing, tried some new things, and worked closely with my ghost editor to break the wall between past and present self in the narration. I wrote the book really fast–31 total writing days–and had a quick turnaround with edits, so it felt really rushed and still kind of feels that way. The scenes with my daughter are the ones I put a lot of effort into– slowing the pace down and immersing myself in the moment in order to preserve it. I think that’s how I get the most joy out of writing.

If you could go back in time and say something to your younger self at the “start” of Maid, what advice would you give her?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’d also probably say you don’t have to stay in Washington if you don’t want to!

Do you think you’ll write another memoir after Class? Would you ever consider writing fiction?

Oh god, I can’t make stuff up. Ha. It always comes out so cheesy-sounding. Once I forget what it’s like to promote a memoir, I’ll probably write another one. Writing a book is a lot like having a baby. People ask you when you’re having another one as you’re struggling to hold a newborn, so you say you might just to be polite, but you have to forget what it’s like to be in labor and give birth first.

Posted November 6, 2023