She may have made her first mark on reality television as the runner-up on Martha Stewart’s Apprentice, but she quickly distinguished herself from the pack on The Real Housewives of New York City. Bethenny Frankel has become the first breakout star from that Bravo juggernaut to land her own series, Bethenny Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After..., which began airing this March. Here, the New York Times bestselling author talks to us about her third book, A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life.
When you barbecued that first version of this book on TV, did you know exactly what direction you wanted to take with this one?
Not exactly. I just didn’t feel that it was right. I’m kind of a perfectionist, and I don’t want to serve anything to anybody that doesn’t taste excellent, and I just felt that it wasn’t there. Also, when I had written it, I hadn’t had my baby or gotten married yet, so the perspective wasn’t there, the true perspective where I was in my life. It was excruciating to have to have to go back to the drawing board, but I did.
This book is different as well—it deals with more emotional, self-improvement issues versus healthy eating and nutrition.
I don’t like reading books that go on and on and tell stories and there are morals in there, then you put the book down and might not remember what those morals were. The book is a lot of stories and has a lot of biographical information, but only to illustrate what the takeaway is…they need to come away and say, “All roads lead to Rome,” or “I’m going to do everything to the best of my ability even though I don’t love the job because everything’s my business,” or “Come together. I’m going to get along with my in-laws because I’m going to come together.”
It’s very helpful if people can have a formulaic takeaway, and so it’s hard to combine that with emotion, and you know, biographical stories from your childhood, so that was a challenge. Structuring [the book] was a challenge, addressing what noise went with what rule was a challenge. I mean the whole thing was 50 times harder than my other books. It just felt like it would never end, like when you start cleaning out your garage, and you’re in the middle of it, and you just want to be like, “I don’t even care,” and yet you regroup, take a deep breath and take it one section at a time.
Which of your 10 rules is the hardest to follow for you?
Probably at the moment, come together…I’m always so in my work and I’m always around other people, at photo shoots, and the show portrays me now that I’m married to someone who has lots of friends and family, and he likes to be around people a lot. And coming together is about the sum being greater than the parts and doing things you don’t necessarily want to do because it’s great for your relationship, etc., but it’s hard for me because I like to do things my way, and I like to be alone and that kind of stuff.
Your ex says you used Housewives as therapy—but in your Bethenny shows you seem to reveal even more than you did on Housewives. How has your own show helped you evolve?
That’s a real moment in my life that he said that, and at the time, I actually thought, “Oh, no, maybe he’s right.” And I’ve learned a lot of my fans are therapy, they really are. They give me advice, they tell me things I don’t necessarily like, and I don’t want to hear, but a lot of times they’re right. So I feel kind of fortunate in a way that I’ve gotten to use the show as therapy, but at the same token, sometimes you want to get off the ride.
Now I have a responsibility to people just to completely bring it all and be honest, and it’s a big responsibility. [Sometimes] I want to be like all right, I want to go back to my private life, so it’s a mixed bag.
Is this the last season? Are you going to pull back?
I mean I would love to pull back, but I’m in business with Bravo, you know, business being the operative word, and they like the show and the show does very well for them. And I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of the message it sends to women, and it’s making people more open, and it’s really having an incredible effect. It’s just that I, my husband and I, just, we have our baby and we want more privacy, and I don’t know if I want a crew in my house, and I’ve been on television for six years now, so I’m getting a little tired. I’ll do it for a while, but I won’t do it forever.