To anyone who knows her, it’s no surprise that Andrea J. Stein, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week and career book publicist, made her lifelong dream of being a novelist come true. Though Andrea had always been serious about writing novels on and off for years, she realized if she wanted to change her status to published author, it was now or never. And her hard work paid off— the recently published Typecast is a smart and funny debut about the complexities of family, friendship, and adulting with rave reviews, including BuzzFeed, which just named the protagonist, Callie Dressler, one of the best main characters in a 2022 novel. We caught up with this talented Summit mom of two teen boys to find out why she didn’t follow this path sooner, how she differs from most first-time authors and the best indie bookstores in the state. (featured photo credit: Maricel Stoveken Photography)
Tell me a little bit about your family and background. I grew up in Springfield and lived in Hoboken when my husband of 24 years, David Naidu, and I were first married. We moved to Summit to raise our boys, Ravi, 17, and Kieran, who will be 15 on Christmas. It was important to me to be in the suburbs with a lawn and a home, and easy access to the train line. Over two years, David and I looked at more than 100 homes to find “the one,” and it was meant to be, as we’re still in that first home, even though we added onto it in 2010. There’s a lot to love about Summit—it’s a reasonably diverse town, the schools are great, and the people here look out for each other and help out when needed. Plus, the spirit of volunteerism is strong here. There are so many ways to get involved and support the community, whether it’s through the PTO, Junior League, or something else entirely.
What did you think you’d be doing when you grew up? Why did you decide to do this now? When I was young, I was a huge reader, and if someone had asked me what I was going to do when I grew up, I’d say I planned on being an author and an illustrator. I’ve always thought of myself as a novelist, never a short story writer–this book is the third novel I’ve written, but it’s the first I’ve sought to get published. When I went to college, I intended to major in creative writing, but I never even ended up taking a creative writing class because I was intimidated by the other students who were writers—I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own skin to share my own writing. I got a degree in Political Studies from Bard College and my Master’s in Government from Weill, Cornell, where I met my husband, David. I finally realized that I was not getting any younger, and if I wanted to be a published novelist, it was time to do everything in my power to make it happen. This has been a dream come true for me.
Was there anything in your career background or life that’s proven helpful to writing your novel? I’ve been a book publicist my entire career, but never for fiction. Even though there’s no overlap in the subject matter, doing this has helped me understand how to get media attention for my book. Working in public relations has made me willing to put myself out there and ask for things. Many first-time authors I’ve met are uncomfortable with the idea of having to sell themselves, but I’m not because I pretend that I’m my own client.
How supportive was your family while you were writing your book? My husband, David, has been so supportive. He’s a huge reader of news and political analysis, but as I was writing my fiction novel, he was happy to be my reader. Getting it published was a very long and challenging journey, but he also came up with some helpful suggestions. The kids think it’s pretty cool.
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you start this new career? I hope that they learn to stick with their dreams. If something is important to them, I hope they keep going for it, even if it’s hard and others tell them it can’t be done. My journey to getting published was tough and filled with some rejection, but I didn’t give up and made my lifelong dream come true.
What’s next for Andrea Stein, the novelist? I have two other books in the works. One is a follow-up to Typecast, but it takes place four years later, and the other is entirely different.
What advice do you have for someone looking to start writing a book? My first piece of advice is to sit down and write because it’s very easy to delay the writing process when you get caught up not knowing exactly where your book is going or when you feel like you need to do more research. Once you start putting words on “paper,” it opens up other avenues of thinking and easier to keep going. Another thing I’ve found to be important is to write every single day, even when you’re not feeling it. You’ll find that even if it doesn’t feel like you’re making much progress, you’ll still end up moving your story forward.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? I love supporting a good independent bookstore. The Town Book Store in Westfield, Words Book Store in Maplewood, and Thunder Road Books in Spring Lake are three favorites—they always seem to have books I want to read, and it’s always tough to narrow it down to purchasing just one. Also, Mondo, in Summit, is a real hidden gem. The owner, Annette, does an amazing job showcasing gorgeous art, jewelry, and other things from local artisans and artists.
Please share some places in NJ you and your family enjoy. Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton is such a beautiful outdoor space and so different from everything else. It’s ideal for a day trip and perfect for fun photo ops or just wandering around. We also like to hike Hacklebarney State Park, which is never too crowded and has such pretty scenery, and we always follow that up with a visit to Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJ Mompreneur just starting? You don’t have to have everything in place and know all the answers before starting. Yes, it’s important to be prepared and open to learning, but if you wait until you know everything 100%, you’ll probably never get started—sometimes, you just have to take the leap!