Doree Shafrir & Kate Spencer, THANKS FOR WAITING and A NEW YORK MINUTE

Doree Shafrir & Kate Spencer, THANKS FOR WAITING and A NEW YORK MINUTE

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria “V.E.” Schwab joins Zibby to discuss her most recent two novels, Gallant and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. The two talk about why Victoria writes under the moniker V.E., what her traumatic response to creativity looks like, and which of her projects have been optioned to be adapted. They also connect over the ups and downs that come with being an artist, as well as why Victoria finds the fantasy genre so fascinating (despite being a voracious memoir reader).


Zibby Owens: Today, we have two amazing women here talking about two different books, but they’re podcast cohosts, so this makes sense, I guess. The first guest is Doree Shafrir. Did I pronounce it right?

Doree Shafrir: Hi. I’m Doree. So happy to be here.

Zibby: Doree’s book is Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer. We have so much to discuss. Then Kate Spencer, In a New York Minute.

Kate Spencer: Hello. This is my voice. Thank you so much for having us.

Zibby: It’s my pleasure. They are the cohosts of ” Forever35,” which I wish I still were.

Kate: Whatever age you are, we like. That’s kind of where we’ve landed as people who keep aging beyond the age of thirty-five the longer we do this podcast.

Zibby: That’s so funny. You were talking on your podcast about how a new serum that you had tried made your skin brighter. You’re like, what did that even mean? Now you know what it’s like to have bright skin. You’re like, don’t even talk to me about bright skin when you’re twenty-two.

Kate: No.

Doree: That’s the thing. All these “How I get my skin to be so great,” it’s always a twenty-five-year-old with just beautiful, dewy skin. I’m like, you know, how about a forty-four-year-old mom who is overtired? You get it.

Zibby: Moms don’t have time for skin care, basically.

Kate: No, they don’t.

Zibby: My daughter, this morning — my older daughter. I have four kids. My older daughter who’s almost fifteen, she came down this morning. She’s like, “I did my whole skin-care routine this morning. I did all of it.” She felt like she had just gone to a spa. I’m like, even if I did my whole skin care routine, it would take two minutes. That’s the long version.

Kate: I do a lot of half of my routine. Then I get distracted by having to do school drop-off. I never quite know what’s on my face at any given time/if I’ve brushed my teeth. I think today, I have not yet.

Zibby: We were talking about the glory of doing podcast ads. This one sponsor, I will tell you — I’m not trying to sell it, so I won’t even say a name. The mascara is so great that I can go out the door without having to put it on the next day.

Kate: Who is it?

Zibby: It’s called Thrive Causemetics, C-A-U-S-E.

Doree: Oh, yeah.

Kate: Yes, we’ve worked with them.

Doree: A mutual sponsor.

Kate: Their mascara is fantastic.

Zibby: It lasts for days. Now I’m like, well, if I just wash underneath…

Kate: Just give it a week. Leave it on for a week. See what happens.

Zibby: I would. I really would. Doree, let’s talk about your book first. We have so much in common. I was reading your book, and I was like, oh, my gosh, I need to sit and have coffee with her and talk about all this stuff. I’ve dogeared a hundred different pages of your story. Why don’t you give a little synopsis of Thanks for Waiting?

Doree: My book is about being a late bloomer and struggling with a lot of questions of, are these “milestones” that we’re supposed to be hitting in our lives, are these things that we genuinely want, or are these things that we feel like we should want because of societal, cultural pressures? The book is about me navigating that mostly in my thirties, into my forties — I’m now forty-four — and also, along the way, meeting my husband on Tinder, struggling with infertility, quitting my job, and deciding to become a full-time podcaster at forty. It’s kind of cliché to be like, it’s never too late. I think the message is that we are continually evolving into the people that we want to be. That evolution doesn’t stop. That’s a beautiful thing.

Zibby: It’s so true. I think your French kiss on the basketball court really sealed the deal for me.

