WBEZ | Zulkey Interviews http://www.wbez.org/tags/zulkey-interviews Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en List: Bestelling books of 2012 from the Book Cellar that happened to be written by Zulkey.com interviewees http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/list-bestelling-books-2012-book-cellar-happened-be-written-zulkeycom <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/3549872467_98c3cce32b.jpg" style="height: 460px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Gillian Flynn at the Book Cellar. Flickr/Amy Guth" /><a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9780307595652">The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook</a> by <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2011/04/the_deb_perelman_interview.php">Deb Perelman</a><br />&nbsp;</div><p><a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9780525478812">The Fault In Our Stars</a> by <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/diary_archive_082903.html">John Green</a><br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9780307588364">Gone Girl</a> by <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2012/08/the_gillian_f.php">Gillian Flynn</a><br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9780142402511">Looking For Alaska</a> by <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/diary_archive_082903.html">John Green</a><br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9780307477477">Visit From the Goon Squad</a> by <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/diary_archive_092906.html">Jennifer Egan</a><br /><br /><a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9780451236685">If You Were Here</a> by <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2012/01/the_jen_lancaster_interview.php">Jen Lancaster</a><br /><br />You are welcome, authors and Book Cellar! I&rsquo;m happy to be solely responsible for your success.</p></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 08:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/list-bestelling-books-2012-book-cellar-happened-be-written-zulkeycom The DC Pierson Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/dc-pierson-interview-103245 <p><p>Today&rsquo;s interviewee wears many hats: Some may know&nbsp;DC Pierson for the popular stylings of his sketch comedy group <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/derrickcomedy">DERRICK</a>, the crew behind the movie <em><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMxEe2gnaQY">Mystery Team</a>;</em>&nbsp;others know him for his novel <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Couldnt-Sleep-Never-Vintage-Contemporaries/dp/0307474615/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top">The Boy Who Couldn&rsquo;t Sleep And Never Had To (</a></em>or <a href="http://digitallife.today.com/_news/2012/08/13/13260115-student-asks-internet-for-help-avoiding-book-gets-schooled-by-its-author?lite">the awesome response he posted online</a> to the youngster who didn&rsquo;t feel like reading the book). Lately he has been <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2272628/">acting</a> and writing <a href="http://dcpierson.tumblr.com/post/32244387256/ive-posted-the-latest-crap-kingdom-custom-rap-for">customized rap songs</a> for the pre-orderers of his <a href="http://amzn.to/OnJO53">newest book</a>. You can learn a whole lot more about him <a href="http://dcpierson.tumblr.com/">here</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DCPierson_fullres_ZXW-2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 450px; width: 300px; " title="(Photo courtesy DC Pierson)" /><strong>Your first book was about young adults but not technically classified YA. Your second book is being released as YA. Was there a difference writing the two, style and tone-wise?</strong><br />Even though both books are about the friendship between two teenage boys, there&#39;s absolutely a difference in tone. The first book was written from a first-person perspective, whereas the new one is written from a sort of wry third-person perspective, because I felt that was more in keeping with the genre of fantasy literature, a genre the book both belongs to and (gently) mocks.</p><p>The first [book], <em>The Boy Who Couldn&#39;t Sleep And Never Had To, </em>is&nbsp;the more &quot;adult&quot; of the two, though that term always makes me feel like I&#39;m saying the book should be sold in a brown paper wrapper in 1970s Times Square. It was often mistakenly classified as &quot;young adult&quot; despite the fact that it features, among other things, boobs, drug use, and swearing &mdash; three things I had varying degrees of experience with as a teenager myself, one very little, one not at all and one a TON (see if you can guess which is which, given the fact that I grew up to be a comedian instead of a globetrotting Lothario, or a . . . &nbsp;drug guy). It&#39;s a relief for people to say about this one &quot;It&#39;s about young adults &mdash; it must be young adult!&quot; because it is.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The new book is called <em>Crap Kingdom.</em>&nbsp;Did you get any &quot;crap&quot; from your publisher or publicists on whether the title might hinder sales in more conservative markets? If so, what were some other titles that were considered?</strong><br />I wouldn&#39;t say I got crap, per se, but there was definitely a lot of internal debate at my publisher as to whether librarians would be comfortable pushing a book called <em>Crap Kingdom </em>on children. To her immense credit, my editor, Kendra Levin, was a big advocate for the title of the book and I think we&#39;re now all on the same page that. While there may be the occasional conservative (I like to imagine, old-fashioned Shaker) parent who has a problem with the title, there will be just as many kids who are attracted to the book because the title features a relatively mild sort-of swear.&nbsp;In the darkest hours of the title discussion, I threw out the idea of calling it <em>Epic Fail</em>. It&#39;s cute but I&#39;m really glad Kendra fought for the original title and her bosses backed her up.</p><p><strong>In another interview you said that the experience your comedy partner <a href="https://twitter.com/DonaldGlover">Donald Glover </a>had writing for <em>30 Rock </em>helped you write <em>Mystery Team.</em>&nbsp;What specific lessons did you apply to the movie?</strong><br />Donald&#39;s co-workers were obsessed with making every joke as funny as it could possibly be on the page, as opposed to writing down the first relatively funny thing that came to mind and relying on the actors to &quot;sell&quot; it in performance. This point of view, which led to many tedious midnight-oil-burning hours rocking back and forth in computer chairs trying to think if there was a funnier specific than &quot;vomit-shark&quot; on our part, really benefited us in a number of ways. We were making a movie completely independently, with very little time and very little money. On the production end, we were all wearing a number of hats. If we&#39;d had to do all of the things we had to do every day to move the rock of the production up the hill in addition to being there, on set, in the moment, trying to figure out a way to make the jokes decent, we would&#39;ve ended up with a very mediocre movie, in all likelihood, instead of one that we&#39;re all extremely proud of.</p><p><strong>What are some of your personal favorite Derrick Comedy &quot;deep cuts&quot;&nbsp;</strong><strong>&mdash;</strong><strong>&nbsp; videos that might have flown a bit under the radar?&nbsp;</strong><br /><a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=wqxr+the+wolf&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;ved=0CDAQtwIwAw&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOMrdAr7fNjo&amp;ei=I5N_UKjDKqn5igLIuoCwAg&amp;usg=AFQjCNHvdIJ8JKI3dgJmurU_fnZUlWhqOA">WQXR The Cool Breeze</a>. Donald and I play morning radio DJs trapped in our station by a hyper-intelligent wolf. We slowly come to grasp the scope of the wolf&#39;s demonic designs, all while playing the hits of the &#39;70s, &#39;80s, &#39;90s and today. Donald&#39;s read on &quot;I was flippin&#39; through the Necronomicon&quot; is tremendous.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Including <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9EBcNEKkcY">commercials</a>, what have been some of your favorite non-comedy roles?</strong><br />I&#39;d say almost all of the roles I&#39;ve played have been in some way comedic. But I was recently in an indie movie called <em><a href="http://www.grassrootsthefilm.com/">Grassroots</a></em>, which I think is coming to Netflix soon. In addition to playing a stoned goofball, I got to play a stoned goofball REACTING TO THE EVENTS OF 9/11. I made a choice to be shell-shocked and teary-eyed, a departure from what I did on the actual morning of 9/11, which was to be shell-shocked, teary-eyed and go down to the drama room to be with &quot;my people&quot; (I was a sophomore in high school). I&#39;m proud of what I got to do in the movie and I&#39;m excited for people to see it.</p><p><strong>What program or old-timey materials do you write on when it comes to fiction, scripts and blogging?</strong><br />I write ideas, stand-up set-lists and puns down in a Moleskine I have on me at all times. I KNOW. For fiction, previously I used Microsoft Word but have skipped to Pages for Mac. For screenwriting, [I use] Final Draft, the best bad screenwriting software there is. Recently I began using Scrivener for outlining a screenwriting project, and will probably use it to outline my next book &mdash; it&#39;s worth every penny.</p><p><strong>How do you divide your writing time? Do you give each genre its own time per day or do you devote a day to writing books, a day to scripts and so on?</strong><br />Right now I pretty much stick to one writing project at a time. A bunch of things will sometimes intercede on that writing time, including auditions for acting stuff. I&#39;ve also written for a lot of award shows in the past few years, so that will sometimes place a month-long hiatus in an otherwise relatively forward-moving writing project.&nbsp;</p><p>For the past few years I&#39;ve been working with Dan [Eckman] and Meggie [McFadden] from DERRICK on adapting my first book into a feature film script. We&#39;ll hopefully complete our latest draft by the end of the year. When we&#39;re done, God willing, I&#39;ll start the next (grown-up) novel.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s a site, comedy group, show or person that you take comfort in for its ability to make you laugh reliably?</strong><a href="http://www.avclub.com/podcasts/the-best-show-on-wfmu-with-tom-scharpling,43/"><br /><em>THE BEST SHOW ON WFMU</em></a>, hosted and masterminded by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-11-11/tom-scharpling-interview-93958">Tom Scharpling</a>&nbsp;and ably assisted by his genius comedy partner/one of the best drummers in rock, Jon Wurster, is, I think, my favorite piece of continuing entertainment on the planet. I was turned onto it my first, and most miserable, year in Los Angeles, and, as most first time listeners do, I had 90 minutes of not getting it AT ALL. Then it snapped into focus and has since provided me with countless hours of joy. It&#39;s so, so good. I can&#39;t recommend it enough, to anyone. I have limitless respect for Tom as a comedian, artist and human being. The more you listen, the more wonderful it gets, and there&#39;s so, so much of it to listen to.</p><p><strong>I read an interview with you where you said that you wrote your first novel partially out of a sense of competition when a friend of yours said that so many people claim they can write books but never do. You&rsquo;ve accomplished a lot as a writer, performer and director, so how do you keep that competitive spirit alive? Or do you rely on other means of motivation once you can say, &ldquo;OK, I wrote the book,&rdquo; or, &ldquo;OK, I put out a movie&rdquo;?