I caught up with Jen Lancaster as she was heading to the airport. In the background, her dogs were barking a welcome to the guy who cleans up their “messes” from the back yard. “The best 11 dollars I ever spent in my life,” Lancaster says. “I don’t know what he does with it but that is not my concern [though]; I hope it’s going to a farmer somewhere to be used as fertilizer.”
In her new novel, “Twisted Sisters,” Jen Lancaster has written a story of sibling rivalry run amok. A story of three sisters – one of which is deeply unhappy in her life but doesn’t realize it – and who transforms her relationships with her sisters in a highly unorthodox way.
“This book,” says Lancaster, “is about the relationships between sisters and how sibling rivalry can make you absolutely crazy.”
The protagonist of “Twisted Sisters” is Dr. Reagan Bishop, a psychologist who works on a small cable channel program. When the show gets picked up by the network she’s asked to change her herself and her show in a big way.
“She goes with the unorthodox suggestion of body-swapping. There’s a whole astral projection element to this, which is too complicated to explain in an interview but it works. And what ends up happening is not only does she help the people she’s supposed to help but she really ends up helping herself by learning what it’s like to be her sisters,” Lancaster explains.
Regan Bishop is very unhappy as the book opens, to say the least.
According to Lancaster, that’s ok. “In the last couple of novels that I’ve written and really in my memoirs, I am someone who tends to explode. I’ve always written characters, protagonists who are more likely to explode,” she says. “In this one, the character Reagan is someone who is imploding. She’s doing it quietly, she’s doing it deliberately. So she makes snotty comments, but they’re generally inside her head. She’s someone who will sit down and have a therapy session with someone and the entire time she’ll be judging them and thinking up negative things about them and when she gets bored with their problems, she’ll start putting together her shopping list. So she’s not a nice person, and she’s not a happy person but I think by the end of the book she will be.”
For fans of Lancaster’s previous book, “Here I Go Again,” the new-age character Deva makes an appearance. She helps Reagan make her life changes. Lancaster says she takes a lot of her inspiration from 80’s pop culture. One of her novels was a tip of the hat to the film, “The Money Pit.” This one, to “Freaky Friday” [the Jodie Foster version].
“I was in high school and college in the 80’s so when I think about the decade that really defined me and helped me figure out who I was and what I was about and the habits that I started, I really have to look to the 80’s. It’s such an influence on my entire life – even my style with the flipped collar, white socks and loafers.”
Her style choices were on display at a recent interview with Cosmo Radio in New York. That’s right – Cosmo. There she was, says Lancaster, in all her 80’s style. “All these women who were beautifully turned in designer dresses and stilettos all were walking by me wearing my stupid socks and loafers and I thought, ‘well, this is the decade I had to pick.’”
The next one? Why not “The Breakfast Club” for co-workers I asked. “That is something honest-to-God I have thought about,” Lancaster exclaims. “When you look at the Breakfast Club, each one of those is a type…. [An office] is like a family you didn’t choose and you have to stick around if you want to live indoors.”
Jen Lancaster kicks of her tour for “Twisted Sisters” tonight at BookPeople at 7 pm.