WBEZ | Writers http://www.wbez.org/tags/writers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 15 female TV writers you should know http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jordin="" of="" showtime="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jordin%20Althaus%3AShowtime.jpg" states="" the="" title="Diablo Cody on the set of her Showtime series &quot;The United States of Tara.&quot; (Jordin Althaus/Showtime)" united="" /></div><p>Headlines about women in television can be confusing and contradictory. Some say progress for female TV writers is moving at <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/wga-releases-annual-writing-report-and-women-make-small-progress" target="_blank">a snail&#39;s pace</a>, while others&nbsp;say 2013 is a great year to be a woman breaking into Hollywood&#39;s &quot;cigar-chomping&quot; <a href="http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/08/meet-the-women-who-run-your-favorite-movies-and-tv-shows#slide=1" target="_blank">boy&#39;s club</a>.</p><p>My take? We&#39;ve come a long way since Irma Kalish of &quot;All in the Family&quot; and Susan Harris of &quot;The Golden Girls&quot; first paved the road for women to be taken seriously as TV writers and showrunners, but we still have a long way to go.</p><p>The Hollywood Reporter&nbsp;just announced their&nbsp;annual list of Top 50 Showrunners, and only <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/the-hollywood-reporter-announced-the-top-50-showrunners" target="_blank">10 women</a> (many of them working in teams with men) made the cut.</p><p>Still, just a brief glance at the progress that&#39;s been made &ndash; from Chicago native Agnes Nixon creating the TV <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Nixon" target="_blank">soap opera</a>&nbsp;in 1968, to Tina Fey becoming the first female head writer at &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; in 1999, to Lena Dunham inspiring a million <a href="http://splitsider.com/2012/04/24-thinkpieces-about-girls/" target="_blank">Internet think pieces</a> with each zeitgeist-y episode of &quot;Girls&quot; &ndash; is enough to see that times are slowly but surely changing for the better.</p><p>And despite numerous sexist roadblocks that still need to be torn down (shows like &quot;Californication,&quot; and &quot;Veep&quot; <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/03/28/1787671/from-californication-to-veep-the-tv-shows-that-hired-no-women-or-writers-of-color-in-2011-2012/" target="_blank">did not employ a single female writer </a>during their 2011-2012 seasons), plenty of women in television are making waves by taking charge.&nbsp;</p><p>In no particular order, here are 15 groundbreaking female TV writers you should know:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Jenji Kohan</strong></p><p>Kohan started out writing for shows like &quot;Will and Grace,&quot; &quot;Gilmore Girls,&quot; and &quot;Sex and the City;&quot; and in 1997, won an Emmy Award as supervising producer of the HBO sketch comedy series &quot;Tracey Takes On...&quot; In 2005, Kohan become the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the dark comedy &quot;Weeds,&quot; starring Mary Louise Parker, which ran for eight seasons on Showtime. Today, Kohan is the co-creator and executive producer of the Netflix prison dramedy &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenji_Kohan" target="_blank">Orange is the New Black</a>,&quot; which is gearing up for a highly-anticipated Season 2.</p><p><strong>2. Elizabeth Meriwether</strong></p><p>Meriwether is a Yale University graduate who got her start as a playwright before transitioning to film and TV. She got her big break writing the screenplay for the 2011 film &quot;No Strings Attached,&quot;landing her a spot in &quot;<a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/liz-meriwether" target="_blank">The Fempire</a>&quot;&nbsp;next to fellow female screenwriters Dana Fox and Lorene Scafaria. Meriwether went on to write for the Adult Swim series &quot;Children&#39;s Hospital&quot; and is now the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of &quot;New Girl&quot; on Fox.</p><p><strong>3. Michelle Ashford</strong></p><p>Ashford has a long list of writing credits to her name, including two Emmy-winning television miniseries: 2008&#39;s &quot;John Adams&quot; and 2010&#39;s &quot;The Pacific.&quot; However, Ashford&#39;s most prominent role to date is as creator and showrunner of the new Showtime drama &quot;Masters of Sex,&quot; which premiered in September to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Sex" target="_blank">widespread critical acclaim</a> and has already been renewed for a second season in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Amy Sherman-Palladino</strong></p><p>Sherman-Palladino is best known for creating the whip-smart and heartwarming series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilmore_Girls" target="_blank">Gilmore Girls</a>,&quot; which debuted on The WB in 2000 and became a tentpole for the network. The show that would make huge stars of Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, and Melissa McCarthy later moved to WB&#39;s successor network The CW, where it ended after seven seasons in 2007. Sherman-Palladino went on to create the ballet dramedy &quot;Bunheads&quot; for ABC Family in 2012; but much to fans&#39; disappointment, the series was not renewed for a second season.