The Disrespectful Interviewer: Dissing Lauren Baratz-Logsted
The Disrespectful Interviewer is a semi-regular feature in which your intrepidly disrespectful correspondent is as rude as she likes with prominent writers of the day.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted1: This is highly unusual, some might say unprecedented, me interviewing you who are actually me. Some might even call it nepotistic.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted2: Some might. But I wouldn’t.
LBL1: Oh, really? Just why did you volunteer for this then, if not in some misguided attempt to grab attention for yourself?
LBL2: I volunteered because even though BiblioBuffet doesn’t bother to list which number in this interview series a particular interview represents, I have it on good authority that this is number thirteen. And while I’m not at all superstitious about some things, some authors might be. So consider this me taking the bullet for writers everywhere.
LBL1: But what if you’re wrong? What if the number thirteen really is unlucky and this interview totally screws your career?
LBL2: I’ll take my chances. It wouldn’t be the first time my career has been totally screwed. Plus, I used to have an all black cat, I’ve been third on a match, and I’ve been known to walk under ladders. Ask me nicely and I might even open an umbrella indoors or run with scissors for you.
LBL1: Running with scissors isn’t considered unlucky. It’s just reckless.
LBL2: It’s unlucky if you trip over the ottoman and impale yourself.
LBL1: Now you’re playing with semantics. Or maybe—I know!—you’re just trying to distract me from asking real questions?
LBL2: No. I’m just waiting for you to ask a real question.
LBL1: Fine. I will. You don’t expect me to go easy on you just because you’re…you know?
LBL2: Not at all. I expect you to be the perfect bitch you always are.
LBL1: Wow, you really know how to smooth talk someone who’s in a position to help you. Maybe this is why you’ve never gotten further in your career.
LBL2: I’m sorry, which one of us are you again?
LBL1: I’m the one who currently holds your paltry career in my hand.
LBL2: And the question was…?
LBL1: What’s your process like?
LBL2: You cannot be serious. You’re going to ask me tired and hackneyed questions? Next thing, you’ll be asking me where my ideas come from.
LBL2: The Idea Fairy. I get visitations several times a year. I’m very lucky in that.
LBL1: And the other question? The one about process?
LBL2: I refuse to answer on the grounds that the question annoys me. I’ll put up with it from other interviewers but I will not entertain a question from you that contains the word “process.”
LBL1: You’re a tough person to like.
LBL2: I could say the same for you.
LBL1: So make us like you. Share one of your worst reviews so we can feel sorry for you, if that’s possible.
LBL2: But there are too many to choose from! Honestly, you don’t have nineteen books published without engendering a fair amount of hatred. I can share an interesting story about serial hatred. There was one blogger who wrote a review of one of my books, detailing her hatred of it.
LBL1: I’m still waiting for the interesting part to kick in.
LBL2: It was fine that she wrote a detailed pan. But she didn’t stop at that. Rather, each time anyone anywhere would write a positive review, she would pop up in the comments section reiterating her hatred. She’d even pop up occasionally to comment on reviews of other books, saying how much she hated this particular book.
LBL1: And how did that make you feel? Did it make you feel…bad? I’m pretty sure our readers would love it if you felt bad.
LBL2: Not at all. It was more like I was intrigued that someone would expend so much energy in such a pursuit. What could be the motivation? Naturally, I was tempted to ask, “Mom? Is that you?” But of course I know better than to talk back to reviewers.
LBL1: You had six novels published for adults and one anthology before starting to write YA. I take it you’re just another one of these writers cashing in on a hot trend?
LBL2: Not at all. I was writing what I thought was a book for the adult market when it occurred to me that based on the voice, I was writing something else entirely.
LBL1: How serendipitous for you. Do you know that’s a phrase you use a lot, “not at all?”
LBL2: Not at all. Why? Are you accusing me of being tired and hackneyed?
LBL1: What do you really have against Jonathan Franzen? Did he kick your dog or something?
LBL2: I’m not a dog person—I’m a cat person!—and I have zero against Jonathan Franzen. In fact, I’m guessing that if I met him, I would like him. After all, it’s not his fault the New York Times wants to marry him and have his babies.
LBL1: What novel, other than one of your own, do you wish you’d written?
LBL2: Are we talking from this year? An adult novel?
LBL1: Why not? Knock yourself out.
LBL2: Kings of the Earth, by Jon Clinch. Not that I could write something like that, but it’s amazing. It’s a shame the New York Times only acknowledged the most brilliant book of 2010 with an off-the-mark throwaway review. Maybe if they hadn’t been busy covering Mr. Franzen’s launch party and that thing about someone stealing his glasses, they might have had some more inches for it.
LBL1: How about in YA? What book do you wish you’d written there?
LBL2: Freeze Frame, by Heidi Ayarbe.
LBL1: For children?
LBL2: Almost anything by Roald Dahl. He is the gold standard.
LBL1: Which interview that you’ve conducted as “The Disrespectful Interviewer” has been your favorite?
