Zibby Owens: Welcome to “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books,” Arden. Thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Arden Myrin: Zibby, I was so excited to be asked. Thank you. I’m a fan.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh. First of all, the care package you sent with this, it was months ago now, I was like, this is going to be so fun. Anybody who’s cool enough to put their worst middle school or lower school picture on a puzzle is my kind of — that’s really awesome. Little Miss Little Compton, really awesome.

Arden: Thank you so much. That was what I actually wanted for the cover. I did recreate my sixth-grade photo. I begged for them to put that on the cover, and they wouldn’t. I actually love the cover. I think I got the right cover. I think they were right, but I was excited. I was like, I can’t have recreated that and just have it go nowhere. I was like, I’m going to do a meet-the-author with me and my cat, Mittens.

Zibby: It’s perfect. I love how you got it in there. It was perfect. Also, when I watched you jumping up and down on Instagram and you were like, “I wrote a book. I wrote a book. I wrote a book,” literally, I wanted to applaud. That was so cute. You can just tell how proud you are. You should be that proud. It’s an amazing accomplishment.

Arden: For anybody out there who is an author or a first-time, so somebody who’s never written a book or is writing, I have to tell you, I am so short attention span theater, the sheer fact that — I’ve always been, in life, I could make magic in a short period of time, but I’ve never been the long-distance race — if I can’t finish it in one sitting, I generally wouldn’t do it. I will say for anybody out there that is an author, I had this fantasy that if you sold a book and you wrote a book, that an author gets up and they have their breakfast, and then they log in at ten and they’re done at four. Then they go on a walk and then have a brandy and watch some classy thing on television. Particularly in the beginning, it was almost like, you stay in your corner, I’ll stay in mine, page. The blank page, I was cautiously approaching it like a caged animal. I would, in the beginning, just do twenty-five minutes a day at first. I would time it. I wouldn’t go online. I wouldn’t check my texts. I wouldn’t be calling anybody. It was just facing myself. Then eventually, I could go a little bit longer. Anybody who knows me, it is a huge accomplishment to actually just allow the process. I started with the word count. I had a pretty aggressively structured proposal which gave me the format. I was so overwhelmed. I started with the word count. I printed it all out. I organized everything. Then I just allowed for it to be a terrible first draft like I was going to Michael’s crafts and I was getting glue and felt and yarn and sparkles and to trust that I had to just get the material. Then when I had all the words out, then I went through chapter by chapter and really made sure to tighten and shine each one up and then made sure the flow of the arch of the narrative made sense.

Zibby: Wow. It came off as one really cohesive story. The part that I found really interesting — it was all awesome, your description of where you grew up and your dad, Willy. He was right off the page. I feel like I got to know him so well, his foibles and his strengths and weaknesses and all the rest. It’s almost how the book developed unintentionally because you were talking about your life and then things happened through the writing so that you could even say, “While I wanted to make this like a beach read, now it’s serious,” but so poignant and moving. I don’t want to give anything away that happens later even though it’s your life.

Arden: It’s an interesting thing. This was a book that I’d been trying to sell for a while. I had this unusual upbringing. It’s a small-town life. My parents married on a dare. I had this very salty dad. He’s a great literary character, maybe not so great in person as a dad, but a great literary character. I thought I could this tell this funny story. If you read it, there’s a twist at the end that was not part of the original plan. I thought it would just be a fun, female comedian, here’s all my most embarrassing stories. Here’s my quirky upbringing. Here’s my Dorothy going to Oz, how to go from a town with a general store and make it onto a sitcom. Here’s all that fun. Then an event happens on the day that I find out that I’ve sold the book that alters the entire DNA of it and I actually think made it a better book. I mean, made life trickier.

Zibby: I agree, not that I would wish that to happen.

Arden: I know what’s going on with you. I know you know what that’s like. It’s an interesting thing. We can talk. What do you think? Is it giving stuff away?

Zibby: I don’t know. It’s hard to say because it’s your life. I guess anybody who knows you would know what happened.

Arden: It was sort of this fun beach read for a while. It’s this funny story. In it, my dad had passed away. I was writing about that. It took me about a year, but I was feeling better. The proposal had been getting shopped around. I’m on this show, Insatiable on Netflix. We were back filming in Atlanta. This is eighteen months after my dad had died. Nobody could get in touch with my mom. She had just died making breakfast. She just died. I had to go home. On the way to the funeral in this tiny town, I got this email from a publisher that was like, “Hope you’re having a great week. We’re so excited to do this book with you.” This has been something I’ve been trying to sell for a few years. Then it was so strange that of all the versions of what the book could be, she was barely in the proposal because she wasn’t quite as noisy of a figure. I think it became her book. Then my friend who read it, she’s like, “Arden, it’s not your memoir. It’s your mom-oir.”