Doree: To be fair, that was the summer before eighth grade, so not something that happened recently.

Zibby: Oh, yeah, sorry. I didn’t mean that. She’s not French kissing anybody — well, you might be, but not thirteen-year-old boys.

Doree: That brings up another theme that runs throughout the book of feeling like I was always kind of out of step with my peers. Now that I can look back on things, I don’t know that I actually was, but I placed so much pressure on myself to be doing things at exactly the same time as everyone else. I know it’s something a lot of people feel because I’ve heard from a lot of people about this.

Zibby: Did you ever read the children’s book, Leo the Late Bloomer?

Doree: No.

Zibby: No? Oh, my gosh.

Doree: No. Oh, my god, what is it?

Zibby: It’s so good. I would go run and grab it, but I’ll never be able to find it. It’s about a boy. He’s the only child. He’s a lion. No, he’s a tiger. I don’t know. He’s a tiger. All the other animals are doing things faster. They all walk before him. They can even write in a straight line. His writing is all — you can’t even read it. His dad keeps saying, it’s okay. You’re a late bloomer. Then at the end, he’s like, I made it. It’s so exciting.

Doree: Leo gets it.

Zibby: It really only matters that everybody gets there at some point. The timelines are so artificial anyway. I’m interested in your book, too, because even though it was framed this way, I feel like you could’ve had a different frame and told the same story, almost. Your life story is just the really interesting, meaty part. Yes, I know you felt like you were a little delayed, but it easily could’ve been like your novel, Startup Nation. It could’ve been an advice, career thing. You could’ve spun it that way and done it differently, or a journal.

Doree: That’s so interesting.

Zibby: I feel like the meat of the story had a lot of different applications and could’ve proved a lot of points because it’s a really unique journey. You had a lot to say about it.

Doree: Thank you. I never really thought about it, but I guess that is true. My professional journey was kind of meandering. I did find myself in these, especially New York media, these spots where, in retrospect, it was a very meaningful time for various reasons. I worked at Gawker at the height of when Gawker was powerful or however you want to put it. I worked at The New York Observer and Rolling Stone. At the time, I don’t think I fully appreciated it. Now I’m like, oh, those were moments that don’t exist anymore. That is a world that ten, fifteen years later just doesn’t exist. To be able to look back and be like, I was a part of that, is kind of exciting.

Zibby: That’s awesome. It was funny to go from your book to Kate’s book, which opens right at one of the scenes, essentially, from your book where you’re being laid off. It’s slightly different. I was like, oh, this is exactly what happened to her.

Doree: Totally. I feel like if you worked in media in New York or if you worked in New York, probably, period, you’ve gotten laid off at some point. I love the opening scene of Kate’s book.

Zibby: I spent a morning at The New York Observer once when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had actually kind of forgotten about it until this part of your book. I literally went and sat at a team meeting for the day. Everyone was like, this just happened. Who wants to go down to town hall, or whatever it’s called, the mayor’s office? Someone’s like, I’m going to go. I was like, oh, no, I don’t want people telling me where I’m going to go all day long. This is not for me.

Doree: I was never really a newspaper beat reporter. I was never the person who they were like, go down to police headquarters and find out what happened. That’s a really hard job to have to do that. I always had so much admiration for people who did that job.

Zibby: Kate, your book just came out. Congratulations.

Kate: Thank you.

Zibby: Tell listeners about your book and what it’s about and all of that.

Kate: In a New York Minute, it’s my first novel. It is a romantic comedy set in New York City. It starts in an incredibly unromantic way in which our main character, Franny, has just been laid off, similar to Doree’s experience. She’s rushing to get back on the subway. Her hands are full. She makes it on a packed train at morning rush hour. Just when the train takes off out of the station, she realizes that her dress is not only stuck in the closed subway doors, but it has ripped down her back. There’s, of course, a moment of wardrobe malfunction panic. Then a very handsome stranger steps in to help her. They have what looks like a very adorable meet-cute that is documented by people around them and put up on social media. In reality, their interaction was very awkward. They do not hit it off. They leave thinking they have nothing in common. Then they meet again and have another very awkward interaction. Of course, thanks to the magic of New York City, my former hometown, they’re brought back together again and again. By the end, they do realize that they actually have a lot more in common than they initially thought.