LBL2: Which of us is conducting this interview again?
LBL1: Just shut up and answer the question.
LBL2: Technically, it’s impossible for me to make you happy on both counts at the same time. Be that as it may, it would be almost impossible to pick just one. Each of the interviewees we’ve had here—well, except for the current one perhaps—I’d love to go out drinking with all of them. That said, Joe Konrath was a standout. In a publishing business where nearly everyone is singing the theme song from Smallville—“Somebody Save Me”—Joe doesn’t expect to be saved by anyone but himself. Of course, I could just be saying that because Joe’s interview being the last one I did here, there’s been less wine between me and it than between me and all the others.
LBL1: Which of your books have you been most disappointed in, performance-wise?
LBL2: The adult novel Vertigo. It had good pre-pub reviews, including one from the Boston Globe comparing it favorably to Ruth Rendell, and early foreign-rights sales to Japan and Sweden. And then it just fell off the face of the Earth. Some books, you understand why they don’t do as well as you might like them to but that one will always be perplexing to me.
LBL1: You and me both. What do you love most about being a writer?
LBL2: Again with the puffball questions! But very well. The thing I love most is the actual writing. Almost everything else is just noise.
LBL1: What do you like least about being a writer?
LBL2: I don’t know about least but I very much dislike how unhappy so many people associated with writing and publishing are these days. I get that these are tough times—I’ve had tough times—but none of us have it hard in the way that so many in the world do. I must say, it’s beginning to get to me. Along those lines, I get the feeling that we’re nearing the end of this dog-and-pony show, and I prefer to end on a positive rather than a negative, so do you think you might ask me another nice question?
LBL1: You’re not asking for mercy, are you?
LBL2: As a matter of fact, I think I am.
LBL1: Ohhhhh…fine. What else do you love about being a writer?
LBL2: Vain as it is to say it, the fan mail, in particular the fan mail received for The Sisters 8 series. In addition to the letters from kids, their parents and grandparents, there was one from a teacher in New York saying she had a special-needs student whose recent success in school, newfound enthusiasm for reading and increased self-confidence she attributed to the series. When you’ve written books for adults and then you go off into writing for teens and younger, you get a lot of “When are you going to write another real book—you know, one for adults?”
LBL1: Hmm…well, yes…I’ve been known to ask a question something like that…
LBL2: The thing is, nothing resulting from anything I ever wrote for adults equals that one letter from that teacher.
LBL1: How nauseatingly touching.
LBL2: I knew you’d say that. And of course I’d still love to write more books for adults too. I even have some ideas.
LBL1: Oh, stop trying to pimp yourself out here. So, tell me: Why do you like writing for BiblioBuffet?
LBL2: Because it stretches different writing muscles and I’m fond of the management.
LBL1: You do know which side your bread is buttered on!
LBL2: Yes, well, just barely. You realize, don’t you, that this interview has contained far more questions and answers than your usual interviews here?
LBL1: Yes, I’m normally anal that way. I ask exactly twenty-two questions and receive twenty-two answers in return.
LBL2: We’ve far exceeded that.
LBL1: I guess because this was something different, I felt the need to give the people something more. Do you think they’ll see it that way?
LBL2: Ah, who knows how readers will ever see anything? All you can do is do your best and then let it go.
LBL1: I must say, I somehow envisioned you spilling more beans in this interview. I’ll bet you know where a lot of the publishing bodies are buried.
LBL2: Perhaps some other time. Maybe when I decide to hang up my writing spurs I’ll be ready to burn all the bridges.
LBL1: Now we’re both talking in clichés!
LBL2: Yeah, well, you started it.
LBL1: I don’t have to put up with this. I’m going to watch “General Hospital” instead, see what’s going on with Brenda and Carly. You can stay here and natter on all you want to.
LBL2: No, that’s OK. I think I’d rather go with you.
Win a free copy of The Education of Bet! We will be giving away a copy of her latest young adult novel, The Education of Bet, to this week’s lucky winner. To enter, send us an e-mail with your name. That’s it. For this drawing, all names received on or before Friday, November 5 will be entered, and the winner’s name will be drawn that evening. We will notify the winner over the weekend. Only one entry per person, please. (We apologize to our international readers, but due to high postage costs we can only mail books to U.S. addresses.) There is no obligation, and your name and address will not be saved by BiblioBuffet or used for any purpose other than mailing the books.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted has sold twenty-three books to six publishers since 2003. Her published novels include The Thin Pink Line and Vertigo for adults; The Education of Bet for teens, Me, In Between for tweens; and the first five of The Sisters 8, a nine-book series for young readers, co-written with her novelist husband Greg Logsted and their ten-year-old daughter Jackie. Later in 2010 she'll have two more books published, including the sixth title in The Sisters 8 series and the YA novel The Twin's Daughter. Lauren still lives in Danbury, CT, where she writes and reads pretty much all the time. You can read more about Lauren’s life and work (and contact her) at her personal website and the Sisters 8 site. Contact Lauren.