Kristine Gasbarre is having a good year. Before her first book, How to Love An American Man (HarperCollins), even came out last August major Hollywood players including Zooey Deschanel and Katherine Heigl were fighting over the rights to turn it into a film. The book was also touted as the next Eat, Pray, Love. That is a lot of pressure for a first-time book author to live up to and does it make it more difficult to call something a success if you don’t live up to every expectation that was set out for you?
Well, luckily we were able to talk with Kristine about these big questions despite her busy schedule. For a little background on Kristine, after beginning a career in publishing at Simon & Schuster, she quickly learned what women wanted to read and what they were missing from the book market. A trip to Italy followed by the death of her beloved grandfather sparked a writing career and the rest is history. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Network and Sirius/XM’s Oprah Radio, Inside Edition, Good Day New York, WPIX 11 News and The Rachael Ray Show. Her work has been featured in such outlets as the Today Show‘s website, Huffington Post, iVillage.com, Relish Magazine and a special issue of Better Homes & Gardens. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is working on a follow up to How to Love An American Man.
The Grindstone: How did you become a writer? What was your career path?
I’d always loved books, and the more I worked around them when I was in book publishing, the more I realized that I was making observations about the world and society in the same way some authors do. I needed to voice up on behalf of young women in my generation. So after three years of learning why some books get published and then go on to sell well, I left my position. I’d been dying to spend some time in Europe, so I took a job as a nanny in Italy to pay the rent while I started really, seriously brainstorming about my first book. Then, while I was in Italy, my grandfather died…and I’d had it. I was done tackling all the goals I’d set in my twenties. I just needed my family.
None of us thought my hometown would be where my first book would actually happen, or that my Grandma Gloria would play such a major role in my career! Ask a woman to share her wisdom, and the incredible happens.
The Grindstone: Were there any failures in your career that helped you learn?
You know, all the stumbles I made brought me grow more conscious about my footing and how I wanted to move forward in my career. When someone invites you to step up to the plate, take the risk and do it. Even if it doesn’t lead you directly to success, it’s good practice to put yourself out there and ask for what you want. And be nice to everyone. I had no idea my hair dresser had a friend in book publishing who would be willing pass my resume onto HR, but I’m still grateful she thought I was worthy of an introduction. Your next break often comes from a very unexpected resource.
The Grindstone: Why did you decide to write How To Love An American Man? And how did you come up with that great title?
I helped with marketing on dating books like He’s Just Not That Into You. After I let that book sink in, I was like, “What?! This is what Western women are reading?! No wonder half of us are single!” I thought that book gave an important perspective for women to consider, but why was no one talking about the warm-hearted, loving, sexy guys out there? The ones who deserve to be in books, you know?
And in my research, I found that many American men are so independent, stoic and goal-oriented that they really seem to have a hard time just being human in relationships. Allowing themselves to really access their emotions and adore a woman. Lots of readers have figured out, though, that the title is actually a metaphor for what the book is actually about. It’s the story of bonding between two somewhat unlikely women. A journey in young womanhood.
The Grindstone: When you writing it did you think this could work as a movie or is it hard to think like that?
No, I really didn’t think like that at all. When we started getting interest from Hollywood, I was like, “Oh heck yes this could work as a movie!” But no, as I was writing, I just wanted to publish a solid first book.
The Grindstone: Your book was touted as the next Eat, Pray, Love really very early on. Did you feel pressure then? Like is getting a review like that more stressful than pleasant?
The only thing stressful about it was worrying that Elizabeth Gilbert [author of Eat, Pray, Love] might actually read my work. I really appreciate her writing — she’s highly evolved as a woman, a spiritualist, and a writer, and I felt very unworthy of the comparisons. I mean, look, I’ll take them! It’s a huge compliment. But I didn’t ever want her to think that it’s me who finds parallels between our work. I’m still a student. She’s truly one of the masters, and the insights she’s gained warrant the success that has come of her work.