Zibby: PS, she’s wearing a thong, right?

Kate: I think she’s in her last — it’s either her embarrassing period underwear or the thong that she never wears, but she hasn’t done laundry. She hasn’t done laundry. Now it has come back to haunt her in this moment on the subway.

Zibby: Worst nightmare.

Kate: That part of not doing laundry, definitely based on my own life. I have not had a wardrobe malfunction like that, but we’ve all had moments.

Zibby: We’ve all had moments. I remember once in high school I walked from the 86th Street crosstown bus. I must have walked five blocks before I realized my skirt had been tucked up in my backpack. I’m still mortified. Look at this, I’m forty-five years old. Can’t get over it.

Kate: No. I once went to apply for a hostessing job when I was eighteen at a restaurant in Burlington, Vermont, wearing a white skirt. They told me they weren’t hiring. Then the woman was like, “Just so you know, I can see your underwear through your skirt.” It was so humiliating. I’ve never forgotten it.

Zibby: Kate, I didn’t have time to go back and read your memoir also, The Dead Moms Club. Tell me about that. What happened to your mom?

Kate: My mom died when I was twenty-seven. She was fifty-five and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She died nine months later. It was a real shock to my system. I had lived a very privileged, blessed life in which I had just assumed my parents would live until they were ninety-five and then die in their sleep. It was a real shock. When I came out of that experience looking for community or books that captured what I was feeling as a young adult who’s just lost a parent, I really didn’t find much. I was the first of my friends to lose a parent. There wasn’t a large grief community yet. That has really blossomed thanks to social media, which has been amazing. I really wanted to write a book not just about my experience in the aftermath of grief, but a book that could also help people or feel like a friend or someone who had been there. Obviously, grief is such an individual experience. My experience losing my mom is different from the next person. I do think there are some universal feelings or moments or experiences that come with grieving that we can all connect to. That is what I hope to capture. It’s been — amazing is the wrong word. It’s so moving because I hear from people almost daily who have just lost, mostly it’s their moms, but other people they love and have somehow found my book. They feel connected in that way. That has been and continues to be really gratifying.

Zibby: My husband’s mom passed away from COVID two years ago. Is this a good book for someone who’s recently lost a mom? Is this good or this is more like, you want to reflect back later?

Kate: It’s so interesting. I get asked this question often. Should I give this —

Zibby: — Sorry.

Kate: No, no. I think it’s a really good question because it’s hard to know. Should I give this to my friend whose mom just died? I’m like, gosh, I don’t know. I want to say yes, obviously, because I love my book, but what if they read it and it’s too much for them? Yes, I think it’s helpful just to have — books are such a support system, any book. For me, I read a lot of romance when I was grieving. That was my support system. I think it’s nice just to have a book there, whether or not the person ends up touching it. You never know. One day, they might just turn to their bookshelf and see the title and be like, oh, that’s what I need today. I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes. I think it would totally be appropriate. I would be honored to share it with him. What I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that no matter how old you are, losing someone is such a painful experience no matter if you’ve had them in your lives for ninety years or fifty. My mom was only fifty-six. It always hurts deeply.

Zibby: I’m so sorry for your loss.

Kate: I’m looking forward to your memoir. I’m excited to read it.

Zibby: Thank you.

Kate: I know you’ve written about grief too. I think your work has the same impact.

Zibby: I need more ARCs. I want to send it to every single person who comes on my podcast.

Kate: It’s so hard, right?

Zibby: Maybe I’ll just start emailing PDFs around or something. Don’t forward this. You need to read this right now. Then talk about how the two of you started your podcast and how it’s blown up and become this whole successful, full-time thing. Talk about that.

