The Next Big Thing

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

When it comes to doing interviews, I am usually the one asking the questions, nodding, writing things down. So when two writer friends—Frances Lefkowitz, author of an amzing memoir, To Have Not and Michael David Lukas, author of the gorgeous novel, The Oracle of Stamboul—asked me to participate in The Next Big Thing, I felt relieved that the only research and planning I had to do was in my own brain.

I have a handful of “next big things”, including finishing a collection of essays, which features several stories from my column at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I also just finished a poetry chapbook and am working on some other fun things like a personal essay about my experience with the Genographic project with National Geographic. But I’m going to talk about some other things here: My book and my new column at The Rumpus.

1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?

Book: Some Places Worth Leaving

Column: (tentatively titled) Rock Out With Your Book Out


2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Book: I started mapping out the places (literal and metaphoric) where I’ve been and examining the reasons I left those places. It took on a life of its own… I have left a lot of places.

Column: By no stretch of the imagination am I a musician or expert in musical things, I am simply fascinated with and inspired by the intersection of music and literature and love to hear the influences of my favorite writers and musicians. Therefore, I take my interviewees shopping for music or books.


3. What genre does your book fall under?

Book: Essay, memoir (though I may fictionalize it for personal reasons)

Column: It will be in the music section


4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Book: Angelica Houston, Frances McDormand, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judi Dench, David Bowie, Forrest Whitaker, Gary Oldman, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Jason Segal—with Spike Lee, Werner Herzog and David O. Russel directing.

Column: (so far I’ve interviewed or have scheduled to interview these folks, so they can play themselves): Jolie Holland, Nick Flynn, Ariel Gore, Carla Kihlstedt, M. Ward, David J. (Haskins), etc…


5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Book: “Woman sorts out tangled web of her mind through mapping the bad decisions that eventually led to good decisions”

Column: “Woman makes desperate attempt to understand the inner workings of creativity and emotion”


6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Book: I’m not quite there yet.

Column: The Rumpus


7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

In progress!


8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Book: Anything involving small towns, big cities, domestic violence, addiction, abortion, travel, suicide, politics, mental illness, homelessness, single parenting, unrequited love and humor. Fun!

Column: Fishing With John but without the fish.


9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Book: I’ve had the story in me for 30 years and it keeps growing. If I don’t write it now, It will eat me alive.

Column: Constantly imagining soundtracks to books. I needed to investigate “real-life soundtracks”, I suppose.


10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If that hilarious synopsis in the genre section above (see #8) doesn’t lure the readers in, I don’t know what will!


Next week, check in on Joy Lanzendorfer to find out what is happening with her novel and follow Rad Dad Tomas Moniz to hear about his latest projects and collaborations. Joslyn Hamilton will share news about her current writing and cooking adventures and writer/journalist Leilani Clark might just have writing news and a new baby next week, too!