You might know her best as Jane Mancini, but since the end of Melrose Place, Josie Bissett has been one busy lady. The talented actress is in her fourth season on a new hit television series and this fall she’ll be joining Lifetime’s morning show, “The Balancing Act,” as a co-host. She’s also raising two kids (Mason, 12, and Maya, 9) as a single mom. And of course, in her spare time, she’s authored a best-selling series of children’s books.
Monster Best Sellers
In August 2008, Bissett published her first children’s book, the Tickle Monster. It comes complete with a set of “Tickle Mitts” – fluffy gloves that can instantly turn any grown-up into the title character. (Extra mitts are available through her website at http://josiebissett.com/) The inspiration for the book came to her one night when she was spontaneously tickling her then 2-year-old son. “The story really just flew out of my mouth,” she said. “And it was such a good idea, because it’s so universal. Everyone knows the Tickle Monster.”
Bissett’s main goal was to create a series that would bring parents and children together through interaction and reading, so she focused on creating an experience – rather than just a story.
“Sometimes, when I was reading to my son, I’d find myself thinking about all the things I had to do, you know, because moms are always juggling a million different things,” she said. “And I’d be reading to Mason, but sometimes I wouldn’t really be present. With these books, you’re so present, because you’re tickling [your kids] or you’re dancing with them – you are physically active and actively interacting in that moment.”
Now, Bissett has a new book on the shelves called Boogie Monster. Published in June 2011, it comes in a box set along with a pair of “Boogie Legs” furry legging, and a “Boogie Music CD” with rockin’ tunes from the local Seattle children’s band Recess Monkey.
She says that the greatest feedback she gets is how often kids want to read the books: “I think that kids love it because they have 100% of your attention during the time together.”
Secret Life of the American Teenager
Not only is Bissett a best-selling children’s book author, but you can also catch her on ABC Family Channel’s hit series, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” where she plays the mother of good girl Grace Bowman. The show, which is currently in its fourth season, is a teen pregnancy drama from the creators of 7th Heaven.
Bissett described what it’s like to play the mother of a teenager when her own children are both still pre-teens: “I can’t even imagine my kids going through what the kids go through on the show,” she said. “I guess, in a sense, it’s good that I’m preparing myself for what’s to come.”
She says she asked the actors if the show was really giving an accurate portrayal of high school, and they said yes.
“The thing I’ve learned the most from the show is that we really have no idea what’s going on in schools these days. You always think that your child isn’t going to be part of that – part of drugs, part of having sex to early. But already, my son has his cell phone attached to his hip and he’s texting all the time. Parents have to deal with these kind of things at much younger ages than before.”
Bissett is certainly a modern mom – she manages to balance a thriving acting career and her work as a writer with raising kids. Bissett is certainly a modern mom – she manages to balance a thriving acting career and her work as a writer with raising kids.
But she shared one piece of advice that she wishes someone had told her before she had kids:
“I wish I would’ve started their college fund the day they were born. I also wish that someone had told me to start them at a young age on a musical instrument and make them commit!”
Of course I had to sneak in a question about Melrose Place (I was absolutely addicted to that show growing up). I asked her if she missed it, to which she replied, “I do. I just had such a good time on that show. There never has been anything like it. But I do also have to say that “Secret Life,” is the best job I’ve ever had.”
And as far as future Monster books, Bissett is already working on the third. “It’s going to be a Munchie Monster that loves to eat healthy food.” she says. “It will teach kids where food comes from, and how to eat healthy, and there will be some recipes. It will come in the same type of box set, with a funky apron and funky kitchen tools.”
Sounds delightfully delicious!