In the Spotlight: Lori Day

As many of you know, I’ve started a new occasional feature on my blog — a series of author interviews called In the Spotlight. Taking center stage today is Lori Day.

Lori Day (r) and Charlotte Kugler
Lori Day (r) and Charlotte Kugler

That’s Lori on the right. Notice a resemblance between these two?  Yep. They’re a mother-daughter duo!  And co-authors!  How fun is that?

Lori and Charlotte’s new book Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More (Chicago Review Press) has just been published, and it’s a great resource for all you mother-daughter book clubs out there. I’m so happy that Lori is here today to talk with us!


Can you tell us a bit about how this book came about, Lori?

I’m a blogger for Huffington Post, and an acquisitions editor at Chicago Review Press “discovered” me there when she read a post I wrote about princess culture. She then went to my website and read more of my writing, and reached out to me to ask me to submit a book proposal to her on anything I wanted. I decided to write what I did because it was the most transformative experience of my parenting journey, and also of Charlotte’s childhood. I work in the girl empowerment space, with a special focus on media literacy, and I realized I could write about the kind of mother-daughter book club I would create *today* given the changes in girl culture and how much more difficult raising girls has become. I realized these clubs could serve as very practical media literacy tools on top of their traditional purposes of encouraging bonding, socializing and reading, and that moms really need more tools.

At what point did you decide to bring your daughter on board?  Tell us about the inspiration for that and how the collaboration played out.

It was amazing! I thought it would be both fun and genuinely helpful to collaborate with Charlotte. I’ve always dreamed of writing with her. She is so incredibly talented, and wants to be a professional writer, so having her as a contributing author would 1) seriously make the book better, 2) be super fun to do, and 3) give her the credential of being a published author at a young age, as she pursues her own writing career. It played out so well. Her reflections at the end of the last 8 chapters really helped the book blossom and added the genuine perspective of a young woman, since I am 51! But also, she’s a great editor. I mean that in a couple ways. She’s a fantastic proofreader—much better than me—and she caught lots of small intakes. She’s a great developmental editor. We brainstormed all the chapters together, even though I did the research and writing on my own. She was in college double majoring in English and Anthropology, while holding down a part-time writing job for her college’s Communications Office (Mount Holyoke), and working on her own novel. So she was carrying quite a writing load! Her contributions to Her Next Chapter therefore needed to be small in scope, but she did weigh in on a lot of the decisions about content.

I love the “interactive” (for lack of a better word) nature of the book — the discussion questions, suggested activities, recommendations for books & movies, etc. Did you go into this project with a clear vision of the book’s design and mission, or did that evolve? 

Some of both. It was my idea to broaden the scope of how a mother-daughter book club could function by adding options for movies and internet media (because lack of time is one of the reasons moms give for not doing these clubs, and movies/internet videos are very valuable media literacy tools that take less time than reading books; because some kids don’t want to read; because doing clubs is better than not doing them, so whatever it takes to make it easier or more appealing to more mothers and daughters!). It was my editor’s idea to add the extension activities, and that was easy for me. I made some of them up, and others were things I’d done or seen done or heard about while working in schools. The book and movie reviews I totally made up, and the same with the discussion questions. I just seemed to be able to do it! I absolutely wanted to book to be “interactive.” It’s more fun that way, and again, moms need concrete tools. Without them, many feel that doing a mother-daughter book club would be too hard.

I also love the book’s social consciousness. It’s so much more than just a “how-to” book for MDBC’s. You’ve really drilled right to the heart of so many issues that parents are facing as they raise girls (and boys, too!) today, from body image and bullying to gender stereotypes, safety, and more. I also love that you’ve included a chapter on the welfare of women around the world. Such important topics, all of them. How did you select what to include?

Originally there was going to be a 9th chapter on reproductive rights, but my editor and I decided it was too political (not that the rest of the book isn’t “political,” because it is, and that’s another conversation!) Also, there were not enough book and movie options for that topic that are age-appropriate. So the other 8 chapters I simply decided on by myself. I work in the girl empowerment space and these topics just seemed obvious to me. I’m a co-founder of the Brave Girls Alliance, a global think tank of girl empowerment experts and orgs that advocate for healthy media and products for girls. So, I live and breathe the challenges our girls are facing, and the 8 chapters covered the areas I’m most concerned about.

What are your hopes for the book?

Simple: to launch as many mother-daughter book clubs into the world as possible; to give mothers and other female role models the education and the tools needed to push back on our toxic media culture for girls and women; to change girlhood for the better.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

There are two other books out there about mother-daughter book clubs and they are terrific. I recommend them in my book and quote the authors. But what makes Her Next Chapter different is that only 3 chapters are devoted to logistics of forming and running clubs, and that’s all I feel is needed. The bulk of the book dives into the “issues” and gives moms and girls *solutions* via very practical tools that can improve their lives as females. I feel this is what we need in a book about mother-daughter book clubs for 2014. We’ve simply got to find ways for moms and girls to talk about these difficult and tricky topics, and to do so as a village. It was important to me to focus more on that than on diving into the weeds and spending too much time talking about minutia of when/where/how to set up clubs. It’s really not that difficult, and I covered it well in three chapters, leaving the focus of the book on more important matters.

Thanks so much for joining us here today, Lori. I love knowing more about your wonderful book, and I wish you and Charlotte all the best with it! Click here to visit Lori’s website for more information about HER NEXT CHAPTER, including how to purchase it.

To read earlier In the Spotlight interviews with Chris Kurtz, click here, and with Susan Hill Long, click here, and with Sara Hoagland Hunter, click here.