Mallory Kasdan, ELLA

Mallory Kasdan, ELLA

Zibby Owens: I’m here today with Mallory Kasdan who’s the author of Ella, a hilarious, smart children’s book published by Viking Children’s Books. Ella made Entertainment Weekly’s Top Ten Must List and was featured in Time, Vogue, The LA Times, and The New York Post. Mallory is the host and producer of “MILK Podcast: Moms I’d Like to Know.” She also hosts the podcast “How to Raise a Parent” from Slate Studios and Dairy Pure, and “Coffee and Crayons” from Slate Studios and Target. She’s a professional voice-over actor for TV and radio. Mallory has contributed to The Washington Post and has produced arts and culture pieces for public radio. Kveller called the MILK Podcast one of the eleven parenting podcasts you need in your life. My podcast was on that list too. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Welcome, Mallory. Thanks for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Mallory Kasdan: Thank you for having me.

Zibby: It’s my pleasure. This is so fun. At first, I only knew you because of your amazing podcast, “MILK: Mothers I’d Like to Know.” Now you have this children’s book that I somehow didn’t know about that came out five years ago. Thank god you sent it to me because now my daughter is obsessed, as you saw up the stairs. It’s so great. I want to talk to you about all of it, so I’m excited. Tell me about Ella, this book. What’s it about? What inspired you to write a children’s book?

Mallory: Ella is a parody of Eloise at the Plaza. I had a six-year-old. This was a few years ago. My daughter was six at the time. We were big fans of Eloise. I grew up loving it and thinking, what an amazing life to live in New York City and live in a hotel and have that adventure. Then it was my fortieth birthday. I went to a hotel in Williamsburg that had just opened with my husband. We had a party for me. It was really nice. We left the kids at home. Zoe was six at the time. Miles was like two. We were just so psyched to be getting out, having a party, being in a hotel. It was very Brooklyn. It was Brooklyn, I think it was 2012. It was very hip. There was no sign. It was super groovy. Everything was reclaimed wood and brick. It was an old factory that they made into a hotel. It’s the Wythe, in case you’re wondering. I was just picturing Zoe there and seeing her scootering all around the lobby and going, oh, my god, this is so, first of all, not really a place for kids. I was really glad that she wasn’t there, but thinking how funny it would be if she was there mucking up this hipster haven.

Then I had a little lightbulb. I was like, oh, this is totally where Eloise would live. She wouldn’t live in Manhattan anymore. This was the moment of Brooklyn is the new Manhattan. It was getting to that fever pitch of Brooklyn as a verb. As a noun? It was Brooklyn as a concept as opposed to a place to live. I figured, oh, yeah. Then it just started going off in my head, all these ideas. I knew she’d have a manny instead of a nanny. I knew she’d have a mom who was — Eloise’s mom is quite absent, probably not in the best way and the most healthy way. I figured Ella’s mom would be a director or an actress/director and sort of just be parenting from Europe or parenting from the set. It just all came together like that. I went home and I basically wrote it. I sent it to a friend of mine who has been sort of a guardian angel in my career. I was like, “Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is a good idea?” She was like, “This is great. I want you to send it to this woman, a friend of mine who’s an agent. I love it.” I was like, “Okay. I thought it was a good idea.” It turned out to be a pretty good idea. It was just one of those good ideas.

Zibby: It’s not just a good idea. It was also executed very well.

Mallory: Thank you.

Zibby: A lot of people have the ideas and then they don’t go home and actually write it. They’re like, wouldn’t this be cool? Yesterday, I had like three different ideas, but I’m not going to do anything with any of them. Do you know what I mean?

Mallory: Well, right. Similarly, I’ve had a bunch of ideas since.

Zibby: Not to say they were that good. I’m just saying they were ideas, period.