</strong><br />My sense of competitive fire is, right now, kept alive in large part by plain ol&#39; trying to get by: It is really, really hard to make money in any creative endeavor. So the pure motivation of &quot;If I don&#39;t chase down all these different things all at once, I don&#39;t know if there will be rent or food or cell-phone-keeping-on money&quot; definitely helps. That said, I could have made different choices, like going after a staff writing job on a TV show, or other avenues that allow creative people to settle into relatively (and in some cases, indisputably) comfortable existences. I haven&#39;t, on purpose, because when I &quot;make it&quot; (note: none of us know exactly what &quot;making it&quot; looks like and I assume that once I achieve my current vague notion of what it is to &quot;make it&quot; the specter of &quot;making it&quot; will swirl and transmogrify into something every bit as alluring and unattainable as whatever my old idea of &quot;making it&quot; was that I finally achieved after much toil and many podcast appearances) I want to have &quot;made it&quot; as myself. I want my name to be associated with a certain kind of cultural output. That is to say, cultural output that features both cyborgs and sexual awkwardness. I feel, maybe misguidedly, that those other things that would, right now, afford me a degree of comfort and stability, would also take away time from all the other things I want to do. And that may change at some point.</p><p>Guided By Voices&#39; latest post-reunion album is called <em>Class Clown Spots A UFO</em>. This is hyper-pretentious, but I saw that album title and went, &quot;Oh, sh*t, that is the phrase I want anyone to be able to use to describe my career.&quot;</p><p>Also: I listen to a ton of rap music about waking up, getting money and being awesome. That helps a lot.</p><p><strong>As a person whose in-laws live in Phoenix and is always looking for fun stuff to do when in town, I&#39;d love to know: What do you do when you go home?</strong><br />I hang out a bunch with my family. I used to hang out with a lot of my friends that had stayed in Phoenix, but many of my closest friends now live in other places. So I guess what I&#39;m saying, Claire, is you should hang out with my family (they&#39;re great) but you can&#39;t hang out with Chuck or Trevor because they now live in New York and Colorado, respectively. Also: <a href="http://www.filibertos.com/">Filiberto&#39;s</a> has great trashy burritos.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s it like to be a IV? Do you feel pressure to keep the ball rolling with a V eventually or you prefer to break the name cycle?</strong><br />No question that if I have a firstborn son, there will be a Five. I think it&#39;s more fun to work with in a pre-existing tradition and have whatever we end up calling him be an interesting riff on what the previous four of us have been called. Also: Can you imagine being fathered by a person who thinks in these terms? Who wants your name to be an &quot;interesting riff?&quot; My God. Poor kid.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s your <a href="http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.emcblue.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/fullsize_5.jpg&amp;imgrefurl=http://www.emcblue.com/2012/02/dc-pierson-profile-title-pending/&amp;h=151&amp;w=251&amp;sz=31&amp;tbnid=HwxJdhPzWOMcaM:&amp;tbnh=90&amp;tbnw=150&amp;zoom=1&amp;usg=__J2OSx_VIPryEBcsz1bvaTBfzfN4=&amp;docid=1L4wvG-iaiHggM&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=ZFOAUKD4OPKLyAGQ7ICoAg&amp;ved=0CDQQ9QEwBQ&amp;dur=282">hair</a>-<a href="http://splitsider.com/2012/08/pre-order-dc-piersons-new-book-now-and-hell-rap-about-you/">care</a> <a href="http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mbdn6dhtcw1qbzdzno1_500.jpg&amp;imgrefurl=http://mydamnchannel.tumblr.com/post/32878419380/today-on-mydamnchannellive-dc-pierson-1-3-of&amp;h=500&amp;w=500&amp;sz=162&amp;tbnid=NA7Bp4znF9BvnM:&amp;tbnh=92&amp;tbnw=92&amp;zoom=1&amp;usg=__Oeha_4OQ5nwseZDT-E0T3hsipAQ=&amp;docid=zbe-jufRZLXxXM&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=ZFOAUKD4OPKLyAGQ7ICoAg&amp;ved=0CC4Q9QEwAw&amp;dur=392">regimen</a></strong>?<br />My girlfriend recently turned me onto a shampoo called Shampure. It&#39;s made by Aveda. She uses it, I use it &mdash;&nbsp;sh*t is adorable. I wash my hair about once a week. Around three or four days in I start wearing a beanie, because by that time, my hair has come to resemble an abandoned fairground. It doesn&#39;t look quite so bad with the beanie on, though. If I have an audition where it doesn&#39;t seem like the character would necessarily be wearing a beanie over their &quot;middle of <em>Charlotte&#39;s Web</em>&quot; hair, I&#39;ll throw in a mid-week hair wash, as necessary. I&#39;m going to cut it soon, I swear. Many inches of its length can be chalked up to stubbornness, most of the rest to laziness, the final inch or two to the fact that my dad listened to a lot of Allman Brothers when I was growing up so I kinda think that sh*t is COOL.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 330th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />A thrill. I think Interviewee 331st will be hard-pressed to match me for aimless parenthetical digressions and for pure flakiness when it comes to getting you your answers on time.</p><p>I had fun, though.</p></p> Fri, 19 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/dc-pierson-interview-103245 The Kelly O'Connor McNees Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/kelly-oconnor-mcnees-interview-103071 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KellyAuthor%20%283%20of%2032%29.jpg" style="height: 579px; width: 620px; " title="Kelly O'Connor McNees (Photo by Kate Emerson)" /></p><p>Today&rsquo;s interviewee is a Chicago author, teacher and editor who is celebrating the recent release of her second historical novel.&nbsp;<em><a href="http://kellyoconnormcnees.com/books/in-need-of-a-good-wife">In Need of a Good Wife</a></em>&nbsp;tells the story of mid-19th century mail-order brides who are shipped off to Nebraska, and follows up on&nbsp;<em><a href="http://kellyoconnormcnees.com/books/the-lost-summer-of-louisa-may-alcott">The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott</a>.&nbsp;</em>Kelly brought me Taco Bell Doritos&reg; Tacos Loco shortly after my son was born, so she is also my hero. You can learn much more about her, and find information about her readings and appearances,&nbsp;<a href="http://kellyoconnormcnees.com/">here</a>.</p><p><strong>Which of your two books was more difficult to write and edit?</strong><br />They were both hard in different ways. With the first novel, I was writing it for myself alone, at my own pace, with no hope that it would ever be published. I was afraid to tell anyone I was doing it &mdash; it seemed like such a ridiculous thing for a person to attempt, as if I were trying to build a hovercraft in my garage. So it was hard to keep going sometimes. The second time around, I had a little more faith that things would work out, but I had to write it much faster and with the sense that people were looking over my shoulder. I&rsquo;m thinking the seventh novel or so is probably where it&rsquo;s at. I&rsquo;ll let you know.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s a historical period you&rsquo;d love to write about?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve been on this 19th century kick (my next book is set in 1835), but 1920s Chicago seems like it could be fun. In general I find a good strategy for fixing a boring scene in any work-in-progress is to take away the characters&rsquo; booze and see what happens.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the difference between good and bad historical fiction?</strong><br />Bad historical fiction happens when an author decides to &ldquo;teach&rdquo; readers about a particular period or historical event, or when he feels he must prove how much research he did by including a massive amount of historical detail that is irrelevant to the story. If you are writing a novel, your job is to tell a story. You might set that story in the past, or that story might be inspired by a real person or event, but researching till the cows come home will not give you a novel on its own. Good historical fiction evokes an era&mdash;its zeitgeist, its particular food and clothing, perhaps&mdash;but, as in all good fiction, the narrative must be driven by well-developed characters who are in trouble.</p><p><strong>What are some of the most fun ways you&rsquo;ve researched your books?</strong><br />Most of the research involves locating books that are out of print. I am going to nerd out here and say that I totally love how it takes 15 minutes to take the escalator to the upper floors at the Harold Washington Library, because you get to read all the quotes on the walls that remind you why well-funded public libraries are absolutely crucial to a democracy. You feel you are on a mission, like you are participating in something. Of course, many historical societies and libraries have digitized texts, and you can find them online very easily. This saves a lot of time, but you don&rsquo;t really get to feel as virtuous.</p><p><strong>If you ordered a bride by mail, what qualities would you want her to possess?</strong><br />I would like her to be good with children, particularly babies; be willing to get up for all night feedings; change diapers, do laundry, cook, grocery shop and vacuum. Oh, wait &mdash; that&rsquo;s the maid/cook/live-in nanny I&rsquo;ve been meaning to get from the Imaginary Store where they don&rsquo;t cost anything.</p><p><strong>What advice do you have for writers with new babies on how to find the time and the brainpower to write?</strong><br />Live-in maid/nanny. Seriously, I think that you just have to accept that there is going to be a lot of crying (mostly your own) and a lot of stress and exhaustion and insatiable hunger and rage and laundry, but also tremendous love and exhilaration, and all of that fuels your writing in the long run. It&rsquo;s just that in the short run it is going to be a miracle if you get a couple sentences down. So keep your expectations low, and go easy on yourself. I&rsquo;d happily lie down in traffic for my daughter, but I&rsquo;d probably do it with slightly more enthusiasm if she would consider sleeping through the night sometime soon. Someday (I&rsquo;m told) the world will right itself again.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wordbirdedits.com/Home.html">You help other writers with their manuscripts and query letters.</a> At what point in your career did you realize that you could help other writers with their books?</strong><br />I worked as an editorial assistant and then a freelance copyeditor (while doing other jobs too) and through the work learned some things about how books can be put together, what makes a book work, and how to figure out what&rsquo;s wrong with a book that isn&rsquo;t working. I am also a voracious reader and a writer myself who thinks about these things all day long. In days gone by, writers found agents and the two of them worked together to hone just the right project for submission. But now agents are so busy that most of them feel a project must be close to perfect before they will take it on. That developmental work interests me. I should say too that not all the writers I work with are pursuing traditional publishing. Some just love to write and want to improve their craft. Some will self-publish or publish with a small press. There are many more options now than ever before. For my purposes, the end goal doesn&rsquo;t really matter. It&rsquo;s the work itself.</p><p><strong>Of the characters you&rsquo;ve written, which do you think you&rsquo;d dislike most if they were a real life person?