Q&A with Laura Jamison, Author of All the Right Mistakes

by Heather Caliendo
laura jamison interview - book club chat
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Laura Jamison is the author of All the Right Mistakes, which will publish on August 4. 

Laura Jamison is an attorney from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and their four children. When she is not practicing law or writing, she is driving her kids to one of their many activities in her minivan. Laura is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan Law School. All the Right Mistakes is her first book.

Here’s the synopsis:

Five college friends have arrived at forty in very different circumstances, but with at least one thing in common: they are among the more privileged in society. Elizabeth and Sara are lawyers, Martha is a doctor, Carmen is a wealthy and well-educated homemaker, and Heather, the most successful, is a famous tech executive―and after more than two decades of friendship, they know one another better than anyone.

Then Heather writes a women’s advice book detailing the key life “mistakes” of her four friends―opting out, ramping off, giving half effort, and forgetting your fertility―that becomes wildly popular, and Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, and Carmen all feel the sting of Heather’s cruel words. Despite their status, these women face everyday obstacles, including work problems, parenting challenges, secondary infertility, racism, sexism, financial stress, and marital woes―and as they weather their fortieth year, each one can’t help but wonder if their life might have been different if they had followed Heather’s advice.
But as these friends are continually reminded, life is complex, messy, disappointing, and joyful, often all at once―and no one can plan her way out of that reality. In the end, all five women must embrace the idea that their lives are shaped not just by their choices but also by how they handle the obstacles life inevitably throws at us all.

Get to know Laura as she talks writing inspirations, favorite novels and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

I read all different kinds of books, but fiction is my favorite! I read a lot of women’s fiction and also enjoy spy thrillers and children/YA books (OK, I actually love YA).

When did you know you wanted to become an author? 

I never set out to be a writer. But I was always a terrific reader.

I grew up in a town of two thousand, nestled on the Ohio River. My fondest childhood memories were combing the stacks of the Ripley Library, the last Carnegie Library to be built in the state of Ohio, or going with my parents to the mall and being allowed to buy a new book. I read everything, but, even then, I had a particular fondness for books that considered women’s choices. Those of you of a certain age might remember the Sunfire books, a series of young adult historical romance novels published by Scholastic Books in the 1980s. I collected them all. It wasn’t the romance that drew me in. It was the choices – should Emily simply fall back on her wealthy family or follow her dream to work hard and become a nurse? No chance, of course, for Emily to become a doctor in turn-of-the century New York.

When it was time for my own choices, I gravitated to law. There was a lot I loved about it, and still do. At its best, practicing law is about thinking creatively and helping people craft solutions that create new value for both sides. I’ve been lucky to practice law both in a large national firm and at two publicly traded companies while raising my four children. No two days are the same and I have had the good fortune to work alongside a number of talented people including my most important partner, my husband, Nate (feeding twins at midnight and three a.m. so I can sleep–he’s got that handled).

And yet. Life had more in store for me because in the summer of 2016, at the ripe old age of 41, I began work on my first novel. 

What inspired you to write All the Right Mistakes?

I was visiting my parents when the idea for the book came to me. I read a news item that Ivanka was writing a book about how women could architect their lives to be successful. Here we go again, I thought. Another book geared toward telling women, not institutions or society, to change themselves (and from an author who I doubted had a perspective that would be relevant to most moms). Exhausting and irritating. But Ivanka, after all, is a person who is trying to be helpful, in her way. What if she was your friend, even your best friend? And so the idea All the Right Mistakes was born.

What do you like best about writing contemporary fiction?

It an opportunity to tell the truth about the world, and maybe about your own life, combined with the freedom fiction affords.

What’s the best way for book clubs to reach out to you to arrange a visit via Skype?

Email me through my website – laurajamisonauthor.com or send me a Facebook or Instagram message. I’d be honored to speak with any book club!

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

I just downloaded the ARC of a book called Adult Conversation by Brandy Ferner. It’s coming out on May 5 and looks like a perfect quarantine read! I’m actually trying to buy as many book from spring authors right now, even if I don’t have time to read them all right away. It’s a tough time for a book to come out and I want to support them in any way I can.

Click here to buy All the Right Mistakes on Amazon.

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