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Nahnatcha Khan</strong></p><p>Khan has written and produced a slew of creative shows, from the Saturday morning cartoon series &quot;Pepper Ann&quot; to the Seth MacFarlane vehicle &quot;American Dad!&quot; In 2012, Khan created her own ABC sitcom called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Trust_the_B----_in_Apartment_23" target="_blank">Don&#39;t Trust the B---- in Apartment 3</a>,&quot; which, despite its questionable title, turned out to be a shining example of truly great yet underrated comedic television. Unfortunately, not enough viewers tuned in to watch James Van Der Beek play a hilarious washed-up version of himsef, and the show was cancelled after two seasons in January.</p><p><strong>6. Shonda Rhimes</strong></p><p>Rhimes is a Chicago native and graduate of Dartmouth College. She also is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the long-running ABC medical drama &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; and its shorter-lived spinoff &quot;Private Practice,&quot; as well as creator and showrunner of the current ABC smash hit &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandal_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Scandal</a>.&quot; To date, Rhimes is the first African-American &ndash; man or woman &ndash; to create and produce a top-rated, one-hour series that has run for more than one season. &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; is now in Season 10.</p><p><strong>7. Julie Plec</strong></p><p>Plec graduated from Northwestern University in 1994, and went on to write scripts for Wes Craven&#39;s (&quot;Scream&quot; and &quot;Cursed&quot;) and the ABC Family sci-fi series &quot;Kyle XY.&quot; Plec hit the television big leagues in 2009, when she co-created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vampire_Diaries" target="_blank">&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</a> with Kevin Williamson for The CW. The supernatural teen drama has become a domestic and international juggernaut, prompting Plec to create a spinoff called &quot;The Originals&quot; in 2013. Plec also co-created a third series for the CW this year: &quot;The Tomorrow People,&quot;&nbsp;based on the popular British science fiction TV series of the same name.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Liz Sarnoff</strong></p><p>Sarnoff got her start writing episodes of &quot;NYPD Blue&quot; and &quot;Crossing Jordan&quot; before joining the crew of &quot;Deadwood&quot; in 2004 as an executive story editor and writer for Season 1. The following year, Sarnoff joined the writing team of &quot;Lost&quot; in the series&#39; second season, and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for her work. She was promoted to co-executive producer of &quot;Lost&quot; for Season 5, and executive producer in the show&#39;s sixth and final season. In 2011, Sarnoff co-created the Fox series &quot;Alcatraz,&quot; an ambitious <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatraz_(TV_series)" target="_blank">J.J. Abrams-produced prison series</a> that lasted 13 episodes.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. Jane Espenson</strong></p><p>Espenson had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on &quot;Buffy the Vampire Slayer,&quot; followed by work on the sci-fi cult classic &quot;Battlestar Galactica&quot; and its prequel spinoff &quot;Caprica.&quot; In 2010, she wrote an episode of HBO&#39;s &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; and joined the writing staff for Season 4 of the British television program &quot;Torchwood.&quot; Espenson also has written episodes for Joss Whedon&#39;s &quot;Firefly,&quot; &quot;Angel,&quot; &quot;Tru Calling,&quot; and the ABC fairy tale series &quot;Once Upon a Time.&quot; Currently, Espenson is the co-creator, writer, and producer of a sitcom web series called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Husbands_(sitcom)" target="_blank">Husbands</a>,&quot; now in Season 3 on The CW Seed.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Mindy Kaling</strong></p><p>Kaling first joined NBC&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._TV_series)" target="_blank">The Office</a>&quot; as a writer at the age of 24, and as the only woman on a team of eight. She later took on the role of Kelly Kapoor, while still writing and directing episodes. In 2010, she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode &quot;Niagara.&quot; After &quot;The Office&quot; came to end earlier this year, Kaling became the first South Asian-American woman to create, write, and star in her own network television show: &quot;The Mindy Project,&quot; now in Season 2. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Ann Biderman</strong></p><p>Biderman won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series for an episode of the police procedural &quot;NYPD Blue,&quot; and went on to become the creator and executive producer of the &nbsp;NBC/TNT series &quot;Southland.