</strong><br />Well, Bronson Alcott would be kind of a drag to live with. He didn&rsquo;t drink and he was a vegan. He didn&rsquo;t even eat root vegetables because he was afraid a few worms might get killed in the process of digging them out of the soil. Which means he would probably be cowering in the corner sipping tepid water or something while I had to kill those giant centipedes we have in Rogers Park. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scutigera_coleoptrata">Do you know the ones I&rsquo;m talking about</a>?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Are there any everyday practical applications that come from being&nbsp;married to <a href="http://jacobi.luc.edu/">a physicist</a>?</strong><br />Well, he gets all the jokes on <em>Futurama</em>, so there&rsquo;s that. He also once engaged in a physics/math throwdown to prove to our landlord that it was impossible our electric bill had doubled in one month. Our rent was supposed to include utilities, but the guy was trying to pass on an increase he claimed was caused by the fact that in the fall the water in the pipes is colder, and therefore the water heater uses more energy to heat it up. Bonkers, right? My husband wasn&rsquo;t having it. He did the calculations and mailed them in with the rent check because, as he says, &ldquo;the thermal properties of water are well established.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>What was your first rejection letter for?</strong><br />This is a sad story, actually. When I was in middle school, a kid in my class was shot and killed when he was mistaken for his father, who was a heroin dealer. The kid was the class clown &mdash; we weren&rsquo;t close friends or anything, but everybody loved him, and it was deeply upsetting when, one day, he just wasn&rsquo;t there anymore. But since I wasn&rsquo;t close with him, it didn&rsquo;t seem appropriate that I should feel grief, exactly. So I didn&rsquo;t know what to do with what I felt, and that led me to write an essay about it. And submit it to the fiction editor at <em>Seventeen</em>, who said, &ldquo;This is not fiction!&rdquo; Which is how I learned to follow submission guidelines.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 329th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Like I&rsquo;ve placed some serious pressure on #330.</p></p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/kelly-oconnor-mcnees-interview-103071 The Steve Edwards Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/steve-edwards-interview-102707 <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/SEdwards_120127_034%20b.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px; " title="Steve Edwards, formerly of WBEZ " /></div><p>I was very sad to learn that today&#39;s interviewee would be leaving WBEZ. Steve Edwards was the first person to ever interview me at the station. His good nature and professionalism made me, and I&#39;m sure many others, feel comfortable on-air. After over a dozen years with the station and a stint as the host of <em>The Afternoon Shift</em>, last week Edwards took his leave to work at the University of Chicago&#39;s new Institute of Politics.</p><p>Edwards&rsquo; reports and interviews have been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Chicago Headline Club, the RTNDA, the Associated Press, UPI and Public Radio News Directors, Inc., and he earned a National Headliner Club&#39;s Grand Award for radio.</p><p>I got a little help from Steve&#39;s former colleagues, who will miss him, for some of the &quot;deep cut&quot; questions.</p><p><strong>Your new job sounds very professional but a little confusing to the sleep-deprived. What will you be doing there, in layman&rsquo;s terms?</strong><br />Well, the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Institute of Politics is modeled after a similar institute at Harvard, which was established in honor of President John F. Kennedy to &ldquo;promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the worlds of politics and public affairs.&rdquo; As Deputy Director, Programming, I&rsquo;ll help create public programming across multiple platforms; opportunities for students to become engaged in politics and public service; and a program for visiting fellows &ndash; elected officials, journalists, policy-makers, and the like &ndash; to come to Chicago for an academic term to interact with students, faculty and the public around the important issues of our time.</p><p><strong>As a listener and a guest I&rsquo;ve always enjoyed how professional and prepared you are on-air. That said, can you describe a moment or two when you found yourself completely caught off-guard on-air?</strong><br />There are too many to count, but the one that comes most immediately to mind happened on my very last episode of <em>The Afternoon Shift</em>. Usually, my colleague, Melba Lara, tosses back to me between the 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. hours by saying &ldquo;Hour two of <em>The Afternoon Shift</em> is just ahead. Steve, what&rsquo;s coming up?&rdquo; And then I tell her.&nbsp; At least that&rsquo;s the idea. And the thing is, because we&rsquo;re in separate studios, Melba and I can&rsquo;t see each other. So, you have to trust that the other person is actually there &ndash; and paying attention &ndash; which I wasn&rsquo;t on this day. I&rsquo;d absent-mindedly stepped out of the studio to introduce myself to filmmaker Andy Wachowski before <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-153-steve-edwards-exits-the-matri">our upcoming interview</a>, so when Melba asked me what&rsquo;s coming up next&hellip;there was dead silence on-air. Our director/producer Jason Marck then jumped in to save the day, joking that I&rsquo;d had enough and decided to quit on the spot. And I came racing back, out of breath, and blurted something incomprehensible.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What accomplishments are you proudest of as a journalist?</strong><br />Most of all, I hope I&rsquo;ve been able to share a few stories and conversations that have deepened our understanding of the world around us, and, as poet Sonia Sanchez <a href="http://soundcloud.com/wbez/afternoon-shift-147-i">put it so well during a recent interview</a>, our understanding of what it means to be human.&nbsp;Then again, a longtime colleague did tell me recently that she thought the single best moment in my career was the WBEZ pledge drive video where I jumped in the lake, fully clothed.</p><p><strong>What tips do you have for other hosts and journalists on how to quickly prepare for an interview?</strong><br />Ask short, focused questions. And listen relentlessly.</p><p><strong>As a journalist, what do you like best about Chicago politics?</strong><br />The fact that it closely resembles a dastardly family melodrama.</p><p><strong>As a resident, what do you like least about it?</strong><br />The fact that it too often serves self-interests rather than the public interest.</p><p><strong>Aside from NPR, what radio stations/podcasts do you most enjoy listening to?</strong><br />I&rsquo;m an omnivore when it comes to audio. I listen to all the AM talk stations, sports radio, WFMT, WDCB, XRT, B96 and V103. I&rsquo;m a huge fan of the shows <em>Tonic</em> and <em>The Signal</em> on CBC Radio 2 and podcasts like <em><a href="http://www.wtfpod.com/">WTF</a></em> and<a href="http://loveandradio.org/"> <em>Love &amp; Radio</em></a>, among others. I also love late night college radio, where you can often find some great extended DJ sets.</p><p><strong>What do you listen to with your kids in the car?</strong><br />Most of the above &ndash; plus lots of our own music. I&rsquo;m not big on the &ldquo;kids music&rdquo; thing, per se. I think great music is great music, regardless of genre or life stage.</p><p><strong>Speaking of your kids, we had fun chatting about <em>American Idol </em>this summer, which we both watched. What else do you watch with your kids?</strong><br />Well, I have younger kids, so<em> Idol </em>was in a class by itself in terms of family watching, though followed closely at times by <em>The Voice </em>and <em>So You Think You Can Dance</em>? (I do, but I can&rsquo;t). My kids are also waaaaayyy into PBS, not just PBS kids, but real PBS &ndash; you know, like, <em>America&rsquo;s Test Kitchen</em> and <em>Chicago Tonight.</em>&nbsp;In fact, he&rsquo;ll hate that I&rsquo;m telling you this, but my son, William, used to stand in front of a mirror at the age of 3 pretending he was <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/about">Phil Ponce</a>. I&rsquo;ve since tried to introduce him to the <em>Real Housewives</em> franchise as well, but without success.</p><p><strong>I&rsquo;ve been asked by NPR listeners whether you look like your voice (I said yes). Have you received any weird comments over the years from listeners who met you in real life who commented on the face/voice correlation?</strong><br />Thankfully, no. I think they save those for behind my back.</p><p><strong>What will you miss most and least about working at Navy Pier?</strong><br />Most: Watching the changing of the seasons via the Lake.<br />Least: Watching the changing of the seasons via the tourists.</p><p><strong>What was your favorite pledge drive giveaway?</strong><br />Hmmm. That&rsquo;s a good one. That Tivoli radio really is amazing, though it&rsquo;s a bit pricey for some. And I&rsquo;m always a sucker for the magazine combos. Oh &ndash; and that free Chipotle burrito coupon they used to give out on certain days? That rocked.</p><p><strong>What celebrity gossip magazines do you read? If one were to set up a celebrity gossip fantasy league, how would that work?</strong><br />Ha! You&rsquo;ve done your research, Zulkey. Nice. <em>US Weekly</em>, of course, <strong>is</strong> the gold standard. And as a former player in such a league, I can safely say that I definitely don&rsquo;t read it enough. We &quot;drafted&quot; celebs and received points based on where and how often the members of your &quot;team&quot; appeared in the magazine. My wife, Andrea, and I played for one year and got spanked. It wasn&rsquo;t even funny. People were trading for celebrities we hadn&rsquo;t even heard of. To give you an idea of how outclassed we were, I gambled big that 2007 was going to be Whitney Houston&rsquo;s comeback year.</p><p><strong>Who is your favorite rock drummer and what&rsquo;s your favorite song to drum to?</strong><br />Favorite rock drummer? Probably either Stewart Copeland of The Police or John McEntire of The Sea and Cake and Tortoise. Favorite song is too hard. &quot;Tom Sawyer&quot; by Rush would be the classic answer here, but I can&rsquo;t stand it.</p><p><strong>Tell me about the time you got into a fight on a party boat whilst in college. Did you win?</strong><br />Damn, you&rsquo;re good! Who is your source on this stuff? Short answer: No. Long answer, I escaped by a TKO. The story is too long to recount here, but for the record, I simply stepped in &ndash; quite chivalrously, I might add &ndash; to defend a good friend of mine who was being harassed repeatedly by a group of drunken party-goers. And &nbsp;you know what I learned? I learned never to do that again. I also learned that one should never wear loafers on a boat deck in the rain when 300 lb. men are trying to beat you up.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 328th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Vivifying.