Mallory: This one happened to be, it was an easy opportunity for me to pay homage to something I really loved as a kid, think about my own daughter as that age, and then also kind of make fun of Brooklyn a lot and the preciousness of what was happening there at that time and place, like, oh, come on, everybody, this is ridiculous. Yet that’s my life. That’s my parenting life. I live in a community not dissimilar to Williamsburg. A lot of those things were very funny because they’re true. That was the goal, mocking it in a way that other people could relate to, or people couldn’t relate to at all because they don’t live in New York. They’re like, who the hell lives in a hotel? Who the hell lives in an apartment? How do you guys live stacked on top of each other? I was hoping that people could see it the way that I saw Eloise.

Zibby: Did people really say that? Did you hear that feedback? That’s such a shame if that’s true.

Mallory: No, but what’s interesting is they didn’t want to label it Brooklyn. The publisher didn’t want to make it New York. They wanted it to be a little bit more vague as a city. It could be a hotel in many cities. It could be San Francisco. It could be Portland. It could be Seattle. It could be Miami. It could be Copenhagen. Did I say that wrong? Hay-gen? Ha-gen? It could be Barcelona. I think that they were trying to make it less specific. I knew it was New York. My illustrator knew it was New York. That’s why I love it. It is, it’s my New York. I love it.

Zibby: How did you team up with your illustrator?

Mallory: This was so cool. It’s my first book. You don’t have a ton of pull, I should say. When you are a writer and not a writer/illustrator, you don’t really have a lot of choice in who your illustrator is unless there’s something that you’re attached to, like you’re famous or you have some other kind of connections to other illustrators. I had some kind of thing in my contract that was like I get approval or something like that. I didn’t really have any say. I suggested a bunch of illustrators that I loved including Maira Kalman, which was ridiculous because that’s not happening. Again, big dream.

Zibby: Good for you. Why not?

Mallory: She’s the best person that I know who is an illustrator. I admire her. Then I was on the subway and I saw this — you know those MTA illustrators and they have those murals on the train? I saw one. It was this artist, Marcos Chin. I was like, that’s so beautiful. It was a bunch of people walking in Grand Central. They were traipsing through Grand Central. They had shopping bags. It was a little bit surrealist. Their hats were also corners of the cornices on the ceiling. It was this really beautiful portrayal of Grand Central Station and people walking through it and just being so New York and fabulous. They were moving. They were fashionable. I wrote it down. I was like, that is beautiful. Then they picked him. It was amazing. I couldn’t have been happier.

Zibby: That’s great.

Mallory: It really was awesome. He was perfect for the job. He is a lovely person. We really weren’t supposed to talk. They don’t want you to interface. They want him to have his own perspective on the character and for him to come up with what the character looks like and feels like and all the other components, but we did talk. We immediately hit it off. I gave him a couple of thoughts, one of which is my daughter has a giant rainbow in her room painted on the wall. That was a dream of mine when I was a kid, so I did that for my daughter. That went into the book.

Zibby: That was the part of the book that both my son and my daughter, the five and six-year-old, were pointing to and being like, “Can we have that?” I’m like, “No, you can’t have that.”

Mallory: We’re not doing that.

Zibby: They loved that. I was actually going to mention that detail.

Mallory: That was something that made it into the book from my life. Then obviously because I wrote the book, a lot of it reflected behaviors and things at the time that my daughter would say or do. A lot of them made it in, which was fun. Then he got to reconfigure anything he wanted to do. He made the protagonist a little girl of color, which was completely his creation, which was awesome. That was really cool. That’s when it’s really interesting to see how an illustrator plays into bringing a world alive. I was so jealous. I was like, I wish I could draw.

Zibby: I wish I could draw too. It would be so neat. It’s a skill I would like to have.

Mallory: Same, especially with kids’ books because sometimes, especially with picture books, you need to be able to see a feeling. You can’t write it always. I really respect that skill that I saw in Marcos. He’s lovely. Hi Marcos, if you’re listening.

Zibby: Let’s talk about your podcast a little bit too and how this all fits in with your career.

Mallory: Morphed, right.

