Interview with LAURIE GRAFF
Laurie Graff, author of the bestselling YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, has also written the novels LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG and THE SHIKSA SYNDROME. She’s also a contributor to NO KIDDING, COMPLAINT BOX NY TIMES, LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIE, and SCENES FROM A HOLIDAY.
What are you reading right now?
I just last night finished reading Ellen Burstyn’s autobiography, LESSONS IN BECOMING MYSELF. It is amazing how you think you know someone’s background and how blindsided you are by their persona. She really overcame huge familial obstacles alongside having a spirit that created a lucky streak. Of course no one’s life is linear, and the story of what she did to heal herself is compelling. She said something so astute that the moment we accept it (whatever it is) is the moment transformation begins.
What first sparked your interest in writing?
Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher, and Tama Janowitz. I was reading all of those women in the 80s’ and just got into the whole “look inside the urban single girl’s head” and started to write down the stories I was telling to my friends. And they came out with a “voice” that was me, but not. It was a writer’s voice. Since I had been working up till then as a professional actress it was a pretty cool surprise.
What do you love the most about writing? The least?
I love when I get lost in it and hours go by and I had no idea how that even happened. And when that is not happening… well, I like that the least.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
I think about it as I’m walking, at the gym, running, on the subway, and then I go. It’s a movie in my head and I just let it spill. I don’t like to outline or make notes. I like to know what happens next and organically let it come out. There are points when I must write and organize but mainly I like to let it spill.
What are your passions?
Outdoor cafes, having wine anywhere near or on water, affection, great humor, food, beautiful environments, themed parties, fashion, the tradition of Judaism, New York City, theater, romance, and the great magic that can surprise us in life.
What inspires you?
Feelings I get from 70’s music. All the passions I just mentioned above. And people who manage to overcome their fears.
Did you know without a doubt what you would write about in your NO KIDDING essay or did you have a few topics from which you narrowed it down?
I did not know what I would be writing until I was writing it. But that first image of being up in the country at sixteen years old with my friend outside her bungalow hanging the laundry popped into my head when I sat down to write. And I kept from there.
Was if difficult writing about something so personal?
It was clarifying to discover I really felt that way. I love the personal essay. You don’t worry about plot twists; it is just making a point for what has already happened in life and how you already feel. My brother asked why anyone would want to share that, but to me it is encased in a literary package and so I don’t feel exposed. But I do feel I help share a point of view that is helpful and interesting to others.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write. Write what you want and do it just for you. And then worry about whether or not it’s “something.” Just self-express.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
I wrote in my essay the best is yet to come and I really want that to be true!