Are we surprised that Ann M. Martin loves I Love Lucy?…..or The Story of the Author of The Baby Sitter’s Club

I was so so so excited to find this book at my used book store! I thought it would be interesting…but man oh man was I wrong! Let me tell you a story, this one time I was watching E!’s True Hollywood Story and it was on Kirk Cameron. (I believe this was a maternity leave day). I realized that Kirk Cameron is the most boring mother effer to ever have a True Hollywood Story, as Ann M. Martin may be the most boring subject for a bio. Of course, this book was written with the BSC audience (i.e. young) in mind. So I’m sure she might actually be more interesting than is mentioned in this book. (For example, I have heard somewhere that she is gay. But I’m not saying she is, because I totally can’t confirm it. Or maybe I could confirm it using the magic of Google if I cared at all about whether or not AMM is gay, but I truly don’t. Gay is not scandalous.)

OK, So Ann Matthews Martin was born in 1955. She grew up in Princeton, NJ. Her dad was a cartoonist for The New Yorker, which I do have to admit is pretty awesome. Her mom was a stay at home mom. Ann had one younger sister, Jane. Ann’s best friend was Beth, who lived down the street. She had a very very very very ordinary 1950’s WASPish upbringing. But in the pictures her cartoonist dad totally looks like William H. Macy. I wish I had a working scanner so you all could see! Ann kicked ass in high school. Grade-wise that is….and as a general rule-follower. She never got into trouble. But she did get into Smith!

Here is the inspiration for my new poll question (off to the right…) At Smith, Ann was not a party type at all. She stayed in and studied hard. She had a double major of English and Education. She wanted to be a teacher. When she wasn’t studying, she was sewing or smocking (what the fuck is smocking???) or hanging out with her friends, one of whom is named Claudia, natch. OK, so when she and her friends would hang out, they would get into their long flannel Lanz nightgowns (what the fuck are Lanz nightgowns??) and watch Saturday Night Live and order pizza. And I have to quote this next part word for word because it made me laugh out loud, “If they were feeling truly wicked, they would all chip in and buy a half gallon of ice cream from Friendly’s. They’d call a taxi company and the driver would pick it up for them. Then one of them would run downstairs in her nightgown and pay for the ice cream and the cab fare.” OOOOOHHHHHH that is fuckin’ wicked Ann and friends!!!!

After college AMM got a job as a teacher at a school for developmentally disabled kids. But she left after a year and got a job in children’s publishing. Then she started working on her first YA book, Bummer Summer (I fucking loved that book!). It took about three years, but did get published by Scholastic. Then, in order, came Inside Out, Stage Fright, Me and Katie (The Pest), and With You & Without You. Finally she felt successful enough at writing to quit her publishing job and write full-time.

THEN her life changed. An editorial assistant at Scholastic had an idea for a series of books about teenage babysitters. She wasn’t a writer, but she chose Ann to do the writing. And our beloved BSC was born. Initially she was contracted for four books, and they were hoping to get an extension to twelve. That’s actually kind of funny to think that now!

So Kristy’s Great Idea was written, then published in August 1986. I must point out here that in August 1986, Ann M. Martin was 31 years old. I am now 31 years old. Realizing that at my age, Ann had published five books and was embarking on a journey that would make her RICH, made me feel like shit about myself. I mean, what the hell am I doing with my life???? Sure I love my husband and we have a great son, but career-wise I pretty much hate myself. But I digress.

Here’s a few random tidbits!

  • AMM writes longhand with a pen and pad of paper, because she doesn’t like “complicated” machines and mechanical devices. And yet, there is an ad in the back of the book for the BSC service on Prodigy, which includes a weekly column by AMM. Remember Prodigy??? This bio was published in 1993, by the way.
  • AMM decided to start the Little Sister series because Karen was always one of her favorite characters. Ummm….I’m sorry, what the fuck???? Karen sucks ass! She is the fucking Michelle goddamn Tanner of this series. HATE HATE HATE. Who likes Karen? Certainley no one reading this blog, am I correct? Yet, Karenphiles must be out there because well over a hundred Little Sister books were written.
  • There are ghostwriters for all the books after….oh I can’t remember which one. I remember my mom telling me about ghost writers for the BSC and Sweet Valley and I think a little part of me died on that day.
  • One of the more interesting things about AMM is that she fell out of a tree in 6th grade and ended up needing her spleen removed. Gross!
  • AMM was a total goody-goody, but really if my son grows up to be so bookish and rule following I definitely won’t complain.