&quot; Now, Biderman is the creator and showrunner of &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Donovan_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Ray Donovan</a>,&quot; a powerful crime drama on Showtime starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. A second season of &quot;Ray Donovan&quot; will air in 2014.</p><p><strong>12. Emily Kapneck</strong></p><p>Kapneck created the popular animated program &quot;As Told by Ginger,&quot; which ran on Nickelodeon from 2000-2009. She also has served as a consulting producer on NBC&#39;s &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot; and is currently the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the ABC sitcom &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburgatory" target="_blank">Suburgatory</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>13. Kay Cannon</strong></p><p>Cannon received her B.A. in Theatre from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill. and trained in improvisation at both The Second City and The I.O. Theater ( formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. She went on to write for the NBC series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Cannon" target="_blank">30 Rock</a>,&quot; winning three Writer&#39;s Guild of America Awards and later a Peabody Award in 2008 for her work on the show. Cannon also wrote the screenplay for the 2012 sleeper hit film &quot;Pitch Perfect.&quot;</p><p><strong>14. Issa Rae</strong></p><p>Rae is the creator of the YouTube comedy series &quot;<a href="http://www.issarae.com" target="_blank">The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl</a>,&quot; in addition to the vlog series &quot;Ratchetplace Theatre&quot; and a collaboration with Black&amp;Sexy TV called &quot;RoomieLoverFriends.&quot; A new comedy series for HBO, co-written with Larry Wilmore and starring Rae, is currently in development.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>15. Diablo Cody</strong></p><p>Cody may be best known for writing the 2007 indie film &quot;Juno,&quot; but the Chicago native also has found a great deal of success in television. She created &quot;The United States of Tara&quot; in 2009, an Emmy-Award winning drama starring Toni Collette that ran for three seasons on Showtime. Cody also has recently been tapped to create a new &quot;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/diablo-cody-and-josh-schwartz-are-developing-a-new,103923/" target="_blank">smart, sassy teen girl drama</a>&quot; for Fox, alongside &quot;The O.C.&quot; producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz.</p><p>To end this list: an adorable video of Amy Poehler interviewing her TV idol, pioneering comedy writer Irma Kalish:</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5seuoKvXvSc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 The Jory John and Avery Monsen Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-04/jory-john-and-avery-monsen-interview-98365 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/all%20my%20friends%202_flickr-phil%20king.jpg" style="height: 463px; width: 620px;" title="A page from John and Monsen's 'All My Friends Are Dead.' (Flickr/Phil King)" /></div><p>Avery Monsen is an actor, artist, and writer who lives in New York City. He performs frequently at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. You can follow him on Twitter at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/averymonsen">@averymonsen</a>. Jory John is a writer, editor, and journalist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You should follow him, too:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/joryjohn">@joryjohn.</a> Together, they co-wrote&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0811874559/ref=cm_sw_su_dp">All My Friends Are Dead</a></em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/All-Friends-Are-Still-Dead/dp/1452106967/ref=pd_sim_b_4"><em>All My Friends Are Still Dea</em>d</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Feel-Relatively-Neutral-About-York/dp/0811874567/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3"><em>I Feel Relatively Neutral About New Yor</em>k</a>,&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Log-Handbook-Aspiring-Swashbucklers/dp/0811864359/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_5">Pirate&#39;s Log: A Handbook For Aspiring Swashbucklers</a></em>,&nbsp;and the upcoming&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Knifeball-An-Alphabet-Terrible-Advice/dp/1452103313">K is for Knifeball</a></em>.&nbsp;In their spare time, they make t-shirts at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bigstonehead.net/">bigstonehead.net</a>.</p><div><strong>A lot of people seem to think writing for kids is easy. What have you found is the hardest part about writing for a young audience?&nbsp;</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:</strong>&nbsp;We definitely think of ourselves more as humor writers than children&#39;s book authors.&nbsp;When we published <em>All My Friends Are Dead</em>, we knew it was going to look like a&nbsp;children&#39;s&nbsp;book, but not necessarily read like one.