</p></p> Fri, 28 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/steve-edwards-interview-102707 The Hanna Rosin Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/hanna-rosin-interview-102548 <p><p>Today I interview Hanna Rosin, the author of the fascinating and provocative new book <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Men-Rise-Women/dp/1594488045">The End of Men: And the Rise of Women</a></em><em>, </em>which explores the shift in power dynamics between men and women and what it means for the future. Rosin is also a senior editor at <em>The Atlantic</em> and a founder and editor at <em><a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x.html">DoubleX</a></em>, Slate&#39;s women&#39;s section. You can learn much more about her <a href="http://hannarosin.com/">here</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Hanna%20Rosin_%28c%29%20Nina%20Subin.jpeg" style="float: right; height: 461px; width: 300px; " title="Writer Hanna Rosin. (Photo by Nina Subin)" /><strong>After completing your book, did you consider changing your parenting tack in order to raise sons who not only do right by themselves but also do right by women (particularly after you worked on your &quot;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/boys-on-the-side/309062/">hookup culture</a>&quot; chapter)?</strong></p><p>My concern about raising my sons has more to do with teaching them to meet whatever demands school places on them without making them frustrated or miserable or think they have to be just like girls. I try to be realistic &mdash;&nbsp;I can&#39;t make my sons into people they&#39;re not. I think the &quot;William wants a doll&quot; fantasy of the &#39;70s is a proven failure. But I can&#39;t put my head in the sand and pretend that school does not demand a level of organization and verbal acuity that doesn&#39;t come 100 percent naturally to them. So I try and teach them to cultivate the skills they have &mdash; to nurture their inner secretary, as I put it. One example is I make a list for my son that he reads every morning of what he needs to do &mdash; put his lunch in his backpack, remember his PE shoes, etc. &mdash;&nbsp;in the hopes that eventually he&#39;ll internalize those organization skills.</p><p>As for the hook-up culture, I won&#39;t teach my sons and daughters differently on this front. Young people are aiming for different kinds of connections than I had, ones that aren&#39;t crude but aren&#39;t entirely settled, either. But at their best they are respectful. Here is what one woman I interviewed told me. As a guiding principle, I think it&#39;s not half bad:</p><p>&quot;We want a relationship of freedom &mdash; the freedom to be there for each other and available sexually when it suits the both of us, and also emotionally when it suits the both of us. We want it to be fun and maybe involve some dates and long talks over coffee. But we certainly don&#39;t want these &quot;relationships&quot; to be entered into with an expectation of long-term, or to get in the way of the other important things in our lives. Compatibility isn&#39;t even all that important. Amusement, affection, affirming attention, sexual fulfillment, the ever-elusive &quot;fun&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;that&#39;s what we&#39;re after. We (both women and men) are putting ourselves first. Some might call that selfish; we call it smart and independent and secure.&quot;</p><p><strong>You touch upon many pop culture references in the book. What are some of your personal favorite movies/TV shows/books that portray male/female relationships in a realistic yet progressive manner?</strong></p><p>We seem to have thankfully passed through the era of the Judd Apatow irresponsible man-child who needs to be rescued by his shrill girlfriend. One positive example right now is the NBC sit-com <em>Up All Night</em>, where Will Arnett plays a very respectable stay-at-home dad. His character started out as your usual doltish sitcom dad, watching hockey or playing video games when he was supposed to be taking care of the baby. But over time they have developed the character so he is a model of parental wisdom without being emasculated. He continues to take care of the baby and his wife still finds him sexy. (One complicating factor here is that Will Arnett and Amy Poehler just separated and tabloids have speculated that its because she is more successful than he is!)</p><p><strong>One issue that I find to be a stumbling block in terms of American women truly achieving their full potential is how much we actively buy into our own superficial deficiencies. Why do you think we have come so far in terms of earning more and demanding more rights yet we will still buy a magazine that promises us hope in a new outfit, product, diet or sex position?</strong></p><p>Arianna Huffington calls this enduring phenomenon our &quot;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/evicting-the-obnoxious-ro_b_573816.html">inner obnoxious roommate</a>,&quot; the voice in our head always telling us our ankles are thick or our nose is too long or we&#39;re not smart enough or whatever. I don&#39;t think we will kill that voice off overnight. But here is one thing that gives me hope: Lately we&#39;ve been seeing more examples of male vanity: men tweezing and waxing and wearing makeup and demanding their own boutiques. And I really think this helps even the playing field. I think most women are of two minds about, say, dressing up: We enjoy it but then sometimes we find it oppressive. But when men are doing it too maybe we can share the burden, and relax and enjoy it!</p><p><strong>In your research and personal observations, do you believe competition between women (either on a higher, say, professional sense or in a more &quot;catty&quot; manner) is a bigger stumbling block than it is for men?</strong></p><p>Studies show that women are often harder on each other than they are on other men in the workplace. But I think this is a function of still being somewhat the underdogs. Women pick on other women because they are often afraid to take on the men. But as women become more prevalent in positions of power, they will become equal opportunity saboteurs!</p><p><strong>Your <a href="http://www.slate.com/authors.david_plotz.html">husband</a> will be &quot;interrogating&quot; you as part of your book tour. How much preparation do the two of you do before these appearances? Or do you like to keep the discussion a surprise until you&#39;re in front of the microphone?</strong></p><p>The night of my book launch my husband interrogated me at an event in D.C. We did not prepare at all, because he&#39;d been away on a work retreat and life and three kids, etc., and we just didn&#39;t have time. That night unfolded in a more goofy, spontaneous way. We repeated that event the following night in New York, and because we&#39;d had the dress rehearsal we were much more prepared and serious. Not sure which one was better.</p><p><strong>As a mother, how did you respond to the heavy emphasis placed on moms in both the Democratic and Republican conventions? Did it speak to you or did you find it pandering (or somewhere in-between)?</strong></p><p>I don&#39;t mind when women claim &quot;mom&quot; as their most important role but I really don&#39;t like Michelle Obama&#39;s term &quot;Mom-in-Chief.&quot; It&#39;s a little cheesy and condescending. In her spoken autobiography she never even mentioned her job! I find it all too retro, like a reaction against Hillary Clinton. Just because Ann Romney never did paid work it does not mean paid work is something to be embarrassed about!</p><p><strong>I read that you did not choose the title of the book. What alternates did you consider before&nbsp;<em>The End of Men&nbsp;</em>was selected?</strong></p><p>I didn&#39;t choose the title of the original <em>Atlantic</em> story on which the book is based. That title was chosen by the editors and I never saw it until it was on the newsstand. But over time that title came to be so closely associated with my argument that by the time the book was being published I wasn&#39;t considering another one. The title is obviously a blessing and a curse; it&#39;s provocative but it alienates many people and does not quite accurately represent the argument.</p><p><strong>In reading some of the reviews of the book and comments on your interviews, it&#39;s clear there is a wide segment of people who not only reject the concept of the book but even gender dialog in general. How do you try to engage readers who don&#39;t typically engage in this type of thinking?</strong></p><p>As I wrote, the title alone is enough to alienate people. And it is, frankly, quite off-putting, as it seems to be launching head on into phase next of the gender war. But I don&#39;t think the content of the book is all that inflammatory. Look, these shifts in gender dynamics are obviously underway. They affect our decisions on so many aspects of life &mdash;&nbsp;how we work, marry, have sex, go to school, raise our children. So I think it&#39;s really important to take stock of that. And the book is designed to help you navigate all those changes.</p><p><strong>Do you attempt to overcome gender stereotypes at home or let them fall into place where it&#39;s easiest? (There was one day, for instance, when I decided I needed to learn to hang a picture as well as my husband does, but eventually decided that if I hate doing that and he loves it, then so be it.)</strong></p><p>Well, my youngest son plays almost exclusively with cars and trucks. My older son is a born computer programmer. And my daughter sits and reads most of the day. So I haven&#39;t done a good job of upending gender stereotypes there. As for me and my husband, we both work, we both love to cook, we both play on soccer teams. He does most of the picture hanging but I&#39;ve painted a few walls. Does that count?</p><p><strong>I saw that there is an upcoming <a href="http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/calendar/event.php?id=125548&amp;cid=44&amp;oid=3">conference at the&nbsp;Boston&nbsp;University&nbsp;Law&nbsp;Center&nbsp;</a>debunking your book. What are the most intriguing rebuttals to your book that you&#39;ve seen thus far?</strong></p><p>The Boston Law conference is not about debunking but about &quot;evaluating.&quot; That was actually set up before the book came out and I am greatly looking forward to it, as some of the academics I respect the most are speaking there. I think the most intriguing rebuttals push me on the tone of the book. People are not clear whether I feel triumphant about this change or not. The truth is that I feel hopeful about some things and despairing about others. It&#39;s obviously not great that many men are having trouble adjusting the post manufacturing era and that many more women are raising children alone. It is positive, however, that both men and women can choose from a greater array of gender roles.</p><p><strong>Between <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/306872/">crime</a>, politics and gender, you cover some serious material. What do you read, write or otherwise partake in, pop-culture wise, when you need to rest your brain?</strong></p><p>I read a lot of novels. I just finished <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/gillian-flynn-interview-101906">Gillian Flynn</a>&#39;s <em>Gone Girl</em> and am looking forward to reading Junot Diaz&#39; new novel, <em>This is How You Lose Her</em>, next. I&#39;m back into <em>Project Runway</em> this season because my daughter loves it and am looking forward to <em>Homeland</em> starting up again in the fall.</p><p><strong>From your years on the debate team, what were some of the most difficult topics you found yourself defending/attacking?</strong></p><p>Funny, I just visited my old debate partner recently after he got married, and we were remembering old times. The hardest thing was that the debate circuit did not take women all that seriously and a lot of our judges were often Southern so I had to walk a fine line between being the NY killer I wanted to be and not putting off the judges.</p><p><strong>Your dad was <a href="http://nymag.com/news/articles/reasonstoloveny/2011/cab-drivers/">a&nbsp;New York&nbsp;cabbie</a>.&nbsp;How much is appropriate to tip a cab driver?</strong></p><p>Always tip A LOT, like at least 25 percent. And don&#39;t pay with a credit card. The cabbies hate that.