Zibby: Why don’t we just go through the brief trajectory? What happened after — let’s do a breeze through of since college, say.

Mallory: I came to New York because, of course, I always wanted to live here.

Zibby: Where are you from?

Mallory: I’m from Pittsburgh, PA, so small city, sort of suburban but also city.

Zibby: I’ve heard of Pittsburgh.

Mallory: Yeah, you’ve heard of it. It’s cool. Pittsburgh is having, actually, a comeback now. It was a really lovely place to grow up. Then I went to college in Vermont. I was really ready to come to New York after that, even though that was beautiful and I loved it. It was great. It was like, let’s get in there. I was interested in media. I was interested in publishing. I was interested in TV. I wanted to work for David Letterman. That was all I wanted to do. It was the only job I could envision, was being a page or being an intern to Letterman, but I didn’t get that job. I came to New York. I got a job in publishing. I worked for Hyperion. That was my first job. I was a publicity assistant. Then I went to Viking Penguin. I was a publicist. Then I decided I loved books way too much to keep working in publishing, truthfully. I left publishing. Sort of at the same time, I was discovering an interest in doing voice-overs, partially because at Penguin they had me doing publicity for Penguin audiobooks. This was when audiobooks were all on tapes. I’m dating myself. They were on tapes. They were on CDs. People loved narrators or hated them. We would get letters from all these people that would say, “I can’t believe that Stephen King’s books are now being read by so-and-so.” I’m just using that as an example because I can’t remember exactly who the actors were that people loved so much, the narrators. I thought, this is so cool, the idea of narration. I started doing it a little bit.

The New York Public Library has a division for the blind downtown on 20th Street. I started honing that a little bit. Then I was looking around to figure out if I could make a jump to start doing voice-over. I made a demo tape. I took a class. I pretty quickly got an agent and started working. It was weird. It was a weird, niche thing. I had a lot of success pretty quickly. It’s not like that all the time. For me, I think it was the right focus because it was narrow and so weird and random. It wasn’t like, I want to be actor. It was like, I want to be a voice actor. It just happened for me. I don’t know. I had the right combination of luck and I guess talent. I was pushy. I was like, this is what I want to do. I left publishing, started doing voice-overs. You freelance, but you’re kind of being an actor. That was the late nineties. I was busy. I had auditions every day. I was booking. I was working. I was running around the city. It was really fun. I worked for a friend of mine, she became my friend, a PR person. I was a freelance publicist for her. She had an office in SoHo. It was so fun. That was the best. Late nineties, there was money everywhere. The internet was starting. Every company was paying people to advertise and hire publicists, and internet parties. It was just a great time, pre-9/11, pre-kids. I just was having a great old time.

What happened after that? I was doing that. I signed with an agent in 1998, started working, got my SAG card. Then I was just doing that. I was a voice actor. In the meantime, one of the things I loved about publishing was I loved taking authors to public radio. I loved going to, at the time it was WNYC. They were down on Center Street. You’d go to Leonard Lopate. It was awesome. The greenroom was always so interesting. Lou Reed would be there. It was just the most awesome people being interviewed for a couple of different public radio shows. I always loved that piece of publishing. I loved the author interview part. That was just kind of a side thing I always loved. I started trying to get into radio and making pieces. This was around the time This American Life was starting. It was all about the audio documentary and all that kind of stuff. I was making stuff. I went to a couple conferences. I started making pieces and pitching them to — I’m just going on and on. If you want to cut me off ever, just do it. I’m sorry because this is going to be hard to edit.

Zibby: I love it. I’m really interested in this.