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are all kinds of things in there that kids do seem to enjoy. It is illustrated, after all. And we&#39;ve heard from classrooms who have taken our idea and run with it and created their own little storybooks and such. But we&#39;d call most of what we do &quot;children&#39;s&nbsp;book for adults,&quot; whatever that means.&nbsp;Here&#39;s what it means: there&#39;s a little spread in <em>AMFAD</em> where a ventriloquist passionately kisses his dummy ... and you probably wouldn&#39;t see that in a <em>Berenstain Bears</em> book.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Our first Chronicle book, published back in 2008, was called <em>Pirate&#39;s Log: A Handbook For Aspiring Swashbucklers</em>, which is a writing and activity guide, and that was definitely intended as a&nbsp;children&#39;s&nbsp;book. But then we heard from our editor that adults seemed to be gravitating toward it and all the inside jokes that we tried to cram in there and it was kind of hazy who the intended audience was. We were all, &quot;Whoops!&quot;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY:</strong> With all that said, we do have a bunch of ideas for&nbsp;children&#39;s&nbsp;books. For example, we have a new one in the works called, <em>Puppeteer Making Out With His Puppet</em>. It&#39;s gonna get NAAAAASTY. But it still has heart, hopefully.&nbsp;Like, it&#39;s definitely raunchy but, in many ways, still very sweet and tender and strangely erotic. That&#39;s our newest children&#39;s book. Does that answer your question?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What were your favorite books when you were kids?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>I read tons of stuff by Shel Silverstein, James Thurber and a fantasy writer named Piers Anthony, who had this endless series of books where everybody got a different power. I also had a love for cartoonists and comics collections like <em>Calvin &amp; Hobbes</em> and <em>The Far Side</em> and <em>Peanuts</em>. I&#39;d say that <em>The Prehistory of The Far Side</em> influenced me as a kid more than any book I can remember. I loved having the comics there alongside Gary Larson&#39;s explanations. I should also point out that very little in my reading tastes have changed.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong>I read a lot of Roald Dahl when I was a kid. I especially loved <em>Matilda</em>. That book led to me trying to teach myself telekinesis from age 8 until today. So far: very little success.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>JORY:</strong> That&#39;s the same reason that I love John Travolta&#39;s <em>Phenomenon</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY:</strong> It&#39;s also the same reason I love John Travolta&#39;s <em>Face/Off</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>JORY:</strong>&nbsp;Claire, is this how you were hoping this interview would go?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>You&rsquo;ve thought way outside the box when it comes to publicizing your books. What are some of your favorite publicity moves by other authors?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>I remember hearing about some early Dave Eggers readings where, say, Vince Vaughn would suddenly stand up in the audience and ask a question. I thought that was great. I like when authors hold readings outside of traditional venues, too. McSweeney&#39;s is super creative about their approaches, sometimes involving food or music or just a cross-section of different types of writers and artists at one venue.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What&rsquo;s your favorite thing online lately, whether it&rsquo;s a gif, article, blog, facebook post?</strong></div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong><a href="http://i.imgur.com/i2wZM.gif">This</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>JORY: </strong><a href="http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/516980/2009.gif"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">This.</span></a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What did you differently for&nbsp;</strong><em><strong>All My Friends Are Still Dead</strong></em><strong>&nbsp;in terms of writing, illustrating, publicity?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>At first, we were actually going to go in a totally different direction. It was still going to be an illustrated book about death, etc., but not necessarily an <em>All My Friends</em> ... book.</div><div>Then, we reconsidered because we felt that we had plenty of ideas left that we didn&#39;t use in the first book. So there are some of the same characters, but there plenty of new ones, too.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Also, I think we felt like we could go a little bit further with the jokes. What&#39;s the point of doing a sequel if you don&#39;t go further? We were confident that if people liked that first one, they&#39;d want to see how far we could go with this. For example, there&#39;s an angel who pops up in the beginning of the book and admits that, out of boredom, he&#39;s going to go watch some living people showering. Later in the book, we return to him, peering down from a cloud ... just ... watching. Also, SPOILER ALERT: We kill everybody in the end.