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 327th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ.org?</strong></p><p>Probably much like it feels to be the 328<sup>th</sup> person.</p></p> Fri, 21 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/hanna-rosin-interview-102548 The Cheryl Strayed Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/cheryl-strayed-interview-102405 <p><p>Today I speak with writer Cheryl Strayed. You may know her from her long-running advice column <em>Dear Sugar</em>, which she writes for <a href="http://therumpus.net/">The Rumpus</a>, and which was adapted into the best selling collection <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Tiny-Beautiful-Things-Advice-Sugar/dp/0307949338"><em>Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar</em></a>.&nbsp;Strayed&#39;s writing has been featured in everything from <em>The</em>&nbsp;<em>Washington Post Magazine</em> and <em>The Best American Essays</em> to <em>Allure</em> and <em>Self</em>.&nbsp;Her memoir,&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Oprahs/dp/0307592731/ref=la_B001HCXFIE_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1347550630&amp;sr=1-1">Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail</a></em>, hit #1 on the <em>New York Times</em> best seller list and&nbsp;was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the first selection for Oprah&#39;s Book Club 2.0. The book, which describes Strayed&#39;s 1,100 mile solo hike after her mother&#39;s early death, has been optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon&#39;s production company, Pacific Standard.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cheryl%20Strayed.JPG" style="float: right; height: 447px; width: 300px; " title="Writer Cheryl Strayed (Photo by Joni Kabana)" /><strong>Were there parts of <em>Wild</em>&nbsp;that were&nbsp;</strong><strong>matter of fact to you but that surprised you by&nbsp;</strong><strong>resonating strongly with your readers?</strong><br />The book itself: I knew it wasn&rsquo;t just about hiking and would try to tell that to people who thought, &ldquo;Oh, I&rsquo;m not a hiker,&rdquo; before it came out. But I&rsquo;ve been amazed by how resonant it&rsquo;s been with people from different age groups, life experiences and genders. There&rsquo;s a lot of things that people talk to me about, like the scene where I see a fox and I yell &ldquo;Mom, mom!&rdquo; after the fox walks away. I remember writing that and thinking it was this weird, inexplicable moment, and I still don&rsquo;t know how to make sense of that; but so many people have written to me about that moment and told me stories about how they believe the spirit of someone they love who is now dead is now in an animal.&nbsp;One thing I&rsquo;ve found in my writing life that the most personal things we see as strange are often the most universal experiences.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>If your kids commemorated you with a tattoo&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/From-Lost-to-Found-Cheryl-Strayeds-Journey-in-Photos/10">the way you got a tattoo to commemorate your mother</a>, what do you think it might look like?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve never been asked that question. My first thought is that it would be a word &mdash; words are my thing &mdash; and that maybe it would be some word they really associate with me. . . maybe something as simple as &quot;love&quot;&nbsp;since obviously that&rsquo;s the main thing I give my children. I really do believe that&rsquo;s the heart of my work, too, and the whole reason of me being there. Maybe the Latin word for &quot;love.&quot;&nbsp;It&rsquo;s totally corny, I know.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What are your biggest camping etiquette pet peeves? </strong><br />I find it appalling when people do things like have a boom box or any kind of electronic noise. I love music, but come on. We&rsquo;re out in the wilderness, I don&rsquo;t want to listen to your song. I find that really rude and it doesn&rsquo;t occur to them that it&#39;s not okay.</p><p><strong>Was there anything you ate to death while on the trail that you&rsquo;re sick of now?</strong><br />All those dehydrated Lipton noodles, rice and sauces. When you&rsquo;re on a wilderness trail it&rsquo;s the easiest thing, and when I was out there it tasted great. But whenever I have them now, not that it&rsquo;s very often, I&rsquo;m just like, no &mdash;&nbsp;I&rsquo;ve eaten so much of that. A lot of hikers take out Snickers Bars; a lot of people got sick of them but I never got sick of those. I also can&rsquo;t eat any of those PowerBars or Clif Bars to save my life. That happened three-quarters of the way into my trip &mdash;&nbsp;I started leaving those in hiker free boxes.</p><p><strong>How much was your book vetted or fact-checked, if at all, by Oprah&rsquo;s people prior to being selected for the book club?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve wondered the same thing. I&rsquo;m assuming that they did to some extent, because they wanted to avoid an embarrassing situation.&nbsp;They certainly didn&rsquo;t involve me. It&rsquo;s pretty easy to vet <em>Wild</em> because there are pictures online of me on the trail with people who I wrote about. And since the book came out, people who who know me have posted things online. The Knopf legal team went through what I was saying before it was published.</p><p><strong>Between being #1 on the <em>NYT</em> bestseller list and being in Oprah&rsquo;s book club, do you feel more pressure or more freedom when it comes to your next project?</strong><br />I&rsquo;m trying to feel neither. I&rsquo;m trying to feel like I always felt. I&rsquo;m a writer &mdash;&nbsp;I&rsquo;m going to write a book. With the first book I thought, &ldquo;What if this never happens?&rdquo; It would be very embarrassing to me to know I never managed to write it.&nbsp;When I finish [this next book], I&#39;m gonna feel quite stressed out. Not so much for myself, but hoping that my publisher is happy with it; that&rsquo;s the hard part, not wanting to let other people down. I&rsquo;ll just write the best book I can write and see what happens. Who knows why a book doesn&rsquo;t well on the marketplace?&nbsp;A lot of great books don&rsquo;t become best sellers. I don&rsquo;t know if I will write another best seller; I can&rsquo;t try to.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>How do you attack writing without succumbing to myriad distractions, both legit (family) and not (Facebook)? </strong><br />It&rsquo;s a challenge. Social media is great: It&rsquo;s like our water cooler; it&rsquo;s fun to take a break and communicate with our fellow humans but it can be totally distracting. You mean to write for two hours but you spend two hours on Facebook instead. I had to really learn how to look at things over the long time. A lot of times I&rsquo;ll get freaked out on a micro level, like, &ldquo;Oh my gosh, I&rsquo;ve got write this week,&rdquo; and then someone gets the flu and the kids are home and you can&rsquo;t write that chapter. But if this gets done three weeks later, that&rsquo;s not really a big deal. But it feels like it is. It always feels like I&rsquo;m not doing enough, but then I look back at all the work I&rsquo;ve done.</p><p><strong>Which <em>Dear Sugar</em> topics tended gave you the most pause?</strong><br />Many of them &mdash; when I initially read them, I thought, &quot;What the hell am I gonna say?&quot; But the one that gave me the most pause was <a href="http://therumpus.net/2011/07/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-78-the-obliterated-place/">The Obliterated Place</a>, the guy whose son was killed by a drunk driver when he was 22. I knew I had a lot to say about grief and I knew what it was like to lose someone so essential to your life; but I hadn&rsquo;t lost a child and I hope I never will. I just felt like, OK, I can meet him on a certain level; but I was fearful that I would say the wrong thing to him. Suffering is hard enough, and if you feel as if no one understands your suffering it adds another level to it. I struggled; I spent a lot of time crafting that reply.</p><p><strong>What nonfiction books have you read that made you want to get to know the author personally?</strong><br />Mary Karr is a poetry teacher at Syracuse. She was never a teacher of mine &mdash; I only took part of a class that she taught &mdash; but I was a fan of hers for sure. This last year I read <em>Lit</em> and I was completely blown away. Here was this experience of someone I do know, not terribly well, and then I read the book and I thought, &quot;I really want to get to know this woman.&quot; Also, Mira Bartok, with <em>The Memory Palace</em>;&nbsp;I had just met her at AWP, so I don&rsquo;t know her. But reading her book made me feel like I wanted to be her friend. My friends who publish memoirs and people who know me have this experience, too: They can know me on another level. In some way you&rsquo;re creating a persona on the page, and yet you&rsquo;re also telling your most intimate thoughts and experiences and how you really experience the world.</p><p>The other day I went on Tumblr &mdash; I have one and I don&rsquo;t really know how to work it &nbsp;&mdash; and I started posting a couple of things and then went away and couldn&rsquo;t find it, and I had to go through Google and instead of my Tumblr coming up, I was brought to this Tumblr search page where it had all these other things that people had posted about me. One was <a href="http://lynnsalisbury.tumblr.com/post/30395198486/for-a-while-now-i-have-had-the-book-wild-by">this interesting little piece</a> by this woman Lynn Salisbury who I went to high school with. We went to this tiny, tiny high school &mdash;&nbsp;40 kids in the whole class. I didn&rsquo;t know her very well, and I was very popular in high school and concerned with being loved, the way all teenagers are. She was not in my crowd, but she wrote about reading <em>Wild</em> and her memories of me as a teenager. She said, &ldquo;I wish I had known her better. I wish I hadn&rsquo;t assumed who she was.&rdquo; Looking from the outside, this popular girl, everything&rsquo;s great. I think a memoir, what you&rsquo;re allowed to do is see the inside. That&rsquo;s a truer place. A lot of my friends even got to know me on another level, one that the people we&rsquo;re close to don&rsquo;t even know.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 326th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Hahaha. It feels magical and magnetic and magnificent. Everything beginning with the letter &quot;M.&quot; Honestly, I feel honored! I always feel honored anytime anyone wants to talk to me about something I wrote. I&rsquo;ve been all over the country these last several months for both books, and most places I&rsquo;ve gone, I&rsquo;ve walked into a room packed full of people and I&rsquo;ve thought, &ldquo;Wow, I&rsquo;ve thought three people would come.&rdquo; I should be able to understand why, because I&rsquo;ve been reached by other people&rsquo;s writing, but I&rsquo;ve thought, &ldquo;Wow, really, me?&rdquo; Thank you.</p><p><em>You can learn more about Cheryl Strayed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cherylstrayed.com/">here</a>, and read an extended version of my interview with her <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2012/09/the_cheryl_strayed_interview.php">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/cheryl-strayed-interview-102405 The Gladstone Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/gladstone-interview-102226 <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/zulkey.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; " title="Humorist Gladstone (Courtesy of the artist)" /></div><p>Today I chat with a humorist who is a regular contributor to Cracked.com, one of my favorite daily reads.