22: Interview with Jessica Fein

Jessica Fein's first book, Moving On: How to Make the Transition from College to the Real World (which I'm still trying to figure out) was published in 1996. She has also been a Boston Globe columnist and Huff Post contributor.

But one of her most remarkable accomplishments is as a mom of three amazing kids. When her beautiful daughter Dalia passed away in March 2022 from an ultra-rare mitochondrial disease called MERRF syndrome, she was compelled to transition from how-to format and personal essay to long-form memoir.

Her newest book, tentatively titled Breath Taking, is scheduled to be released in 2024 (which cannot get here soon enough). 

In the latest episode of the Write the Damn Book Already podcast, we talked about her journey through the writing and acquisition of this newest book. 


Highlights include: 

  • Discovering in what unexpected ways her story was extraordinary WHILE writing. For Jessica, this marks the difference between “Here’s what happened” and “Here's why it mattered.”
  • How the book kept blossoming into a bigger and bigger story (and how she got her arms around all while not getting overwhelmed by the massive amount of content/story)
  • Going from "This is a tough read" to writing so people will be uplifted and inspired, because that’s what the overall theme/message is
  • The story behind the title (which could NOT be more perfect).
  • The process of writing and submitting to agents today versus for her previous book
  • Her favorite part of the story to write (and the part she fell even MORE in love with while writing)
  • How she dipped her toe back into the waters that felt the scariest write about, as well as the scenes that were almost too hard to relive and how she navigated them in a self-supporting way
  • How she included others’ role in the story (even when they were main characters) in order to protect others’ experiences and ownership of their own story
  • The expected editing timeline with her traditional publisher (it might surprise you how the process works behind the scenes)
  • The BEST words when it comes to how to write your first draft
  • Learning how to edit/revise as a memoirist versus a journalist
  • Why Jessica still hesitates to claim the label of “writer” (even though she's already published and was a columnist for a major national publication and a contributor to another) 


Jessica Fein's website

Jessica Fein on Instagram (@feinjessica)

Jessica Fein on Facebook