Doree: We need to start by saying that we met on the internet. We met on Tumblr in 2008.

Kate: A true modern love story.

Doree: We followed each other on Tumblr and became friendly on the internet. We didn’t meet IRL until we both lived in LA. I moved there in 2013. Kate had moved a couple years earlier. Then fast-forward a few years. Kate texted me. “Do you want to start a podcast about skin care?” It wasn’t like this came out of nowhere. We had definitely been having these conversations with each other, whether it was over text or on Facebook or wherever. There weren’t people talking about skin care in the way that we wanted to hear those conversations. Like I was mentioning earlier, a lot of these conversations were being had by people who were very young, or at least much younger than we were, who had different lifestyles, different skin-care needs. We thought, where are the people talking to us? That was the impetus for it. It also emerged out of a very particular political moment when Trump had been president, at that point, for almost a year. I think a lot of people were feeling a sort of despair. People who had never been interested in beauty were suddenly turning to skin care as this sort of salvation, this mode of self-care that felt like a refuge in the face of so much turmoil. We wanted to capture a little bit of that and then just evolve. Now it’s evolved into more self-care broadly defined. Kate, what else?

Kate: I think you summed it up perfectly. What we quickly learned within the first few months of doing the podcast is that self-care is such an umbrella term and can mean so many different things, and different things to different people based on their life experiences. It’s just been an incredible learning experience. We’ve spoken to so many interesting people to really get to deepen our understanding of what it means to practice self-care/get a lot of really great skin-care and beauty recommendations, which is always so fun. We’ll be talking to someone about a very serious topic. Then we’ll, at the end, switch gears and be like, by the way, what is your morning skin-care routine? We need to know. We contain multitudes. Both Doree and I, we don’t believe that things like skin care or taking baths are frivolous. They can really help at a crucial time in one’s life. We also have really come to understand things like community support, mental health support, financial stability, these things are also a huge part of what it means to take care of ourselves.

Zibby: I love that. Do you both live in LA now?

Kate: We do. We’re both from Boston, lived in New York City, and now live in LA. We’ve been kind of following each other across the country but only met as adults, which is another really lovely thing to get to explore, what it means to have a friendship that you make as an adult. I know a lot of my close friends I met by the time I was eighteen. That’s been a really rewarding part of our partnership as friends and podcast hosts.

Zibby: Actually, I’ll be in LA for these two events for my Princess Charming on May 15th/16th, that weekend, if you want to come out. One’s on Friday at the Village Well in Culver City. Then one’s that Sunday — I don’t even know what the date is — at Pages in Manhattan Beach. I don’t know what part of town you guys live in.

Kate: Everything is far away from you in LA. You never live close to anything. One will be doable, for sure.

Zibby: Awesome. On the book side, what is coming? Are you guys working on, independently, new books? Are you going to do a book together? What’s the plan?

Kate: I am working on my next fiction book, which is also in the romance genre. That is my favorite genre to write in and to read. That should come out sometime next year. The manuscript is with my editor at the moment.

Zibby: Congratulations.

Kate: Thank you.

Zibby: Does it have a title yet?

Kate: It doesn’t have a title. That is a hot topic on an email chain. It is a second-chance romance set at a sleepaway camp in New Hampshire between two adults who met as kids and are reunited again as grown-ups.

Zibby: Aw. My grandparents met as counselors at a summer camp.

Kate: Summer-camp love stories are my absolute favorites, so I’m channeling all that energy into this book.

Zibby: I love it. That’ll be a great summer read. What about you, Doree?

Doree: I wrote a novel that came out in 2017 called Startup. Writing a memoir — I don’t know if you found this as well, Zibby, but I found writing a memoir to be extremely draining and overwhelmingly. I am planning on returning to fiction.

Zibby: Awesome. I didn’t find it draining because I at least knew what I had to write about. I feel like fiction can be a little overwhelming. You could write about literally anything not even in the universe.

