Parent Hacks with Asha Dornfest: An O2O Author Interview

Asha Dornfest is a mom, writer, speaker, podcaster, and in her words “an insistent optimist”. She lives in Portland, OR with her family- husband, two teens, and a dog. We recently caught up with Asha to ask her our favorite author questions.

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O2O: What is your book about?

AD: Parent Hacks is an illustrated handbook for new parents that celebrates those moments of problem-solving brilliance we stumble upon as we handle day-to-day life with kids. The tone is clever and fun, and the tips come from real parents, so my hope is that the book’s not only useful and entertaining, but also encouraging to new parents who are feeling like “someone left us in charge of an ACTUAL BABY!”

O2O: What was your inspiration for writing this book?

AD: The book was inspired by the brilliant and generous contributions of the readers of my 10+ year blog, We found each other on the pre-social media Internet and formed a real community — one that helped me immeasurably as a new parent. I wanted to honor that community by turning the best of the blog into something lasting and beautiful. Thanks to Workman Publishing and the charming work of illustrator Craighton Berman, I got to do just that.

O2O: Was there anything different or surprising about writing this book than when you wrote your previous books?

AD: What surprised me most about writing this book was how DIFFICULT a job it was. I’m no book-writing newbie; I’d written several books before this one, so I knew what I was getting into. But given the book’s breezy style, the small amount of text and (most importantly) the heaps of content on my blog, I thought the manuscript would come together quickly. Wrong! It took incredible work to create a well-organized book that not only provided legitimately useful tips, but was visually appealing as well.

O2O: What were your writing habits?

AD: I wrote every day, pretty intensively. Writing the book involved both organizing heaps of content (the blog contains over 4000 posts) plus original writing for each hack.

I took frequent breaks (often on social media) to connect with people and share the experience, but, mostly, it was just me in my office. Thank goodness for my supportive husband and family.

O2O: What was the best advice that another writer gave you about writing?

AD: I’ve been a writer for over 20 years, so at this point writing feels like part of my DNA. It’s as natural to me to write as it is to talk. But my very favorite “writer on writing” is Anne Lamott. Her book Bird By Bird will always be a wonder to me. Here’s a great post at Brain Pickings about the book (with links to a bunch more fascinating stuff).

O2O: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?

The best advice I could give to another writer is to “just keep writing.” (Not unlike Dory’s cheerful exhortation to “just keep swimming.”) Tell the stories you need to tell. Tell them with a spirit of generosity. Share your knowledge or your inner life. Don’t be afraid to change and improve. Keep going.

O2O: Will you write another book?

AD: Maybe?

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