I’m sure you’re going through something similar. The experience of when somebody dies, and when somebody dies who’s fun and beloved, people tell you stories about them. All of these stories were told to me that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that she was the den mother of my brother’s cub scout troop. I didn’t know that she’d made a flipbook. I grew up in this town with fisherman and lobsterman. It’s as small as you could possibly imagine. She was like, okay boys, today I’m going to teach you how to put on a Broadway musical. She made a flipbook. Just things like that that I would never have known. It really became a fun tribute to — all it takes is one person rooting for you. My parents married on a dare in Manhattan. They never went on one date. They married on a dare for vacation time. It was this odd upbringing. It just takes one person who’s like, protect your light, go for it, encouraging you.

Zibby: Your mom was, I want to say, such a hoot. Do you know what I mean?

Arden: She was a hoot.

Zibby: She was so funny, even the clips that you put on from when she would call in and you would talk about her as a real estate agent. She just seemed so funny. You clearly had such affection, not just affection like mother-daughter. I feel like it’s such a general term, like, oh, my mother this, but it doesn’t do justice to the crazy people these people are in the world. She was quirky and funny. Then you build her up so much in the writing that when you get to the part with the teacup on the counter, you want to just cry with you.

Arden: It’s an interesting thing. You’re one of the first people who’ve read it. I’ve had a few friends who are comedy friends. They’ll text. They’re like, “Ha-ha, I’m reading. Your dad is eating his sheet cake diet.” Then I’ll get a text that’s like, “Oh, my god, I’m in tears.” I thought, you know what, for me personally, I’m proud of that. I’m not trying to make my friends cry. It’s an interesting thing growing up in New England. You’re sort of taught to, not keep secrets, but for me, I grew up keeping things funny. Then I actually will say it was my podcast — even in my comedy, I was never super personal in my standup. I host this very silly Bachelor podcast. I don’t know if you’re having this experience now. Both of my parents died in season. Both of them died on Saturdays. The Bachelor airs on Mondays. Then I record on Tuesday. I’ve always been fairly private about my personal life, but there was no way to hide that I wasn’t in the studio and that I was in my family den. I’m with my brother.

I allowed myself to cancel anything I wanted to cancel. I wanted to do that. I felt a real kinship with my listeners. We chose to do the podcasts. It was interesting. I was worried I was going to freak people out, that it was going to be too much, that people were going to be frightened by that information, that they’re like, lady, we just want our Bachelor news. We don’t want to hear that your dad died. Are you a psychopath? People were like, thank you so much for talking about what’s going on. It helps me. I have stuff going on. It helps me to see that you’re still moving forward. I was pretty honest about my path there. On the page, I feel like each time, the universe or the creative spirits or whatever I think are encouraging me to feel safer and safer exposing more just of my heart or the truth. It doesn’t have to be malicious, but that by telling your story it doesn’t have to just be the funny parts. That makes it a better story.

Zibby: I agree. You can still appreciate the funny parts. It’s like looking at a very pretty tree but you don’t see the roots or something. Once you can see the whole thing, then it’s even more majestic that it can rise. That sounds ridiculous. There’s something about seeing the whole thing, seeing what maybe other people can’t really see all the time. Then it makes it deeper. Then you enjoy the comedy more or something.

Arden: The people I appreciate sort of lay themselves out. The world is so bonkers, and even before 2020. Life is a journey. Just to know that everybody grew up with some stuff, everybody has stuff, even if it looks the best, everybody has a few cards in their hand that are complicated that was dealt to them. I feel like just the humanity and the connection — I have a very close friend who’s this wonderful playwright, Tom Diggs. He’s my classy friend. He was nominated for a Pulitzer. I kept calling him as I was writing this. He has two things he kept saying to me. I have written scripts and things. He kept saying to me, “Arden, each piece reveals to you how it wants to be written. It’s not the same strategy for each piece.” Then when I was debating — my dad was tough. He was entertaining if he wasn’t your dad. He was funny. He was beloved by friends and neighbors, but he was a tough dad. I was asking him, “I don’t want to throw somebody under the bus. I don’t want to throw somebody under the bus that’s not here.” He just kept encouraging me to be like, is it necessary? Check your motives. Why are you telling it? Is it your story? How much can you reveal, not to be Pollyanna, but like a lady? You’re letting people know sort of what’s going on without having to throw somebody under the bus. That was one of the things I’m proud of. My brother hasn’t read it yet, so we’ll see what he thinks.

Zibby: Oh, no.

Arden: I kept asking him if he wanted to read it. I said, “The part that might be hard –” He was tricky. My brother, he’s so sweet. He’s like, “Look, I know he was a tough dad.” It’s that balancing act of, here’s the real story. Here’s the story.

Zibby: You did include a nice, my brother’s a great guy and he turned out great. I feel like you said something like that towards the end.

