Dee Ernst was born Elizabeth Diane Ascoli in Newark, NJ. Her family moved to Morristown, NJ when she was still a toddler. She started writing stories on a battered Royal typewriter when she was about ten or twelve, and she graduated Morristown High School determined to pursue a career as a writer in some form or another (she considered advertising, but luckily came to her senses). Creative writing majors were hard to find in 1974, so she attended Marshall University as a journalism major. That wasn't working, so she tried Education, but that didn't quite work either. Several jobs and years later, staying home with a three-year-old and trying to figure out what to do when she grew up, Joan Hamburg on WOR radio in New York was interviewing someone who said if you wanted to know what to with your life, remember what you were playing when you were ten, and try to turn that into a career. Since Dee was writing stories at ten, she sat down and wrote her first novel. It went nowhere. Her second novel got her a terrific agent and upwards of fifteen rejection letters (She reread them all in preparation of this biography). Her third novel, Better Off Without Him, garnered even more rejection letters from a much higher caliber of editor. Undaunted, she self-published Better Off Without Him in October 2010. She is now waiting patiently for fame and fortune.
Interview with Dee:
Who are your favorite humor authors?
--I really enjoy Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry, but I love good fiction that's also funny, like Susan Isaacs. Jim Butcher’s Dresden is a real wise-ass. Neil Gaiman is very funny. Robert B. Parker had great one-liners.
How much of your humor is based on real life experiences?
--Luckily, I have a great life surrounded by people who don't take things too seriously, so I base lots of my humor from my real life. I have two daughters, and they are a constant source of laugh-out-loud inspiration.
Do you think being epublished allows you to try out new things you wouldn't be able to if you were traditionally published?
--Epublishing allowed me to publish the kind of book I wanted, the story I believed in. During the submission process to trad publishers, lots of suggestions were made, and I think that had I gone that route, I might have been pressured to make the kinds of changes that I would not have been comfortable with.
If a movie was made of one of your books, who would it star?
--I fantasize about a movie cast for Better Off Without Him all the time. I'd love Tea Leoni for Mona. Jon Hamm would be my perfect Ben. If Ben were a three-legged troll, Jon Hamm would still be perfect. Kim Catrall would be a great Patricia.
What should people expect from a Dee Ernst book?
--Readers should expect a journey. That's what I expect, to be taken someplace I haven't been before. Or taken to a familiar place, but with a new point of view. And always with a smile. Even a serious book should make you feel glad that you've read it.
If readers just judged your books by their covers, what hijinks would they miss out on?
--I think the cover of Better Off Without Him is true to the story. What readers may miss is the more serious side – this is about a divorce, after all.
What's the funniest part of your everyday life?
--I’m a bookseller at Barnes&Noble, and the funniest thing about my life is the people I meet every day. Believe me, there are some real interesting customers out there!
If The Onion wrote a headline about your life, what would it be?
--“Famed novelist arrested trying to impersonate college freshman – and failing”
If you weren't a humor author, what would you be doing with your life?
--Do you really think I’m making a living writing humorous books? Now THAT’S funny.
Why do you think there's so few humor books?
--Funny is hard. Nasty and snarky is easier, and right now, there’s a lot of nasty around. It’s also a generational thing - our parents laughed at things that we just roll our eyes at. I think it’s tough to write something that makes people laugh today that won’t make them cringe in a few years, and not many authors are foolish enough to put themselves out there.
What's next for your fans?
--I’m working on several things - a sequel to Better Off Without Him , a young adult, and a novel with an even more vintage heroine who’s dipping into the on-line dating pool.
Better Off Without Him (Romantic Comedy)