And now, because I know you want it bad….here is a list of things from Ann’s life that can be found in the BSC series:

  • She had a cat named Tigger.
  • Her mom is named Edie.
  • She based Mimi’s death on her Granny’s death 😦
  • Her BFF Beth married a man named Perkins and has three girls, Myriah, Gabbie and Laura.
  • Karen’s game of Let’s All Come In was based on the game of Employment Office Ann and her sister Jane used to play.
  • She had a hamster named Frodo.
  • She went to the Jersey shore as a mother’s helper.
  • She started babysitting at 10 years old!!!! No I am not kidding. I always thought it was re-fucking-diculous that Mal and Jessi were sitters at 11. But I guess when you grow up in WASPville in the 50’s, ten is a reasonable age to begin babysitting.
  • She had a Kid Kit.
  • One year at the beach when Ann & Beth were 12, a foxy lifeguard flirted with them to get them to bring him lunch.
  • Sea City is based on a mixture of Avalon, NJ and Wildwood, NJ.
  • She has a MaryAnne’-ish sensitivity to the sun.
  • She like Marguerite Henry books
  • She has earrings that look like miniature cowboy boots.
  • She based the character of Mary Anne on herself. And Kristy is based on Beth, although we are told it is an exaggeration of Beth. So Beth isn’t actually a cult leader in training, I guess.
  • She overheard a five year old girl use the phrase ‘silly billy goo-goo’ in New York once, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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10 Responses to Are we surprised that Ann M. Martin loves I Love Lucy?…..or The Story of the Author of The Baby Sitter’s Club

  1. I love that silly-billy-goo-goo is based on reality. I wonder who that kid is…and if they recognized themselves.BTW, the nightgowns of which Ann speaks are the huge sacklike flannel beasts that cover you entirely from neck to ankles. (Uh, I have one, actually. Well, not a brand name one, but a big flannel garbage sack. Hideous, but SO WARM.)

  2. Those daredevils… sending a cabbie away with a pocketful of change!

  3. zanne says:

    That was interesting to read. I’m sure I would have loved reading about Ann’s life when I was younger.

  4. nikki says:

    If anyone is interested, you can see Lanz nightgowns and other Lanz pajamas at:http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/Shop/Organic/lanz-nightgowns.html;jsessionid=3E3F61F64ED79CAFC915DA9EC45FD687?dsp=30000&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=primary&Nty=0&keywordsearch=true&keyword=lanzThey look pretty hideous. And they are expensive to boot! I'll stick with old t-shirts and my husband's high school gym shorts, thanks.

  5. MaybeSomeday says:

    I always wondered what parts of BSC came from Ann’s life. Thank you!

  6. BananaBomb says:

    I never read this one, but I've sort of been looking for it. I may have to like actually order it from amazon or ebay. Eh, probably not. Ann's upbringing sounds pretty freaking boring. Sorry, that's all I can muster up. I think the ghostwriting started in the thirties, I wanna say #34 was the last one Ann actually wrote herself. And writing in longhand? Way to go, I couldn't do it. Greer over at Stoneybrookite (sorry, I don't know how to link in the comment-but there's a link on my blog) posted a link this spring that was pictures of Ann at home. I felt kinda stalkery looking at them. http://blog.stoneybrookite.org/2008/03/10/anns-house/ (I couldn't fit it all in the window, so if you C&P, make it all one line.) :p

  7. nikki says:

    OMG, Bananabomb, I just went to that link on Greer’s site. Awesome, but I know how you feel that it’s a little stalkery looking at those pictures. Still, the whole shelf of every BSC book in every language!! WANT!!!!

  8. colleenn says:

    “I must point out here that in August 1986, Ann M. Martin was 31 years old. I am now 31 years old. Realizing that at my age, Ann had published five books and was embarking on a journey that would make her RICH, made me feel like shit about myself.”-I’m only 26 (well, two months away from 27), and that makes me feel like a failure. She must’ve started publishing when she was younger than me in order to have five published by age 30. Thanks to Ann for making me feel inadequate at age 13 for not having a steady boyfriend and again at 26 for not having three book deals under my belt yet. 🙂

  9. Sara says:

    *shyly raises hand*

    I like Karen. She can be a pain in the butt and sometimes I do wanna give her a good smack for being selfish and bossy, but I can’t help liking her and her stupid antics. (Plus she’s a kid. BSC timeline standstill aside, she WILL eventually grow up!)

  10. Katie says:

    I can’t remember, what was the game let’s all come in? I had this book and I remember Ann’s life being so boring.

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