Arden: It’s so funny about my brother too because I just love my brother. Did you grow up with boys?

Zibby: I have a brother, yeah.

Arden: To me, if you grow up with boys — we wrestled. We were both equally horrible to one another. We were both tiny. No one was in danger. We were both the runts of the liter. That’s sort of the fun of having a brother. Some of the people, I think, did not grow up with boys. I think they thought that I had this tough brother. I’m thinking, no, that’s just a brother. I have to say for any women out there who didn’t grow up with a brother, this is a very nice person. This is the eighties. In the eighties, you’re like little Peanuts characters just rolling around. That’s the deal.

Zibby: Totally. My brother used to hit me all the time. I remember telling this to my husband. My husband’s like, “He was three years younger than you. What are you talking about?” I’m like, “I don’t know. That’s just what happened all the time. We just fought.”

Arden: It’s kind of fun. Who else on earth can you fight with?

Zibby: Of course, now when my kids fight, I’m like, stop! What I was going to say about your dad is when you talked about how your mom wanted four kids and he didn’t want any kids and they compromised at two, but your dad was like, if you want to have kids, that’s your thing. Then you said, my mom, my brother, and I were like a threesome, and my dad was just there, which paints the whole picture. He just didn’t deal. It wasn’t even personal. Yet he was aware, and this is what happened, almost.

Arden: He would just be like, “I told your mother if she wanted to have kids, she had to deal with you.” You’re like, okay. When you’re little and that’s the house that you’re in — I don’t know if it’s also dads of that era. I didn’t really know a lot of my friends’ dads. I think mine was harsher about it. If you don’t grow up in a different house, you’re like, okay, that’s a dad. Thankfully, my mom, my brother, and I were such a team. We had so much fun. It literally felt like the three musketeers, and then there was a dude that lived in the den, which was fine. You just didn’t go into the den. I just hang out with my buddies. That was very openly the deal.

Zibby: Then you even say everybody gets dealt a different hand in life. Some people just aren’t meant to love or they just don’t know how to love that well. That part made me so sad. That just made me sad. That hurts.

Arden: That was what was interesting when my dad died. It’s an interesting thing. Look, I certainly didn’t think my book would be coming out in a global pandemic, but I actually feel like it is a good book for this time in that I do think it’s a fun, funny, lighthearted read. I do think there’s an honest — I feel like the world is collectively grieving, and it’s different. Everybody has different experiences. With him, I thought it would just be a relief because he’d been sick for so long. It was the grief of failure to launch. There was never that come to Jesus at the end where, I’m so sorry. It just didn’t happen. Just wanting to tell anybody out there, I just speak for myself, I am okay. It doesn’t mean that there’s not hurt in the heart for that. There’s other people in my life that love me. He just couldn’t do it. Even with what happened with my mom this year, I know a lot of people are walking through all sorts of things right now that no one could’ve imagined. The way it went with my mom, it was literally my worst nightmare and what I pictured. I got to tell you, there was a weird grace to last year even though my world was on fire. I would say there was certain gifts to it which I write about in the book too. I’m such a people-pleaser. I found that with both parents, one of the gifts of grief was I literally felt like I had no skin. The upshot of that was it was very clear to me who I wanted to be with, who I didn’t want to be with — I still knew I needed to have a little fun — what felt safe and fun and what was like, no freaking way. I couldn’t force myself to say yes when in the past, as such a people-pleaser, I would’ve made myself or gone, I should do this. I don’t want to hurt their feelings. It wasn’t that I was rude about it, but that one of the gifts of it is that I felt like it really separated the, what is it, the chaff from — I don’t know.

Zibby: The wheat from the chaff?

Arden: Yes. It just became clear. What can I eliminate? What makes my tail wag? What is joyful? What feels good? I really loved the grace of that. You’re very present. Time takes on a different quality, which I think is happening globally right now anyway. I just have to really slow down and listen to next indicated action. What do I need? I’m such a doer. I get things done. How about half speed? How about just lowering the bar? How about your best is good enough? It may not be perfect. Done is better than great. Maybe you’re going to be late to your little gym class. Maybe you didn’t send that email, but okay. You’re doing the best that you can. There was some magic to that that I wouldn’t wish on somebody, but that if god forbid your world gets set on fire, you’ll be okay one day. This too shall pass. It won’t always feel like this.

Zibby: I feel like you’ve just been dropped down to talk to me directly. I’m pretending like nobody else is even listening to this conversation, so thank you. Your book and grief island and all the stuff you went through, it helps to hear someone else’s story. I’m sorry you had to go through it all. I’m really truly a hundred percent from the bottom of my heart sorry. Being able to share it and tell it and experience your own version of something you couldn’t have imagined, it just somehow helps everyone else.

Arden: It’s so strange. Again, this book was supposed to be a fun —

Zibby: — Not to say it’s not funny.