&nbsp; Gladstone, who goes only by his last name, is also the creator of the web series <em><a href="http://www.kafkamaine.com/hatebynumbers/">Hate By Numbers</a>&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;a contributor to Comedy Central&rsquo;s<em> <a href="http://www.indecisionforever.com/">Indecision Forever</a></em>.&nbsp;Recently, Gladstone signed with an agent to produce an old-timey print version of his popular fiction web serial <em><a href="http://www.cracked.com/blog/if-internet-suddenly-disappeared-how-wed-get-laid/">Notes from the Internet Apocalypse</a></em>, a modern take on a sci-fi crime novel. You can find out much more about him <a href="http://www.kafkamaine.com/">here</a> and on <a href="https://twitter.com/WGladstone">Twitter</a>.</p><p><strong>Tell me about Cracked.com&rsquo;s evolution. I used to describethe site as &ldquo;not&nbsp;MAD&rdquo; but now it produces reliably good yet unpredictable humor and pop culture content&nbsp;</strong><strong>&mdash; and&nbsp;</strong><strong>even science and politics.</strong><br />I was asked to freelance for <em>Cracked</em> many years ago based on work I&#39;d done for <em><a href="http://www.yankeepotroast.org/">Yankee Pot Roast</a></em>. At that time, the site didn&#39;t have a very strong voice. I also had a problem with some of the content being occasionally homophobic or misogynistic. With a change in management, and Jack O&#39;Brien&#39;s ascension to Editor in Chief, however, the site greatly matured. You have to give Jack and <em>Cracked</em> a lot of credit for being successful on the Internet without resorting to soft core porn or cheap jokes.&nbsp;</p><p>I had an initial bias against the list form and there&#39;s no doubt that it has been abused by the Net to appeal to semi-literates, but I soon realized my dislike of the format was ill-founded. You can write lists like numbered essays if you want to. Pieces I&#39;m very proud of &mdash; like &quot;<a href="http://www.cracked.com/blog/3-reasons-the-ground-zero-mosque-debate-makes-no-sense/">3 Reasons the Ground Zero Mosque Debate Makes No Sense</a>,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;<a href="http://www.cracked.com/blog/3-mistakes-women-make-when-dealing-with-men/">3 Mistakes Women Make When Dealing With Men</a>,&quot; or &quot;<a href="http://www.cracked.com/blog/3-types-wall-street-protesters-hurting-their-own-cause/">3 Types of Occupy Wall Street Protestors Hurting Their Own Cause</a>&quot; &mdash; are all pretty much essays. If adding a number in front of some paragraphs and in the title gets more people to read it and helps them understand it, I can accept that.</p><p>Then, when you talk about&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Notes-from-the-Internet-Apocalypse/201592453187344">Notes from the Internet Apocalypse</a>,&nbsp;</em>serialized fiction averaging 250,000 views on the &#39;Net is pretty much unheard of. It was also bold of <em>Cracked </em>to let me do 50 episodes of my <a href="http://www.kafkamaine.com/hatebynumbers"><em>Hate By Numbers</em> video series</a>. It was not an intuitively obvious choice to support a video series that often satirized the failings of cable news for a young Internet audience, but the show was a success for <em>Cracked</em>, culminating in the <a href="http://www.cracked.com/video_17618_black-eyed-peas-have-officially-written-worst-song-ever.html">Black Eyed Peas episode</a>, which is still one of the biggest videos on the site.<span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"> <em>Cracked</em> also had the foresight to embrace hilarious and occasionally bizarre videos from Michael Swaim and Cody Johnston, who grew into video powerhouses.</span></p><p><strong>How will the book version of <em>NFTIA</em> differ from the online version?</strong><br />Well, it&#39;s 65 percent longer for one, but it covers the same basic plot as the online version. The emphasis, however, is on Gladstone&#39;s addictions, losses and loves, with the social satire as more of a backdrop. The online version is very terse and the hook of each chapter is front-loaded with what&#39;s missing without the Net: Internet porn, 4Chan, Google &mdash; what would that be like? The novel is character driven. It&#39;s ultimately a love story.</p><p><strong>Have you ever heard back from anybody you&rsquo;ve hated on</strong><strong>&nbsp;in <em>Cracked</em> or <em>HBN</em></strong><strong>?</strong><br />Yes. My favorite episode of <em>Hate By Numbers</em> was episode 41. A local Rhode Island news show did a ridiculous segment on <a href="http://www.kafkamaine.com/hatebynumbers/?p=110">a cell phone that allegedly took a picture that revealed a ghost</a>. Within a day of the show, one of the co-hosts, Shawn Tempesta, contacted me to say he was a fan of the show and honored to be included. He turned out to be a great a guy, and that made me like the episode even more.</p><p><strong>One thing you and I have in common is that we both have day jobs, in addition to our Internet stylings. Do you aspire to be a full-time creative type? Sometimes I think I would be more likely to burn out on ideas if I had the freedom to stay at home with my shoes off all day.</strong><br />I absolutely aspire to be a full-time creative type. I certainly know what you mean. Even in high school, I wrote the most songs when I had a test to study for; but I&#39;m confident I could be productive if being creative were a full time gig. After all, I have a family to support. That&#39;s a pretty good impetus.</p><p><strong>You wrote a good piece about <a href="http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-tips-meeting-online-friends-in-real-life/">how to meet Internet friends in real life</a>, which is a topic I can get down with. What advice do you have, then, for explaining to already &ldquo;real life&rdquo; friends who your Internet friends are? Sometimes I think some of my friends think my other friends are figments of my imagination.</strong><br />Ooh, sorry to let you down, but you can&#39;t explain that without sounding crazy, either. I found some of my best friends at 30 when I started emailing other writers whose work I enjoyed online and/or received such emails from other humor writers. This was before Facebook and Twitter. And a funny thing happened: Almost every single one of those guys started talking to me like they&#39;d known me for years, almost instantly.</p><p>The only thing I can compare it to are those married men with kids who wake up one day and say, &quot;Holy sh*t, I&#39;m gay! I should be gay, like, all the time!&quot; Well, I&#39;d spent time with musicians and people with grad degrees and serious fiction writers and actors and none of them were like me. But humor writers, holy crap, it just clicked. Did that sound crazy? Yeah, sorry. Can&#39;t help.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the funniest part about the 2012 presidential campaign so far?</strong><br />I&#39;ve never felt so disenfranchised in my life. I used to gobble up election politics, but I could not care less this year. We have a democrat in office and yet, Gitmo still thrives, drones kill U.S. citizens abroad and, apparently, we live in a country where a citizen can be jailed indefinitely on the suspicion of terrorism without due process. I find it incredibly depressing, and all the liberal comics who are getting irate at Republicans should use their energy to keep our current administration in check. Nevertheless, I did laugh when it appeared that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNCQHqrPtCE">Paul Ryan was checking out his own mom&#39;s rack</a>.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 325th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ.org?</strong><br />Y&#39;know that moment when you&#39;re about to sneeze, but then you can&#39;t, and then you trip and fall while looking for a tissue, but then land in a super model and have a screaming orgasm? It&#39;s exactly like that. Thank you very much.</p><p><em>Read an extended version of my interview with Gladstone <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2012/09/the_gladstone_interview.php">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/gladstone-interview-102226 The Lydia Netzer Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/lydia-netzer-interview-102015 <p><p>Today I chat with Lydia Netzer, the author of <em>Shine Shine Shine</em>. Reviewers have passionately praised Netzer&#39;s debut novel for its sci-fi love story: the book follows the relationship of Sunny, a congenitally bald woman, and Maxon, a robotic space engineer, as they find their own version of normal both at home and up among the stars. The novel&#39;s blend of folksy and futuristic is like a bacon muffin: shocking, yet somehow it all makes perfect sense.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lydiaauthorphoto.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Lydia Netzer (Courtesy of the author)" /><strong>One of the things I identified with most in your book was the somewhat mystical/alien nature of pregnancy. What was the weirdest part of being pregnant for you?</strong><br />Feeling the baby move for the first time was terrifying. The reality of having created a life form within myself which was separate from me and controlled by a brain other than mine really freaked me out. If I think about it too much now, I still get unsettled.. I mean, imagine if you had a worm inside you that was going to grow by a factor of like a thousand, and then bust its way out the nearest available hole and go found a corporation.. Yet our reaction is supposed to be to coo and crochet a hat.</p><p><strong>The following two questions will take you through some high-highs and low-lows. Your book has elicited some really positive reviews. What were some of the best compliments people have paid to your book?</strong><br />The best compliments I have received were supportive messages from parents of children with autism, or wives of men with Aspberger&rsquo;s Syndrome. I wrote my book including characters with these traits, but I did not not make it a central point of the book. I was concerned I would be seen by people who live with these disorders as having been dismissive, or trivializing the troubles they experience. That doesn&rsquo;t seem to be the case, and that&rsquo;s very rewarding to hear.</p><p><strong>Now: What were some of the meanest critiques you received on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lydia-netzer/marriage-secrets_b_1459770.html">your piece about a successful marriage</a>?</strong><br />I think the best one was the woman who was like, &ldquo;Fifteen years? That&rsquo;s nothing! Try again when you get to 30, like me!&rdquo; And I mean, there&rsquo;s no response to that, except to say, yes, you&rsquo;re right. Thirty is certainly a larger number than 15. It doesn&rsquo;t really bother me &mdash; in fact, I&rsquo;ve had as much fun with the one-star reviews of my book as the five-star. The person on <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13167199-shine-shine-shine?auto_login_attempted=true#other_reviews">Goodreads</a>&nbsp;who trumpeted, &ldquo;<em>Shine Shine Shine</em>? This book is crap crap crap!&rdquo; made me laugh &lsquo;til I cried. I mean, you have to laugh. You can&rsquo;t take anything so seriously.</p><p><strong>So many depictions of marriage in pop culture paint it as a drag. What are some examples of marriages &mdash; either fictional or real &mdash; that seem sexy and fun?</strong><br />I always really loved the Bartletts on the show <em>The West Wing</em>. They always had a twinkle in their eyes with each other, even when they fought. I like the Obamas, too. I really love seeing couples that kid around with each other without crossing a certain line of respect. The difference between the marriage on <em>Everybody Loves Raymon</em>d, which I found depressing, and the marriage on <em>Roseanne</em>, which I found fun, was that strangely, Roseanne and Dan actually never really crossed that &ldquo;teasing&rdquo; line into insulting. Of course, I like April and Andy on <em>Parks and Recreation</em>. And I love Pam and Jim on <em>The Office</em>.