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY:</strong> We&#39;ll probably regret killing everyone off if Chronicle Books asks us to write a three-quel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Avery, who are some of your favorite illustrators?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:</strong>&nbsp;I&#39;ll go ahead and answer this one. Avery&#39;s favorite illustrators include both &quot;Painters of Light,&quot; J. M. W. Turner and Thomas Kincade. (Too soon?)&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY:</strong> I&#39;m a big fan of both light and painters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Explain this as if you were talking to my parents: What&rsquo;s Tumblr and how can you be the king of it?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:</strong>&nbsp;Tumblr is like that doily over there and we&#39;re like the tea cup sitting on top of that doily. (We figure your parents are really into teacups and doilies.) So, when somebody wants to get their teacup out to as many sub-doilies as possible, they put that cup on the main-doily that is Tumblr and hope like hell that it gets a bunch of reblogs. Avery?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong>The important thing to remember is that tea doesn&#39;t taste very good without sugar. Animated GIFs are the sugar of the internet, in the sense that they are delicious but also cause irreversible tooth decay. (We&#39;re so sorry about all this.)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What are some great book ideas that you haven&rsquo;t pulled off yet?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>We&#39;re interested in creating a book that also serves as a life-companion. Basically, a husband or a wife.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong>So far, the hardest part has been to make the book&#39;s texture mimic the feel of human flesh. Sidebar: Is this the most terrifying thing ever written on <a href="http://zulkey.com/">Zulkey.com</a>?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>I read that&nbsp;</strong><em><strong>All My Friends Are Dead&nbsp;</strong></em><strong>started off as a button: Were there any buttons you made that could conceivably become good books?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:</strong>&nbsp;You&#39;ve done your research, Zulkey! I remember two other button ideas that we created at the same time, neither of which would make a good book. One was a dog asking, &quot;Does anybody have any poo I could roll around in?&quot; The other was a half-apple/half-cat, which we named &quot;Apple-Cat.&quot; Those sold for a dollar, each.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong>Remember, though, that this was back in 2004. In today&#39;s currency, they were probably only worth about &cent;95.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em><strong>What&rsquo;s the last nonelectronic book either of you bought?</strong></em></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>Those are the only types of books I buy!&nbsp;The last one I purchased was an instructional manual called, <em>How to Make Electronic Books</em>. Good one, huh? If you want an honest answer, I bought a book of Hunter Thompson&#39;s letters, recently, which I&#39;m loving.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong>I just bought the <em>Hark! A Vagrant</em> book. Kate Beaton is the very best.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What&rsquo;s next that we can see from you?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>We have a book coming out this fall called <em>K is for Knifeball: An Alphabet of Terrible Advice</em>. It&#39;s illustrated and written in verse. Avery, you want to give them a stanza?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY: </strong>C is for cop with a big, shiny gun.</div><div>Sneak up and tickle him! That&#39;ll be fun!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>How does it feel to be the 310th and 311th people interviewed for&nbsp;<a href="http://zulkey.com/">Zulkey.com</a>/WBEZ?</strong></div><div><strong>JORY:&nbsp;</strong>As the 310th person interviewed, I&#39;m just glad I got in here before Avery.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>AVERY:</strong> I get the final word, though. And that last word is: doilies. (I should have chosen that last word more carefully.) And now the last word is: carefully.</div></p> Thu, 19 Apr 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-04/jory-john-and-avery-monsen-interview-98365 When (dead) writers Tweet: The art of concise imitation http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-30/when-dead-writers-tweet-art-concise-imitation-91315 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-31/Little House_Flickr_Susy Morris.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Twitter may seem like an annoying, hyperactive, self-important and cursory way to communicate, but you have to admit, it's addictive. And lately, it has become far more than a way to share your favorite VMA performance with 500 people at once (for the record: Beyonce baby bump!). Through Twitter, users have fomented revolutions, rallied around political candidates and broken news. Artists are also using the short format to express themselves: comedians use it as a wit stream, poets experiment with short verse and so on. But perhaps the most compelling use of Twitter comes from the performance artists — those users who take on new identities under the guise of an @ handle.