Mallory: Okay, good. I went to this Third Coast conference which is in Chicago. It was more of an audio documentary conference. Now it’s probably more of a podcast conference, but this was pre-podcast. That was 2001, 2002, around that. I loved all of the earnestness of StoryCorps and using the voice and using storytelling as an art to convey a feeling, just always loved it. I made eight to ten pieces. I was working steadily pitching them to Studio 360, which is an arts and culture shows that’s ending soon, but it was a big show, and to NPR News. I did a few pieces for them. I knew interesting artists. I was like, this person is really fascinating and I’m going to do a piece about them. There was always the arts and culture component of my interest. That was where my interest lied — laid? Lie? It was such a great thing. That time was so great. I was doing public radio pieces, earning money from doing voice-overs. It was great. It was a great moment also.

Then I had kids, not that that wasn’t a great thing. I kept doing the voice-over work pretty consistently right after Zoe was born. That was awesome because I could get out of the house. Sometimes I could bring her. Sometimes I could leave her with a sitter. I had earning power, but I wasn’t dying. I didn’t have to deal with a lot of things that people, women have to deal with when they go back to work after they have kids. It was a relatively smooth transition because I had the ability to stay in that game. Unfortunately, a lot of the other creative stuff kind of went downhill from there. I couldn’t maintain the brain power to continue to pitch ideas or to write, really. I had always written blog pieces and that kind of stuff for myself. The idea of even that was just too much. It was do voice-over work and be with my kid and be a mom. That was totally enough for me. It was great. Then I had my second kid. Then everything went a little bit haywire because that’s hard, the second one.

At that time, that was when I thought I really need to get back to the creative work even though I was so exhausted. He was a terrible sleeper. It was really tough. I knew that I was feeling that pull back to writing and creating something beyond just doing the ads, which by the way were great. I never wanted them to stop, but it’s not mine. I work for other people and I get paid. That’s awesome, but that’s when I started to feel like I wanted to get back to doing something. I think that’s when the seed of the podcast — sorry to take such a long, winding road to get there, but that’s when the podcast kind of started. It was a lot of women I had met doing voice-overs because there’s so many interesting people who are musicians or actors or who are other kinds of artists who I met who were all struggling with this concept of, how do you keep creating? How do you keep being available? How do you juggle? the same conversations everyone’s having in every field. This was just a lot of creative people. I decided I really wanted to talk to those people. I came up with the idea of MILK because I was reading Goon Squad. What’s the title of that book? Jennifer Egan.

Zibby: A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Mallory: A Visit from the Goon Squad, such a great book. I read it. I saw her speak at the 92nd Street Y. I was like, oh, that’s a mom I’d like to know. I felt like her writing in that particular book was so infused with the parental — it was such a mother. She was such a mom voice in that. The way she treated those characters, it felt like a mother was writing it. Then I just started to notice all of the — I read a couple of Dani Shapiro’s books, and Meg Wolitzer. I read The Ten-Year Nap. I was coming out of those little, little, little kid years. I was like, what is the creative experience of being a mother beyond the baby experience? Once you get out of that fog, what do you do with it? That was the other seed. Then I was like, I want to meet these people. I want to talk to Jennifer Egan, Ayelet Waldman, Meg Wolitzer. I mean, I haven’t.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, you’re so funny.

Mallory: That was how it started. There’s all these moms I’d like to know. Eventually, I was like, I have to just start. I have to just do it. I was still doing the voice-over work. This was a few years ago. This was 2016, late 2015. In between there, my book came out. The 2012 period of fertile mind when I started to get my mind back, that’s when I had the idea for the book. Then that process took from — I think I signed the deal in 2013. It came out in 2015. I was a little circuitous in my journey there, but that’s what I’ve been doing. In the meantime, I still do the voice-over work. I have my show. I’ve hosted a few other podcasts now. People now come to me to host their parenting podcasts for different brands. That’s what I do. My show is really fun because, as you know, it’s so great to invite people over to your house and get to ask them questions. It’s an amazing opportunity.

Zibby: It’s the best.

Mallory: It’s so cool. I’ve been loving doing that. It’s really great. It’s a lot of work. I admire you so much because you crank. You crank, girl. It’s really impressive because I know it’s a lot of work, preparation, actual interviews, reading the books. I see a lot of books there that I need to read for next week because I have one coming that’s coming to my show.