</p><p><strong>What are some of your favorite examples of books or movies that successfully combine sci-fi and romance?</strong><br />I&rsquo;m reading a book right now called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Infinite-Tides-A-Novel/dp/1608198103"><em>The Infinite Tides</em></a> by Christian Kiefer. While it&rsquo;s not really a romance, I think it really gorgeously combines sci-fi elements with contemporary literary fiction, so it&rsquo;s a compelling statement about fatherhood, marriage and identity, and it still has astronauts, space walks, math and rockets. One movie I really love is Contact, which is about a straight-laced, scientific-minded woman falling for a woo-woo theologian dude, all in the framework of alien contact and extraterrestrial machines.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s one of the biggest differences so far, between<em> Shine Shine Shine </em>and its follow-up?</strong><br />The new book has no robots. Which is sad, but if I put robots in every book, people would start to think I had an unnatural affection for them. Which I totally don&rsquo;t. Really.</p><p><strong>What did you learn from writing and publishing <em>Shine Shine Shine</em> that has helped you in approaching the second book?</strong><br />Readers have responded so positively to the elements in <em>Shine Shine Shine </em>that I thought would be the most strange and inaccessible: the meditations on A.I., the weird death/hallucination/memory scene, the spacewalk encounter, etc. I really feel, after having people connect with and love those elements, that I have permission to let myself write what I really want to write, and not edit my imagination to the things I think will be palatable for a wide audience. I think the wide audience has more willingness to engage in strangeness than I had given them credit for.</p><p><strong>You give lots of helpful writing advice online: Whose writing advice has helped you?</strong><br />I often use <a href="http://writeordie.com/">Write or Die</a>, which is writing software that begins to blink, beep, flash and shout at you if you stop writing for more than three seconds. I also am addicted to National Novel Writing Month, which encourages mad drafting, no editing and buckets of output in a short time.</p><p><strong>You&rsquo;re making the <a href="http://media.us.macmillan.com/rggguides/9781250007070RGG.pdf">book club</a> circuit: for those new to that world, how would you advise authors on how to best prepare for these appearances?</strong><br />Engage as a member of the club as much as possible, and as The Visiting Professional Author Lady as little as possible. Be a friend, be a nice person, be a good addition to the group. Listen.</p><p><strong>You homeschool your kids. What are some of the biggest misconceptions of homeschooling you encounter, either regarding the parents or the kids?</strong><br />That homeschoolers are isolated. I mean there are stereotypes about homeschoolers being religious nutburgers or hippies or anarchists. . . &nbsp;but those are pretty much dissipating nowadays as homeschooling becomes more mainstream. What people still really don&rsquo;t understand is how much interaction these kids get &mdash; karate school, horse barns, violin academy, homeschool co-op, church &mdash; and that&rsquo;s not even counting the intentional socializing that homeschoolers do at park days, dances, play dates, field trips, etc. If there&rsquo;s one misconception that I wish I could explode, it would be that homeschooling is lonely. We actually have to work to *limit* the kids&rsquo; social calendar, so it doesn&rsquo;t start taking over our lives.</p><p><strong>Who are some of your favorite famous baldies?</strong><br />I loved <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=bald%20natalie%20portman&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=Hv48UK_HO6TgyQGj14CADw&amp;biw=1024&amp;bih=569&amp;sei=JP48UILIMKObyAHfmYHQCg">Natalie Portman bald</a>. She&rsquo;s my very favorite Also <a href="https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=MkQ&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;q=bald%20sigourney%20weaver&amp;biw=1024&amp;bih=569&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=Vf48UM3-H6rRyQG8xYCICw">Sigourney Weaver bald</a>. I&rsquo;d love to see Claire Danes bald! Demi Moore and Britney Spears, not so much. In terms of boys, Bruce Willis, definitely. <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=Dostoevsky&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;um=1&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hl=en&amp;tbm=isch&amp;source=og&amp;sa=N&amp;tab=wi&amp;ei=vv48ULf1OcndyAH4q4DYBw&amp;biw=1024&amp;bih=569&amp;sei=wf48ULemG8PkywH0pIGADg">Dostoevsky, obvs</a>.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 324th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />It&rsquo;s a dream come true. Thank you so much for having me! You&rsquo;re a peach, and all my love for your new baby!</p><p><em>Lydia Netzer lives in Virginia, where she homeschools her kids, <a href="http://lydianetzer.blogspot.com/">writes wonderfully about writing</a> and runs this <a href="https://twitter.com/lostcheerio">Twitter account</a>. Click <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2012/08/the_lydia_netzer_interview.php">here</a> to read an extended interview with Netzer.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 31 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/lydia-netzer-interview-102015 The Gillian Flynn Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/gillian-flynn-interview-101906 <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/Gillian%20Flynn%20by%20credit%20Heidi%20Jo%20Brady.jpg" title="Author Gillian Flynn (Photo by Heidi Jo Brady)" /></div><p>Today I chat with Gillian Flynn, the author of the crime novel sensation <em>Gone Girl. </em>It&#39;s a&nbsp;creepy, delightful read (or in my case, listen), wherein a woman goes missing and we hear her point of view about the case in addition to her husband&rsquo;s, who happens to be the prime suspect in the case. A Chicago resident, Flynn is also the author of <a href="http://gillian-flynn.com/sharp-objects/"><em>Sharp</em></a> <a href="http://gillian-flynn.com/sharp-objects/"><em>Objects</em></a> and <a href="http://gillian-flynn.com/dark-places/"><em>Dark</em></a> <a href="http://gillian-flynn.com/dark-places/"><em>Places</em></a> and is a former TV critic for <em>Entertainment Weekly</em>. You can learn much more about her <a href="http://gillian-flynn.com/">here</a>.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the first book you ever read that truly scared you? </strong><br />I remember as a kid I was obsessed over Agatha Christie&#39;s <em>And Then There Were None</em>, about a group of people on an island being slowly killed off. The waft of madness in the air and the ever-ratcheting tension! I loved it.</p><p><strong>In <em>Gone Girl</em>, Nick loves the way his wife, Amy, mistakenly hears the lyrics of &ldquo;Invisible Touch.&rdquo; What are some memorable lyrical mis-reads from your own life? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/means-what-misinterpretations-common-turns-phrase-101533">I know a girl who thought &ldquo;How can we be lovers if we can&rsquo;t be friends&rdquo; was &ldquo;How can we be lovers if we can&rsquo;t be Ed McMahon.&rdquo;</a></strong><br />Well, she makes a good point, actually. Haven&#39;t we all asked ourselves that very question? That &quot;Invisible Touch&quot; mistake was actually my very own &mdash; I loaned it to Amy. In fact, one of my best friends from high-school read <em>GONE GIRL</em> and emailed me after for just that reason.&nbsp;But I grew up in the &#39;80s &mdash; no lyrics made sense. I mean, seriously, look up &quot;Pour Some Sugar on Me.&quot;</p><p><strong>Amy&rsquo;s parents write a series of books loosely based on her called <em>Amazing Amy</em>&nbsp;and <em>Amazing Amy Grows Up</em>. What fictional children&rsquo;s future adulthoods have you found yourself pondering? </strong><br />Oh that&#39;s easy: Alice from <em>Alice in Wonderland</em>. Such a clever, curious, amused and generally unruffled girl! Like <em>Amazing Amy</em>, Alice was based on a real child (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Liddell">Alice</a> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Liddell">Liddell</a>), but I mean the Wonderland Alice &mdash; I&#39;d have loved to have met her in college.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s your method for laying out the plot of your books? Do you have an organizing system or do you just write? (I just write.)</strong><br />I do much more organizing when I rewrite &mdash; that&#39;s when I really start nailing things down and do the real work on the plot. But early on, I just like to see where the characters take me. It sounds very author-y, but it works for me.</p><p><strong>How often is the first-draft ending of your books the ending</strong><strong> the readers see in the published version? What books of yours had the most different-from-the-published-version original endings?</strong><br />I never know how a book is going to end when I start writing. <em>Sharp Objects</em> differed the most: The person who is revealed as the murderer in the published novel wasn&#39;t even in the first draft! I had a different killer in mind, and it just felt wrong.</p><p><strong>What have been some of your favorite true-crime reads of late?</strong><br />I loved Richard Lloyd Parry&#39;s <a href="http://www.bookslut.com/nonfiction/2012_06_019058.php"><em>People</em></a> <a href="http://www.bookslut.com/nonfiction/2012_06_019058.php"><em>Who</em></a> <a href="http://www.bookslut.com/nonfiction/2012_06_019058.php"><em>Eat</em></a> <em><a href="http://www.bookslut.com/nonfiction/2012_06_019058.php">Darkness</a>&nbsp;</em>&mdash; it truly captured the personalities of the people involved in a shocking, sad case; it was stunningly researched; it really unsettled me. Like, bad dreams and obsessive Internet research unsettling. Plus he was very humane in how he handled the story &mdash; you never, ever got the feeling he&#39;d forgotten there were real people and real lives involved. And I always have to recommend Bella Stumbo&#39;s brilliant <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Until-Twelfth-Never-Divorce-Broderick/dp/0671726668"><em>Until</em></a> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Until-Twelfth-Never-Divorce-Broderick/dp/0671726668"><em>the</em></a> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Until-Twelfth-Never-Divorce-Broderick/dp/0671726668"><em>Twelfth</em></a> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Until-Twelfth-Never-Divorce-Broderick/dp/0671726668"><em>of</em></a> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Until-Twelfth-Never-Divorce-Broderick/dp/0671726668"><em>Never</em></a>.</p><p><strong>Your father was a film professor: Have there been any classics that he felt you ought to enjoy that you just couldn&rsquo;t get into? </strong><br />My dad loves David Lynch. I love David Lynch, but my dad really loves David Lynch, and so he took me to <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080678/">The</a> <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080678/">Elephant</a> <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080678/">Man</a></em> when I was nine. It was scarring; I left part way through in tears because people were so awful to him and have yet to take it on again.</p><p><strong>How do you watch TV differently now that you&rsquo;re not reviewing it?