</p><p>Among the new Twitter performers, the most popular seem to be those who have adopted the identities of famous authors, both living and dead. There is no pretense of reality in these imitations — it is a game, an inside joke — and people are really getting into it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, and who better to flatter via the written word than one's favorite writers? It only makes sense that Twitter, with its text-based delivery formula, would become fertile ground for literary mockingbirds.</p><p>One of the first (and most popular) of the faux-author accounts to pop up, out of the hundreds that exist now, was <a href="twitter.com/halfpintingalls">@halfpintingalls</a>, the "authentic" feed of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The user's bio read, "I was born in 1867 in a log cabin in the Big Woods of Wisconsin." Her tweets tapped into a deep nostalgia that members of the Twitter generation could easily relate to (many read the <em>Little House </em>books obsessively as children). She tweeted irreverently about prairie life, with updates like, "Curling your bangs with a slate pencil works pretty well. Giving yourself a pedicure with a spinning wheel? Not so much." and "Anyone know how to pry loose a hoopskirt stuck in a privy doorway?! Asking for a friend."</p><p>HalfPintIngalls turned out to be the alter ego of <a href="http://www.facebook.com/TheWilderLife">Wendy McClure</a>, whose book about Wilder, <em>The Wilder Life</em>, came out in April of this year. For McClure, playing Wilder was both book research and marketing scheme.</p><p>"It started for the same reason I have done anything on the Internet, which is just to amuse myself," said McClure when we caught up with her about her Twitter exploits. "HalfPint was a precursor to my book project, and it later became a testing ground for the kind of irreverence that <em>Little House </em>fans would put up with — turns out they all have a great sense of humor."</p><p>McClure says that she did not begin the account with subversive performance in mind. "I wouldn't go so far as to say it is art," she says. "It was just interesting to me. And I couldn't help but think that looking at the differences between the way we live now and the way they lived then, that you just have to do something absurd juxtaposed with modern technology."</p><p>@HalfPintIngalls did not lead McClure directly to her book deal (as several Twitter accounts have done for others, like <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/shitmydadsays">@sh*tmydadsays</a>), but she recognized the value of it when she was able to write <em>The Wilder Life. </em>"I didn't want to turn HalfPint into advertising for the book, but working on Twitter really helped me while I was writing to gauge the way people responded to her."</p><p>McClure is unique in that she is tweeting as Wilder at least semi-professionally, but most of the 140 character impersonators are not working with any kind of commercial imperative. They are simply trying to break down writers' iconic styles into 140 characters as a labor of love or comedy, often playing with the novelty of pairing an author's style with the technology of the modern age.</p><p>Some of the accounts are loving homages: See <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/bcollinspoetry">@billycollins</a>, <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/flanneryoconnor">@flanneryoconnor</a>, and <a href="twitter.com/borgesknowsbest">@borgesknowsbest</a>. Some are parodies: <a href="twitter.com/shakespearesays">@shakespearesays</a>, <a href="twitter.com/hemingsteen">@hemingsteen</a>. There's <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/InTheGreenLight">Fitzgerald</a>, <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/WilliamFalkner">Faulkner</a>, <a href="twitter.com/joandidion">Didion</a>. <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/NothingButDick">Melville</a>, <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/itssylviaplath">Plath</a>, <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/MrJDSalinger">Salinger</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/msdorothyparker">Dorothy Parker</a>.</p><p>For almost every author you can think of, someone is out there working a fake Twitter feed. It has become a club of obsession, a contest of one-upmanship based on insider knowledge of an author's tone, personal life, and historial era. The best accounts, like that of <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/DrSamuelJohnson">Samuel Johnson</a> are successful research projects as well as gags.</p><p>What do you think? Are we entering a new age of literary knowledge and scholarship, played out one tweet at a time? Or are you sick of all the fake accounts trading on the reputation of great longform writers? Tell us what you think of this new trend.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 14:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-30/when-dead-writers-tweet-art-concise-imitation-91315