Zibby: Which one?

Mallory: Madeline Levine, I’m interviewing her next week.

Zibby: Me too, next week. We should just set up a station.

Mallory: I know. We should. So that’s kind of my journey.

Zibby: I’m actually thinking now how much more efficient it would be for authors if a bunch of podcasters had a space together and they could go from one show to the next.

Mallory: It’s true. They do that by phone. They do those radio satellites. You don’t do anything by phone, do you? You try to do everything in person?

Zibby: I did a few of those at the beginning.

Mallory: It’s not as good.

Zibby: It’s not. It’s like a waste. Also, I feel that when they’re offered like that, “Hey, would you like to have a twenty-minute slot in this marathon day?” then you just get very media-trained answers, so I don’t feel like I’m learning more than I would reading a little more about the author versus being with them or even on Skype or something.

Mallory: Making eye contact, totally agree.

Zibby: It just makes such a difference. Or at least having more time where you know you’re not in a factory lineup. So forget it. Forget my idea.

Mallory: I hear you. No, no, no, it’s going to be an empire.

Zibby: Plus, then I’d have to leave my house. You’d have to leave your house. It would defeat the whole purpose.

Mallory: I like when they come to your house. It’s so great.

Zibby: I like it too. Forget it. Forget I said anything.

Mallory: All right, forget it. Scratch that. No, it’s a good idea.

Zibby: Sometimes my ideas are just terrible.

Mallory: But efficiency’s good. I think that’s so interesting too because when I have authors now, I know — because those early days when I was a book publicist, that’s all we did. We set up their book tours. Granted, it’s different now. It’s not quite the same. Still, you have to get the town cars. You have to get the venue for the event. Then you have to make sure people come to the event. In a lot of ways, they’re going through the same thing. Now I think it’s tough for authors because there’s so much more pressure for them to promote themselves. I think that’s okay. It gives them more agency. It’s also challenging because there’s so much out there. It’s so much content all the time, don’t you feel?

Zibby: Yes.

Mallory: I’m sure authors, they appreciate so much really having the time and the space to talk about their book. Why did you write this? Not to have the experience of the ten-minute cranking out of the questions.

Zibby: Yeah, because it’s not always about just the book. Everybody has such an interesting story. Don’t you think?

Mallory: Of course, totally.

Zibby: We’re both so interested in other people. Is there anything you have taken away from any of your interviews that you feel like, this is the one thing I have to keep in mind or really helped me or something?

Mallory: What I try to do is stay within my curiosity realm. That’s been a challenge. The first season of the show, it was kind of experimental. Anyone that I thought was interesting I’d invite on. For example, I did an interview with a woman that I became friends with. She was a maternal fetal surgeon. She did a lot of surgeries on little, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny babies in utero. Her name’s Julianna. She’s this incredibly steady, smart, awesome woman. She had this really demanding job. Her mom was a retired anthropologist who I think maybe you saw on my —

Zibby: — Yes.

Mallory: She had had a long career in museum work and then also anthropology and writing all these books about Italy and the seventies. She was just so groovy. I had her on. I had them both on because she had come to live with her daughter to help watch the kids while she had this big job in Philadelphia. She commuted from New York to do this surgery job. She had a great husband too, but she needed — she had three boys. I thought this is such a cool, interesting group of people, two people that I know. This is working. This is a really great example of how parenting can work in this culture when we don’t always have grandparents around. Many of us pay for help. It was a real story. It was very beautiful because they really helped each other out. It was just lovely. I had them both on. Maybe I didn’t get my most downloads from that story. I had Ana Gasteyer. She’s a famous person. I’ve had a few bigger names. But I just liked them. I thought they were interesting. I thought other people would be interested. That’s kind of what the show is. The example I always give people, you go to a party — I feel like in this age, I’m forty-seven, whenever I got out now, I always end up yapping with some other cool woman. I talk to men, but my interest is always in, what are these groovy women doing? all generations. I’m really interested in, what are older women doing? If you’re young, what do you think you’re going to be doing? My show, that’s what I’d like to know. That’s the main thing I’d like to know. How’s everyone doing out there? Are you doing what you thought you would be doing? What do you think you’d want to be doing? What surprises have gotten in the way of your life that you’re doing exactly what you thought you wouldn’t be doing? I think that that’s what I want out of it.

