Author Jen Lancaster on bucket lists, conservatism and (not) writing about sex

Jen Lancaster has built a career on reinventing herself. In “Such a Pretty Fat,” she tackled weight loss. In “My Fair Lazy,” she sought high culture. In “The Tao of Martha,” she lived a life informed by Martha Stewart.

In recent years, Lancaster has also reinvented herself as a novelist, most recently with the sibling rivalry of “Twisted Sisters” and time-traveling delirium of “Here I Go Again.”

A Lake Forest transplant, Lancaster is also our guest editor for the Lake Forester this week, championing Habitat for Humanity as her charity.

Below is an excerpt of our wide-ranging conversation, which included musings on regret, “Twilight,” her bucket list and why she’ll never write a sex scene.

You can listen to the entire interview on our podcast “The Big Questions,” available on iTunes, SoundCloud and YouTube.

Q: Two years ago, while writing “The Tao of Martha” you overcame your fear of Halloween, right?

Lancaster: I had been terrified of Halloween my entire adult life. Loved it as a kid, but the minute I got out of college, there were little kids at my door demanding candy; which, No. 1, I couldn’t afford, and, No. 2, if I had candy, it would be mine. So, I started to avoid Halloween.

So, part of the whole Martha Stewart thing is: Halloween is kind of her Super Bowl. So we had to recognize Halloween. I went all out. I did costumes. I decorated the house. I put glitter on pumpkins, which was the greatest thing to ever happen to me in my entire life.

Q: Am I remembering this right? You called glitter the STD of the crafting world?

Lancaster: It is the STD of the crafting world because it never, ever goes away. If you look at the floor still, there’s glitter here from two years ago.

So I went all out and I bought — and this still makes me angry — I bought 200 full size candy bars, because I wanted to be the house that kids came to and remembered 30 years later saying, “Oh my God, that one place, gave us full size Snickers bars!” So I got all ready. I had everything set. I faced my fear of Halloween and my husband and I sat in the dining room and drank wine on Halloween night waiting for kids who never showed up. We didn’t get one trick-or-treater. Not one.

Q: So how is this Halloween going to be different?

Lancaster: Halloween, I’m not really going to do this year. I’m on deadline for another book. It’s called, “I Regret Nothing.”

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