</strong><br />In ways both good and bad. I can watch it purely for enjoyment, which is lovely (I like not having a pen and paper next to me at all times). But that means I&#39;m not as invested in making my case for or against a show, and that can take some of the fun away. I like the challenge of being forced to articulate exactly why you love, hate or &quot;meh&quot; a series.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 323rd person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ? </strong><br />I am honored; 323 is my lucky number.</p></p> Fri, 24 Aug 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/gillian-flynn-interview-101906 The Dan Telfer Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/dan-telfer-interview-101437 <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/space.jpg" style="width: 620px; " title="Comedian Dan Telfer (Courtesy of the artist)" /></div><p><a href="https://twitter.com/dantelfer">Dan Telfer</a> is a delightful Chicago-based comedian whose first full-length album,&nbsp;<a href="http://aspecialthing.com/forum/f42/dan-telfers-tendrils-ruin-out-now-24273/"><em>Tendrils of Ruin</em></a>, was just recently released. You may also know him for hosting&nbsp;<em>The AV Club</em>&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/memphis-ardent-studios-home-to-big-star-the-replac,56742/">Pop Pilgrims</a>, for producing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoundergroundcomedy.com/">Chicago Underground Comedy</a>, or perhaps for one of his most-beloved riffs on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vSY_rB928c">the best dinosaur</a>.</p><p>Tonight Telfer opens for Marc Maron at the <a href="http://www.maynestage.com/">Mayne Stage</a> in Rogers Park. You can also catch him all over the place&nbsp;<a href="http://dantelfer.blogspot.com/">in upcoming shows</a>.</p><p><strong>How does putting together a set for a comedy album differ from putting together a regular comedy set?</strong><br />I knew that whatever material ended up on the album I&#39;d want to send it off to my personal comedy<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindon_%28Middle-earth%29">&nbsp;Grey Havens</a>. I would normally screw around with the audience or do new material in the middle of a long set, but I mostly gathered these joke babies and laid them down to sleep. FOREVER. Sorry, I don&#39;t know how that got so dark. I mean, I&#39;d have loved to do more loose stuff on the album, but I feel like most people&#39;s perception of me is that I scream extemporaneously about dinosaurs all day, and I really wanted to make this album a tribute to what a control freak I can be.</p><p><strong>What comedy albums influenced you most?</strong><br />For this recording, Maria Bamford&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Unwanted-Thoughts-Syndrome-Maria-Bamford/dp/B001T46U0K">Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome</a>&nbsp;especially. The way that album breaks itself into chapters is really impressive. It has movements, even! So very fancy.<br /><br /><strong>You open for Marc Maron shortly: Do you tailor a set differently when you&rsquo;re an opener vs. when you&rsquo;re performing in another capacity? Or do you always just do your best with the time given?</strong><br />If you&#39;re setting a tone for the next comedian, you can do some real damage if you tank. Sometimes if I know a headliner reasonably well it doesn&#39;t matter, but if I&#39;m the last one performing I will sometimes dig a hole for myself just to have fun digging out. Plus, you know, these folks are all there to see Marc.</p><p>You can&#39;t always assume people show up excited to see the opener. Your mere presence can be a challenge for some people. We live in an era where people can find the exact comedian of their dreams, doing exactly the comedy they want to do through their podcasts on the internet. A local comedian getting between that kind of dedicated crowd and their ideal comic has to work not to get naive or complacent.</p><p>And if I eat a lot of carbs before a show I have to be careful. Burritos make me <em>soooo</em> complacent!<br /><br /><strong>What do you think are some of the more unfortunate trends in standup right now, either in terms of style or content?</strong><br />Stand-up, as an art form, has some wonderful built-in devices to curb unfortunate trends: The chilling silence of an audience not amused is a million kinds of feedback at once. I don&#39;t need to take a stand on what I don&#39;t like to see. If you watch enough fellow comics do annoying or tedious stuff, you&#39;ll see them do it to silence eventually, and that look in their eyes when they realize &quot;OH SH*T THIS WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA FROM THE BEGINNING&quot; is priceless.<br /><br /><strong>Based on the criticism Daniel Tosh and Dane Cook have received lately, do you believe it&rsquo;s unfair for comedians to be criticized for material they&rsquo;re still working out? </strong><br />Whether comedians like it or not, public criticism is here to stay. Mostly we don&#39;t like it. So there are growing pains to be had. I think the most frustrating thing from a comedian&#39;s point of view is, some of the notable &quot;joke policing&quot; right now is just so inarticulate. &quot;Gee whiz, I&#39;m not trying to get millions of Tumblr re-blogs, but if I must accept that fate in order to get the word out about this bad joke that horrified me then so be it!&quot; You&#39;d think the line &ldquo;comedy is subjective&rdquo; would be a cliché by now, but I don&#39;t think a lot of people really know what that means. I hope we can find a way for comedians to remember the point of comedy and for audiences to stop trying to take focus away from the performer.</p><p><strong>We both review</strong>&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.avclub.com/features/podmass/">podcasts for the <em>AV Club</em></a>. If you&rsquo;re like me,&nbsp;you&rsquo;ve encountered some awkwardness from podcasters who feel like we do them a disservice if we don&rsquo;t write them glowing reviews week to week. What message do you have for readers or podcasters on what goes into reviewing the shows?</strong><br />Nobody continually reviews a podcast unless they want to be that show&#39;s advocate and help spread its popularity. If you get a review that makes you feel gross, your advocate wanted to like it and doesn&#39;t hate you. Except that one podcast hosted by that sensitive comedian, everyone hates that podcast. Just kidding, every podcast is the one hosted by a sensitive comedian.</p><p><strong>Which podcasts do you enjoy that you don&rsquo;t review?</strong><br />Some Chicago comedy ones that deserve more listeners are&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-week-in-despair/id525924217">This Week In Despair</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/you-could-be-dead/id477616522">You Could Be Dead</a>, and a new one called&nbsp;<a href="http://tomefoolery.podbean.com/">Tomefoolery</a>,&nbsp;where stand-up comics and improv/sketch types discuss literature together. I do review my favorite though,&nbsp;<a href="http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/hsw-shows/stuff-you-missed-in-history-class-podcast.htm">Stuff You Missed In History Class</a>. It&#39;s kind of amazing how good it is.</p><p><strong>How do you know which jokes to reserve for your act vs. which ones are good for Twitter or other venues? Or do they all go into the same pot?</strong><br />I&#39;ve experimented with doing jokes in both places and found, at least for the people who come see me perform and follow me on Twitter, that absolutely nobody notices or gives a sh*t. I perform it differently and often more theatrically if I try it onstage, and so few people read tweets more than an hour old. It&#39;s easy to use Twitter for whatever you want. It&#39;s a comedian&#39;s dream, that site.<br /><br /><strong>What Pop Pilgrimages were the most surprising or enlightening?</strong><br />I was just dumbstruck by the New Orleans, Seattle and Portland areas. It was my first time in all those places. The walking tour of New Orleans&#39;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/new-orleans-we-visit-locations-from-david-the-wire,57211/">Treme neighborhood</a>&nbsp;was amazing. I was nervous the small park outside&nbsp;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/seattle-kurt-cobain-park,57330/">Kurt Cobain&#39;s house</a>&nbsp;would feel ghoulish, but it&#39;s actually very neutral and contemplative and fitting.&nbsp;And I had several moments driving from Portland to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/eugene-the-cafeteria-from-animal-house,57334/">Eugene</a>&nbsp;where the whole car full of people wanted to strangle me because I was gasping at mountains for hours straight. And that&#39;s how everyone came to call me Gaspy Mountain Telfer.</p><p><strong>Where are your favorite places to perform in Chicago?</strong>&nbsp;<br />The Mayne Stage and&nbsp;<a href="http://upcomedyclub.com/index.cfm">Up Comedy Club</a>&nbsp;are very high tech and brilliantly laid out. Performing and watching in those places is a privilege I wish I could enjoy more often. And I love rock clubs like The Beat Kitchen and The Hideout. One local room I am completely in love with is&nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.metromix.com/events/mmxchi-entertaining-julia-event">Entertaining Julia out of the Town Hall Pub</a>. It&#39;s a free show in a tiny railroad bar and the audience is so loyal. You can&#39;t pull any cheesy club-style bullsh*t there. You see every face and they see you sweating under the track lighting, and some very honest and crazy stuff happens. I feel like my best bits don&#39;t really work until I can make them work there. Also there&#39;s vegan jerky there.</p><p><strong>Who are some comedians that most people probably don&rsquo;t know about but should?</strong><br />Austin: Ramin Nazer, Bryan Gutman and Kerri Lendo.&nbsp;<br />Minneapolis: Mary Mack and Tim Harmston.&nbsp;<br />Seattle: Bryan Cook.<br />San Francisco: Mike Drucker.<br /><br />Chicago: OK, I feel like this is even harder because maybe the only people who read this will be my Chicago comedy friends. Let&#39;s skip those obvious local legends that have been crushing for five to ten years and go for Chicago people I only just realized are hilarious this year and wish I figured it out sooner: Dave Stinton, Kristin Clifford, Rhea Butcher, Stephanie Hasz, Katie McVay, Caitlin Bergh, Cody Melcher and Peter-John Byrnes. There are so many in Chicago. It&#39;s bonkers. If you live here you cannot possibly know how many geniuses are going up every night.<br /><br /><strong>Are there any other sibling teams that you know of in Chicago who challenge you and your brother</strong>&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbie_Q._Telfer">Robbie</a></strong>&nbsp;<strong>in terms of creativity and hilarity?</strong><br />I think calling us a team is a major stretch since we perform together about once every two years.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/puterbaugh.sisterz">The Puterbaugh Sisters</a>&nbsp;could annihilate us. My brother is very talented, but what we do is pretty different. Check out his poetry-variety show&nbsp;<a href="http://www.encyclopediashowaustin.com/">The Encyclopedia Show</a>. He&#39;s my little brother but he has this huge cult of shouting slam poetry people that worships him and totally humbles me. I&#39;m better at video games than him though, and I hope he remembers how I crushed him at Super Mario Kart in high school every time he tries to sleep at night.<br /><br /><strong>What did your parents do to generate not one but two highly entertaining individuals?</strong><br />Let us watch <em>Ghostbusters</em> and <em>Star Wars</em> three times a day for ten years.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 322nd person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Asymmetrical, but in a good way.</p></p> Fri, 03 Aug 2012 08:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-08/dan-telfer-interview-101437