Zibby: Do you feel like you’re doing what you want to be doing?

Mallory: I do. It’s funny. Most of the time, I’m really proud of my creative output. I feel like I’m proud of it. I’m happy. There are times where I wish I had done something more straight ahead. All the ups and downs, it’s been very cool. There are times where you’re like, I wish that I could just go to a job and have someone tell me what to do or work with people or have a team. Many of my friends now, since I’m forty-seven, they are very successful. They have big jobs. That, to me, sometimes is like, I don’t know what that’s like to work in an office. I haven’t worked in an office in twenty years. To me, I think things could be a little more, not easy, but more straightforward. But then I think I would not like that. Every opportunity I’ve had to go in that direction, I’ve steered way clear of it. So I don’t know. I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s always evolving. I think it sounds like for you too, it’s evolving. This is a very interesting field. This podcasting business is very interesting. I’m not sure what it is anymore or what it ever has been. I know that I like talking to people. I like meeting people. I like amplifying good stories. I like the concept of talking into a microphone. I think I know how to do it pretty well. I can listen. I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but we’ll see. I don’t know. I don’t know what else I’m doing.

Zibby: I was going to ask you, what’s coming next? I feel like it’s all like …? Do you have anything short term coming up, aside from the podcast?

Mallory: I was trying to figure out. As I was saying, I did this really intense, not intense, but just kind of loose first season. My first season was forty-five episodes. I don’t think they teach you that in podcast school. I don’t really know. I was just really literally doing it myself. I was like, when do I stop? When do I cut?

Zibby: I don’t even have seasons. I’m like, whatever.

Mallory: Right. Why do you need to? You don’t.

Zibby: I don’t. I don’t know. I just don’t.

Mallory: Similarly, I feel like yours just grew and grew and grew. Then all of a sudden, everyone probably was pitching you and you couldn’t say no because you were interested in all these books, right?

Zibby: That’s right. That’s exactly what’s happening. I mean, I say no, but there are a lot of books that are so good. Then I’m like, now I’m giving up on this whole person and their whole life, but I have to. I have to say, would I buy this book in a bookstore? I have to be really strict with myself. If I wouldn’t buy it and it doesn’t appeal to me on any level, then I can’t do it.

Mallory: Right. You can’t let your heart be broken by some book that’s in a bookstore that no one bought. It’s heartbreaking. It is, especially when you meet all these people. I don’t only interview authors. It works very well with the podcast with promotion and stuff like that. Everyone has a story. It’s hard to not feel compelled to talk to somebody.

Zibby: I totally agree.

Mallory: I feel like that, like people are all interesting. The second season of my podcast, which I just finished, was all about loss. I had more of a theme. I think the next season I’m also going to have a theme because it’s anchoring me in terms of figuring out, why? It’s just making more sense of, what’s the reason for this? I believe that just talking to people and amplifying things is great. We’re almost at this moment in time where I feel like I need some anger. I need to know what I’m focusing on. I’m trying to figure that part out at the moment. I have a couple of other book ideas. Kind of wanted Ella two to happen. Didn’t happen. I’m working with a producer on a TV project based on Ella. Again, these things are very hard to do. They’re long shots, but this is a woman I’ve been working with for a few years. We’re pitching it, an animated series. That might be fun. I had an idea for a book that I worked on really hard last year with an agent. We just couldn’t do it. It was about loss and talking to kids about loss. I really tried. We both tried. Then we met and we’re like, we’re not going to be able to do it. That was also a really good lesson. Some things are not necessarily supposed to live on as things other people experience. It’s hard because you want everything that you think —

Zibby: — I want to read that book. Send it to me.

