Kent, Debra 1952-
KENT, Debra 1952-
PERSONAL: Married; children: two.
ADDRESSES: Home—Bloomington, IN. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
(Editor) The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex: What You Must Know to Be Sexually Literate, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1990.
The Diary of V: The Affair, Warner Books (New York, NY) 2001.
The Diary of V: The Breakup, Warner Books (New York, NY) 2001.
The Diary of V: Happily Ever After, Warner Books (New York, NY) 2001.
Contributor of articles to magazines, including Mademoiselle, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Family Circle. Author of "Sex & the Body" column for Seventeen. Contributing editor, Working Mother.
ADAPTATIONS: The "Diary of V" series was adapted by Jeffrey Arch as a television series by NBC.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Contracted with Warner for two more books, not part of the "Diary of V" series.
SIDELIGHTS: As a veteran writer for women's magazines Debra Kent has explored the subjects of marriage, infidelity, sex, and family relationships for fifteen years. Her first work of fiction, The Diary of V: The Affair, is part comedy, part romance novel, as it follows the trials and titillations in the life of "V," an unhappily married psychotherapist living in the suburbs. The book, written as a series of journal entries, actually began in 1997 as a Web serial, or what Kent called a "weekly thing." In an online chat group associated with the iVillage Web site, Kent explained, "V got started when the editor of Redbook at the time, Kate White, called me and asked me if I would be interested in writing a weekly thing for Redbook's new Web site." The site,www.women.com, had been getting seven million visitors every month.
The novel has spawned two sequels, The Breakup and Happily Ever After?, prompting Grade A Entertainment, which produces the popular television shows The West Wing and Just Shoot Me, to option The Diary of V to NBC as a half-hour series. The pilot, about a woman trying to juggle her career and family, was written by Jeffrey Arch, who wrote the story for Sleepless in Seattle, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The original online version of The Diary of V differs slightly from the three print versions, which contain more complex plots, additional characters, and are "lighter and funnier and a bit more true to life," Kent explained. White, who first commissioned the electronic series, wrote in Cosmopolitan that she found each paperback "a delicious, funny, sexy, tantalizing page-turner." Kent "propels her heroine from crisis to crisis as relentlessly as any Victorian melodrama," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Romantic Times reviewer Gerry Benninger called the book a "well-written, ultramodern novel."
Comparisons to the 1998 novel Bridget Jones's Diary, by British writer Helen Fielding, were unavoidable, as format (diary entries) and tone (comedic self-loathing) are similar. Kent's series "seems to be the American take on Bridget Jones's Diary, if Bridget was older and a suburban housewife writing in her journal," wrote Patty Engelmann in Booklist, "but Kent's heroine definitely has a quirky charm of her own." Addelaide Hayes, writing for Bookreporter.com, found the "wrenchingly candid" quality of "V's" journal entries distinguishing.
Kent's writing is considered to be spare, immediate, and uncensored. An entry from the third book in the series reflects a debilitating self-scrutiny, which is a theme recurrent not only in V's life but in the lives of many of Kent's readers. The story of "V" resonates with its readers because of its humor in the face of very real, and often unspoken, anxieties. One such concern is money. "I paid my bills. I have nothing left over. I guess I won't be getting those miracle fat pills after all," wrote Kent of the now-divorced "V" in a chapter excerpt printed on Time Warner Bookmark. "I hate being broke, especially in this neighborhood."
Kent, a contributing editor for Working Mother, is married and lives with her husband and two children in Bloomington, Indiana. "I'm inspired by mid-life suburbia," admitted Kent in an iVillage chat. She, like her heroine, lives in a Midwestern college town. Only one of her characters, Diana, is "total invention," she explained. "Everyone else is inspired by real life people. I would like to add that Jungian psychologists would say that every character in this book represents some aspect of myself. I don't know if that's true or not. If it's true that's pretty scary but I suppose there is a little bit of Diana and all the others inside me."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 5, 2000, Don O'Briant, "Diary of V Expanding from Net to Paperback," p. D6.
Booklist, September 15, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Diary of V: Happily Ever After?, p. 204.
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2001, review of Diary of V: Happily Ever After?, p. 55.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com (December 31, 2001).
Fenn Focus,http://www.hbfenn.com/ (April 1, 2002).
iVillage,http://magazines.ivillage.com/redbook/ "Diary of V Chat with Author Debra Kent," (April 1, 2002).
Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (December 31, 2001).
Time Warner Bookmark,http://www.twbookmark.com (December 31, 2001).*