Doree: That is true. I think it was just that I was revisiting — when I decided to write the memoir, I hadn’t quite realized that I would be going over some very painful episodes of my life. I would have to be going over them many, many, many times as I wrote and rewrote and edited. That was just a little like, oh, okay, we’re going through this again. I have some ideas floating around. Hopefully, we’ll figure that out in the next few months.

Zibby: Awesome. I love it. It’s so cool. Any advice for aspiring authors from the two of you?

Doree: My advice is based on something that we hear a lot from podcast listeners, which is, I don’t want to do X thing because it’s already been done. I think that is the biggest thing to just get over and try to move past. If you start thinking that way, you’ll never write anything because you’ll feel like every story has been told. That’s just not true. Your story has not been told. That’s what I try to tell people who feel this way. I have definitely felt that way. I’m not immune to these feelings either.

Kate: For me, one of my own personal learning experiences now having published a couple of books and having another one on the way is how true Anne Lamott’s chapter in Bird by Bird, Shitty First Drafts, is. I go back to that book and to that specific chapter so often in my life because I think we expect the things that we write to be perfect and polished on the page instantly. I think that’s probably because we’re reading books that have gone through incredible revision processes, but we don’t see that. We just see the finished process. There’s a lot of this internal pressure for the things that we are writing to be “good” instantly. I truly think, like anything, you have to really build a piece of work. It’s got to start in the bare bones, basic — it can feel so bad. It could be terrible, but you cannot revise or make something better unless you have words on the page. That is a painful thing I have to learn every time I sit down to write. This is an ongoing journey. I think it is for most writers. A lot of times, we let that stop ourselves from doing the work. We’re like, this is so bad. Good lord. Truly, that is how every great thing starts.

Zibby: I love it. Very cool. Do you have an exciting guest or two or favorite episode to plug for “Forever35”?

Kate: Oh, my gosh. Sometimes I look back. I scroll through all our guests. I cannot believe how lucky we are to have talked to all of these people. We did interview Madeleine Albright, which I think was a personal highlight for both of us. Having her recently pass just reignited my love for that interview. I was nervously quaking and almost in tears sitting in my closet trying to record it in the pandemic. Elizabeth Gilbert’s episode is really wonderful. Another one that I know Doree and I both love is, we talked to Samantha Irby, who’s also a writer. She’s just so funny and brilliant and also came in with some great product recommendations. Doree, do you have any others? It’s endless. We’re so lucky.

Doree: Those were definitely some highlights that I remember. We get to talk to so many great authors. I was thinking about Dani Shapiro’s interview the other day. I really do feel #blessed that we’ve gotten to talk to all these people.

Kate: Same way.

Zibby: Amazing. Love it. Great. I’m happy to come on your podcast if you ever want another guest.

Doree: Yeah, let’s do it.

Kate: It would be amazing.

Zibby: scraping the bottom of the barrel or anything.

Kate: We’ve got to hear about your two-minute skin-care routine/your mascara recommendations. There’s a lot to talk to you about. Don’t worry. We’ll keep you for two hours and really pick your brain.

Zibby: I know, your episodes are long. I’m impressed.

Kate: They are. We could gab. Doree and I could just chat all day. We’ve been doing this for four years. We sometimes are just yammering, as we say.

Zibby: I love it. It’s great. It’s awesome. It was so great to meet both of you and to spend time with both of your books and get to know you and all the rest. I’m sorry I didn’t get to your first memoir or your first novel.

Kate: Please.

Doree: This was so fun, Zibby. Thank you so much for having us on.

Kate: Thank you so much.

Zibby: I really hope to meet you, even not at an event, but just sometime in LA. I would love it. I’m out there a lot.

Kate: Likewise. That’d be great.

Doree: Let us know.

Kate: Yeah, please do.

Zibby: Take care.

Doree: Bye.

Kate: Thank you so much.

Zibby: Thank you. Buh-bye.


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A NEW YORK MINUTE by Kate Spencer

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