Mallory: I will. It was the Tree of Life incident. I grew up in Pittsburgh. That was my synagogue. When that shooting happened, I wrote a piece for The Washington Post.

Zibby: I remember that.

Mallory: It was really from the heart. It was all about where we live in our childhood minds, what we bring into our memories about physical spaces. That story was so evocative because I knew the physical space so intimately. That was my idea. We know intimately where we went to school. We remember what the banister feels like walking up the stairs from gym class. I wanted to figure out how to convey that in talking to kids about the reality of these terrible things that were happening. I still don’t know how to do that. This is the question of our age. How do we talk to our children about all these terrible, difficult things that are happening? One editor was interested from a big publisher, but it was getting really watered down, I think because nobody wants to talk about gun violence. Nobody wants to talk about anti-Semitism, obviously. Yet it just keeps happening. It seems like there has to be these ways to do it. That’s something I’ve been thinking about. It was a really cool experience. I’m glad I worked on it. I’ll sit with it and see what happens. Then I have another idea for a book about a quirky little boy like mine. That is also kind of happening. I work on it when I work on it. If no one’s coming to you demanding something, you do what you do. Now the podcast is rolling. People pitch me. People have books coming out. People are working on cool stuff. I meet them. I’m like, I’d like to talk to you. I think at the moment, that’s the thrust.

Zibby: Do you have any advice to aspiring authors?

Mallory: I do. I think that if you want to write something, you have to make it really, really, really good. I mean, you really do. You really have to work on it for a long time. I think if you have an idea for something, you’ve got to explore the idea. Particularly, a lot of people ask me about writing a kids’ book. I think that you really need to have the book completed and as good as it’s going to be. You can’t really have an idea and take an idea to an agent. Where we are in publishing, it’s too competitive. There’s too many people doing it who are already established or who are famous and have a late night show. I keep talking about the late night people because they all do children’s books. To me, it’s like, I bet a lot of people have really funny ideas that aren’t the Jimmys or whatever, which is fine. They’re great. I love late night guys. That’s great, but I think that that’s the business of publishing. You’ve got to get your head around that. You have to know that just because you have an idea for a book and your friend did the illustrations, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it into an agent’s hands because they’re very overwhelmed.

You have to just make it really, really, really, really good, or do it yourself. At this day and age, I just don’t think that having a book published by a big — there’s what, like three publishers now? I don’t know that it’s going to benefit that, that, that much. If you love it and you have an idea and you want to make it, you should make it. You can make it. You can do it. You might have to spend a little money to make it. Then you could decide, do I actually want to print this a million times? Do I want to try to get it into bookstores and sell it myself? But do it. Don’t be afraid to do stuff. Don’t think that’s somebody’s just going to take your idea and scoop it up and say, “Yes, let’s do it.” That does happen, but it’s not that common. If you have an idea for a podcast, make the podcast. Make a few episodes. Don’t just talk about it. Don’t just ask somebody else how to do it. Just do it. You have to just do things. Is that harsh? Is that too mom-like?

Zibby: I love it. That’s perfect. That’s great. It’s great advice. It needs to be said.

Mallory: Thank you. Sorry, I don’t mean to be harsh.

Zibby: Don’t say sorry. No, stop it.

Mallory: I know it’s hard. It’s so hard, but all the good things you want to do are hard. Anything cool people want to do, it’s hard.

Zibby: You’ve got to work at it. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Mallory: Thank you, Zibby.

Zibby: This was so fun.

Mallory: So fun. Now you have to come on mine.

Zibby: Okay.

Mallory: Yeah? You’ll come over to my house? Come to Brooklyn?

Zibby: Sure, I’d love to. We’ll just keep going back and forth.

Mallory: Awesome. Thank you.

Zibby: Bye.

Mallory Kasdan, ELLA