Interview With Jen Mann: Author Of ‘Spending The Holidays With People I Want To Punch In The Throat’
Get ready to laugh at some of blogger Jen Mann’s funniest moments in her latest book, Spending The Holidays With People I Want To Punch In The Throat. The book is a followup to People I Want To Punch In The Throat, which was a New York Times Humor bestseller (Oh and she has a blog of the same name too!)
This time Mann’s essays are focused on the holidays, like Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and even Flag Day. I like her titles (ex: How Shopping With Me At Christmastime is the Best Birth Control There Is and “Nice Halloween Costume. Was Skank Sold Out?)
So where does she get all her crazy stories from? Her hometown of Overland Park, Kansas where she lives with “the Hubs” and their two children “Gomer” and “Adolpha”.
Mann found time to stop throat punching and answered my questions!
• How did you come up with the title People I Want To Punch In The Throat for your blog? Did you get haters over that?
I started blogging in 2011. In those days I worked from home with my husband. I am a complainer, by nature, and without any co-workers to talk to or break rooms to escape to, the Hubs had had enough of me. I have a degree in creative writing and one thing I always said was that I was going to write a book “someday.” The Hubs begged me to start a blog where I could put down all of my irritations and talk about anything that annoyed me (including him). I didn’t know anything about blogging except that you needed a cute name. I read lots of blogs with super cute names and I had no idea how to come up with an original one that wasn’t taken. The Hubs said, “No. You don’t need a cute name. Your blog should be ‘People I Want to Punch in the Throat’ since that’s what you always say.” To my shock, that URL was still available, so I bought it and the rest is history.
I wouldn’t call them “haters,” rather “misunderstanders.” The name instantly draws a line in the sand for people. You either hate the name or love it. You either cringe and back away slowly or laugh. I want the laughers to join me. So the name quickly weeds out people who would never find me funny anyway. Every now and again I’ll get a true hater who really doesn’t understand humor or what I do and they think I might be violent (I’ve never hit anyone in my life).
• Have you bought any Christmas presents yet?
I am almost done this year! My kids are older now, they’re 9 and 11 and so they’re past the age of wanting a lot of toys. I don’t have to scramble around town to find the hottest whatever for them. They want electronics, clothing, or cash, so it makes it very easy on me. They’re also at the age where I buy very little without their written approval, so they email me links to items they want and then I pick and choose what I’ll buy and order it all online.
• What are your kids personalities like? Did they read your book?
They’re both do-gooder hall monitor types who freak out if they hear someone swear. If I try and lie to my mom about something, “We’ve got plans tonight, Mom, sorry we can’t come over,” they lose their minds and rat me out. They’re great students (which is surprising because I was known more for being the class clown than the class brain). They’re both really funny. My son is goofy funny. He’s a ham who will fall down a flight of stairs if he has to to get the laugh. My daughter is quieter, but her wit is deadly funny. The only thing they’ve ever read that I wrote is a children’s book I wrote for them several years ago. They don’t read my blog or my books. I fully expect them to someday and I’m not worried about what they’ll think. They have good senses of humor and they can laugh at themselves. They’re both good writers and I look forward to reading the books they write about me someday.
• How many blog conferences have you been to? Do you find them still exciting? (I’ve been two Blogher ones myself)
I’ve been to several conferences at this point. I think three or four different franchises. I can’t say that I find them exciting. Most of them are very large and can be overwhelming when you’re not very outgoing (like me). I find the classes at most of the conferences to be very basic, which is great for those who are just beginning, but there isn’t a lot for people who have been blogging for a few years now. That’s why I tend to only attend conferences where I’m speaking. I’d rather teach others how to succeed. Conferences also focus a lot on brands. Because of the title of my blog I don’t do a lot of brand work. Many brands are leery of me and I can’t pay my bills in free mops. I work with brands who find me and recognize that I’m bringing something of worth to them. None of them have found me at a conference. I think conferences are a great place to network with other bloggers and find your tribe. There are people who you click with on social media and I think conferences are a great opportunity to come together in the same city and really spend some time together. A solid tribe is a huge key to a successful blog and conferences can be a wonderful place to connect.
• What do you want for Christmas this year?
I’d love a week by myself at a spa somewhere. No husband, no kids, no phone, no social media (unless I want to get on an humblebrag about my week at the spa). Just me and my laptop and my Kindle. But I got a dishwasher instead.