Arden: It is very funny.

Zibby: It’s super funny. I’m sorry.

Arden: If you don’t want to get to the sad part, stop after I go to England.

Zibby: Literally, most of it is hilarious and funny and whatever.

Arden: Eighty-five percent. Most of it, it is the fun beach read. Just stop after chapter eighteen. Just skip the last two chapters. There’s even hope in that. I will say, growing up in this very WASP-y New England family that doesn’t talk about emotions and doesn’t talk about feelings, I really felt for whatever reason, the timing of the sale of this book, that this would’ve never been my path in life, but somehow normalizing grief. Nobody talks about it. It’s okay to feel sad. You don’t have to feel not sad right away. I can’t handle the, “She’s in a better place.” That one was the one, I was like, I can’t do that. I can’t do the better place one right now. For me, each one took about a year. It was like, oh, boy, here we go. My friend likened it to getting strapped — you go to Six Flags and when you go on one of those rollercoasters that the things come down and lock you in, it’s like, I didn’t sign up for this ride, but it’s taking me. I have some tips in the book of how to survive your own grief island and maybe even have some joy in it because there was some grace.

For me, the key was being around people where I could be not okay. That actually made me feel more okay. Debbie Ryan, who wrote my forward, the delightful star of Insatiable with me and the star of Jessie, who would’ve ever thought that this wonderful twenty-five-year-old Disney star would be the person that — . She just showed up. We were in Atlanta filming. She wasn’t afraid of it. We would go roller-skating. We’d go out for tacos. We’d go to the roller derby. We’d go do karaoke. It was okay if I was a little bit out of it. I didn’t have to be on point. For so much of my life, I think particularly growing up in kind of a quirky household, trying to look normal or trying to fit in like everybody else, there’s such a grace of just being with people who are like, come as you are, girl. Put on your sweatpants, but here’s some glitter roller-skates. We know you’re not great, but come on. We’re not scared of you in sweatpants. Come on. We love you anyway. Come on, honey.

Zibby: It’s so true. The people who end up coming through in times of loss, not coming through, but the people that you feel the most connected to are never, not never, but are rarely the ones you expect. It could be total strangers.

Arden: Sometimes the ones you expect can’t handle it. You don’t know. Honestly, it was all of the kids on Insatiable. It was the entire teen cast. There was a boy on the show that was this teen heartthrob who is absolutely adorable, Michael Provost. By the way, ninety percent of this book is not this. Don’t be afraid. This boy, Michael Provost, one day he showed up at my Airbnb. He texted me. He was like, “What are you doing today?” I was like, “I’m supposed to be writing my book.” I’d say no to all these fun things. He showed up at my doorstep. This sweet teen dream had made me a lasagna. He goes, “Look, I didn’t know what to say to you. I thought about it. I remember when somebody in my town would pass, my mom would make them a lasagna, so I went on YouTube last night and I learned how. I baked you a lasagna.” He borrowed his mother’s baking pan, and he made me a lasagna. He showed up. He was twenty-one years old, eight million Instagram followers. He could’ve gone to a bar legally. He’s super popular. This young man went inside and baked his grieving adult lady costar a lasagna and brought it over. People can be — there’s so much goodness. You don’t know who.

Zibby: Yes, that’s the best part of the whole thing, is seeing all the good and all the connection and all that behind the scenes, so to speak. It could be Behind the Music of — .

Arden: The Behind the Music of teen dramas on Netflix. True story.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, Arden, I feel like I could talk to you all day. I feel like we’re just scraping the surface. I had so many quotes and all the rest from your book. Anyway, I loved talking to you. I love that you gave so much advice along the way of people, what they should do when they’re writing a book and all of the rest and your journey and loss and humor and how it all combines. It was just a true pleasure to chat with you.

Arden: Thank you so much. Can I have a little giveaway for your listeners?

Zibby: Yes, oh, my gosh!

Arden: Premiere Collectibles does a thing with authors. For the first 250 people, you can get a signed book and a little Little Miss Little Compton tote bag for the cost of the book if you go to, A-R-D-E-N-M-Y-R-I-N, For the first 250, you get the tote and the signed book. Then the second 250, it’s just the signed book. Get them while they last.

Zibby: I’m releasing this when your book comes out, so I’m worried that maybe they’ll be gone by then.

Arden: Then go to your local bookstore and support an independent bookstore.

Zibby: Or maybe they’ll still get it. We’ll try.

Arden: We’ll try.

Zibby: Thank you so much.

Arden: Zibby, you are a delight. You’re so much service to so many authors and so many people. I was so excited to come on your podcast. I hope to meet you in person one day.

Zibby: I hope to meet you in person one day soon.

Arden: Hang in there.

Zibby: You too. Buh-bye.

Arden: Bye.