Life Story

Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn’t fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in).

She spent ten years working (slaving away) in New York in book publishing where she was a (much-abused under-appreciated) publicist for Times Books, Vintage Books, Turtle Bay Books, Atlantic Monthly Press, and Alfred A. Knopf.

After moving to Washington, D.C. (because she was burnt out and didn’t know where else to go) and working briefly as a project manager for The Smithsonian Associates (she had a cubicle) and a consultant for Share Our Strength, an anti-poverty non-profit group (she didn’t even have a cubicle), she (finally) finished her first novel (that she’d been writing in her “spare time” for the last five years).

(The thinly-disguised autobiographical novel) Animal Husbandry was published in 1998 by The Dial Press and became a national bestseller. It was published in fourteen countries (or more, she’s not sure) and in 2001 the film based on the book, Someone Like You, (they changed the title at the last minute because they were afraid people wouldn’t “get” the meaning of the original title — not that she’s complaining or anything) starring Ashley Judd and (excuse her while she drools) Hugh Jackman, was released by Fox 2000. Her second (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Dating Big Bird, also published by The Dial Press, came out in 2000, and her third (thinly disguised autobiographical) novel, Her, published by Knopf (where she once worked — an exquisite irony), followed in 2002, and was optioned by Julia Roberts’ production company (nothing happened). Her fourth (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Piece of Work, published by Warner Books/Grand Central in 2006 (finally, after four long years in between books), is based on her (horrific but entertaining) experiences as a publicist and was optioned by Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone Pictures (nothing happened).  Her first work of “collaborative non-fiction” (ghostwriting with her name on it) — a self-help book written with television matchmaker Patti Novak — Get Over Yourself! How to Get Real, Get Serious, and Get Ready to Find True Love, was published in 2009 by Ballantine Books.

She currently lives outside Boston (in the same town she grew up in — how weird is that? — and where she now feels like fits in) with her husband and young son.  She’s a(n irregular) contributor to The New York Times, a(n occasional) guest blogger for The Huffington Post, (and no longer has a cartoon-strip blog on about her experience with breast cancer).  She’s (finally) at work on a (thinly disguised autobiographical) non-fiction book about moving home, as an adult, to where she grew up, called Still Life With Braces.

4 thoughts on “Life Story

  1. Kirie says:

    I love this life story, and the “how to be a writer” piece too. Thanks for making my day!

  2. tim says:

    Hi Ziggy,

    It’s definitely been a few years since we last talked, but I’m happy to hear you’re back in Newton and hope you’re happy.

    Thinking of you,

    Tim B.

  3. […] With millions of movie projects out there, we see a lot of Xtranormal links flying around the web each day. Recently a new, ongoing series of movies appeared that caught our eye, the “Conversations“ series, which it turns out were created by writer Laura Zigman. […]

  4. Laura, saw that you somehow found me on Twitter (I’m not much of a tweeter). We met at the Newton JCC Book Festival a few years ago. I used to date your cousin Joel Skolnick, and he told me you’d be speaking.

    I quite enjoyed “Animal Husbandry” and have envied your literary life. I still have 3 unpublished novels and an unproduced play “Single Again” (although a scene “Have a Nice Evening” was produced and won Audience Favorite for Comedy at the Playwrights Platform Summer Festival last June at the BU Playwrights Theatre). I had the agent from hell for a year – he wasted a year of my life doing nothing, and I needed a lawyer to not only sever the contract but get me a definitive response that he had not sent the novel to any editors so that I know what I can tell the next agent.

    On to Grub Street’s Muse and the Marketplace again. Do you go to this great conference?


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