Reviews and Interviews is a host to the winners of Shirley You Jest! Book Awards. SYJ! honors books by self-published and traditionally published indie authors who "deliver the funny" in the categories of fiction and non-fiction.
Today’s guest, Dawn Dais, is the winner of the non-fiction competition with her book, The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby’s First Year.
Dawn Dais is a freelance writer, designer, and filmmaker from Sacramento, CA. Her two previous books, The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women and The Noncyclist's Guide to the Century and Other Road Races, were published by Seal Press, have topped Amazon.com best-seller lists, and have been featured by countless TV and print media sources. Her uniquely sarcastic yet inspiring tone has entertained and guided an enthusiastic core of readers towards their various ridiculous athletic goals.
Dawn's most recent book The Sh!t No One Tells You is a funny and informational book about the joys (and cussing) of parenthood.
Dawn lives in Sacramento, CA, with her family.
Welcome, Dawn – and congratulations!
Thank you, I'm happy to be here.
Please tell us about your current release.
My current book, The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby’s First Year is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a humorous book that aims to help new parents navigate the first year with their first baby.
What inspired you to write this book?
The first year with my new baby was not the easiest of times, so I wanted to write something to let other parents know they are not along in their struggles.
Here is an excerpt from my Introduction, which pretty much sums up my inspiration for writing the book:
At some point during the first few weeks with their new bundle of joy, every parent will most likely utter/scream/sigh/cry out into the night, "I had no idea it was going to be this hard!" This is because a vast conspiracy exists to hide the truth from all whom have yet to bring home a baby, for fear that if the truth were to get out people would (1) stop having babies, or (2) stop bringing them home. I am here to end that silence. And replace it with a lot of bitching.
Before I had a baby I would see those Johnson & Johnson commercials where a mom is gleefully giving her perfect and beautiful smiling baby a bath in the sink. Splashing and giggles ensue. The tagline for the commercial is “Having a baby changes everything.” I used to well up with emotion when I watched that commercial, knowing that when I had a baby she would change everything too. And by “changes everything” I thought they meant “changes the things you clean in the sink.” Turns out by “everything,” they actually mean “everything, as in your entire life, we are not joking.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my child deeper than I ever thought I had the capacity to, but it’s not all giggles and playful splashing. I actually think the most difficult part of new parenting is the conflicting emotions you feel, and your fear of even acknowledging those different emotions, let alone sharing them. I felt guilty that I wasn’t loving every second and that I didn’t look or feel anything like I thought an ecstatic new mother should.
Of course, I had expected it to be hard, but somehow not this hard. I blame my lack of information on my friends who had children before me. When I told them I was pregnant all I heard was, “Congrats!” and “Yippee!!” Never did any of them say, “Hold on to your f’n hat. Shit’s about to get real.” Sure, it would have been the first time any of them had ever said, “Shit’s about to get real,” but I feel like it would have been the perfect time to christen the phrase.
So that is what I’ve set out to do with this book. Warn you about all the shit no one is telling you. My intention is not to frighten you or to scare you off having children. My hope is to give you what I didn’t have: the ability to say, “I am not the only parent in the history of the planet to have their asses handed to them by something they could fit in a purse.” Knowing you are not alone actually helps a little. Trust me, misery does love company, especially during 3 a.m. feeding sessions.
So let’s head out on this parenting adventure together, shall we? There will be ups, downs, tears, and vomit. And that’s just the childbirth. Because, as I warned you before, shit’s about to get real . . .
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I have a toddler and a four-month-old baby. The most exciting thing I’m working on is trying to get eight hours of sleep in a row. I am making notes about the wonder that is having two young children and will most likely write a follow up (Even More Sh!t) soon. I’m also hoping to finish that novel I’ve been rolling around in my head for years, but again, sleep is first and foremost on my list of things to do right now.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer, since I was a little kid. I always knew I was pretty good at it because I could write my way out of pretty much any school assignment (except math, unfortunately). But I don’t think I really believed my writing was anything more than a hobby or something I did in notebooks that were never seen by anyone else.
Years ago, when I (the laziest person on the planet) started training for a marathon I also started writing humorous training updates that I sent out to friends and family. The updates were a big hit and eventually I took those updates and turned them into a whole book of marathon excitement (The Nonrunner’s Marathon Training Guide for Women). The fact that a publisher actually wanted to publish my pile of sarcastic words and in turn random strangers wanted to buy my pile of words made me finally believe that maybe I might be a real writer after all.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full-time. I don’t do anything full-time really, I juggle a lot of different things. I’m a mom and I have my kids home most of the time. I have babysitters and grandparents to help watch them about half the time during the week while I work. I work from home as a freelance graphic designer to pay the bills and I write when I get the chance.
Unfortunately I don’t get to write as much or as often as I would like. I’m hoping as my kids get a bit older I’ll have more time to focus on my writing. I really enjoy writing and more than that I enjoy putting books out into the world. I love that words that I’ve come up with alone with my keyboard can somehow reach a person I’ve never met and make them laugh or help them in some small way. It’s a very cool feeling to have the chance to communicate with so many people that way, so I know I’ll continue to put out books in hopes of continuing that connection.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing diet is enough to make any dentist cringe in horror. It usually involves quite a bit of chocolate, perhaps some cotton candy, several Mountain Dews, and an unfortunate amount of fast food. Somehow, like a child, I have to keep myself motivate with treats. And the sugar high keeps my fingers moving fast.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lot of times kids want to grow up to be like the people they see in their lives. I had several career possibilities that I aspired to. I had the regular teacher and doctor on the list, but the one that entertains me most now is my dream of becoming a grocery store check-out girl. I guess the lady at the store really made an impression on me because I thought her job was the coolest ever. All that scanning and bagging looked like a bunch of fun to me. Sadly I never realized any of my childhood career dreams, but I always hold out hope that a grocery store may be in my future.