Friday, March 2, 2012

Lauren Grodstein answers our five questions

Lauren Grodstein is the author of A Friend of the Family (Algonquin) and will be interviewed by Stephen King this Saturday as part of the Algonquin Book Club, live and in person at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham, and streaming online at

1. What's on your nightstand right now?

There’s always lots on my nightstand: a few toddler books (lately Good Night, San Francisco and Harry the Dirty Dog), four or five old New York Times Magazines with the crosswords half-filled in, my Lonely Planet Guide to Vancouver, which is as close to Ambien as a book can be, my grandmother’s copy of Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions, and lately, for serious no-bones-about-it reading, Russell Banks’s The Lost Memory of Skin.

2. How do you write?

Writing is about half my job (directing the MFA program at Rutgers-Camden is another half, as is taking care of my three year old son, as is folding laundry and doing dishes and buying groceries, but I have nothing too interesting to say about women’s work, so I guess I’ll stop there…) The best time for me to write is in the morning – say 5:30 or 6:00. This is mostly because I’m a morning person, but I also write early because neither child nor student is likely to bother me at that ridiculous hour, and I feel positive and excited about what the day might bring. By three o’clock in the afternoon I’m usually shot and good only for folding laundry, buying groceries, etc.

3. Name the first time or moment you realized you were a writer.

I always knew I liked to tell stories – when I was a little kid, before I could even spell, I would take sheets of my mom’s sketch paper (she’s a painter, so we always had art supplies in the house) and lie on my stomach in my bedroom and draw characters and tell their stories out loud. So I’ve been creating fiction, in a way, since before I was even able to write. But as for feeling like a professional writer – I don’t know. I think I will always feel like a bit of a fraud, like I can’t believe people are really willing to read the stuff I make up. Maybe I shouldn’t say that? But it’s true – I’m always amazed, and always so grateful.

4. What are you working on now?

I’m editing a novel that remains nameless – I’m pretty bad at titles. It’s about a fight over evolution on a college campus.

5. Favorite recent find?

Okay, this might seem ridiculous, but lately I’ve been in love with a small internet framing company called I’m sure this is symptomatic of early motherhood, but bear with me – you can order a print of your kid, pick out the mat, pick out the frame, and have it delivered to your doorstep all assembled and ready to hang. It’s kind of addictive, mixing and matching photos of your adorable toddler with a series of adorable frames. So there’s that, and Words With Friends, and a British sitcom called Peep Show I can stream on Netflix. Throw in a half bottle of red wine and I’ve basically got my best possible Saturday night.

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