Novelist Andrea Seigel

We did this via email (Andrea returned the answers Sept 23, 2006).

* To what extent do you identify with your protagonists in your two novels?

they're all, at the very least, slivers of me. so if i didn't identify with them, then i'd be someone completely alienated from herself.

* How did your friends and families react to your novels? Particularly the first one?

everybody was congratulatory. they expect this kind of shit from me.

* How long have you had this cynical persona? What things are you naive about?

i've had it internally since, probably fifth grade. externally since, probably, ninth grade. i'm naive about what "being in love" means to other people.

* You signed your email "andreaa." Why the extra "a" at the end?

that's kind of a long, boring story, but it's partly because 1. when typed, i dislike the visual symmetry of my name (starts low, swoops up, returns with an equal and constant lowness on the other side) and 2. because in the days before the internet i used to be a bbs'er, and my handle was "andreaa," so i got really used to signing off that way.

* How do you feel about the work of Brett Easton Ellis?

i think it's genius, and not in the empty way that a lot of people throw around genius. i literally think what he's doing with his endless combinations of various levels of assholes are evidence of an extraordinary intelligence.

* What causes your right eye to twitch? I have the same thing. For me it is lack of sleep.

i have no idea, but it hasn't been twitching since i returned from new york.

* How do you feel about your author photos and how do you choose them?

i'm pretty indifferent toward the first one. i'm living with the second. i chose the first because i had this look on my face like, "what can you possibly want from me?" which i thought was appropriate. when 'panda' came out, this girl in a book club called to tell me that the members of her club had spent a half-hour discussing how bad that author photo was. they thought i looked like an unattractive slob. they wondered why i "hadn't done more with myself." i chose the second because it was one in a set of ten that all looked almost exactly identical, so there wasn't all that much of a choice. i wore a smocked strapless romper-type thing that i liked because it reminded me of my childhood, but my publisher cropped out my clothing. i generally don't like any photos of myself.

* In your blog, you say looking sad is your nature. Is that true? Do you struggle with depression?

yes. this is true. i have a naturally sad face when it's at rest. some people confuse sad with mean. i would say that i struggle with manic-depression, minus the bouts of stealing.

* How did you like Catcher in the Rye?

i liked it fine. it's not one of my favorite books. it was one of the smoother reads on my sophomore year a.p. english syllabus.

* When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

a lawyer.

* What did your parents want most for you and from you?

what they want most for me: stable success from me: a softer nature

* What's the story of you and God and Judaism?

oh my god, this is like writing my torah portion speech. i can't do it again. the short story: i was bat mitzvahed right around the time i became an atheist. when i get on a plane, i talk to something and say, "please, please, please let this be okay." i think that if there's any sort of power capable of hearing those kinds of thoughts coming from all people, then that power doesn't give a shit about who's following what kinds of rules or rituals, since it can obviously see straight into people's psyches and figure out the truth of that person's beliefs within a nanosecond.

* What are the juiciest things your peers say about writing and their careers as writers?

they say nothing juicy. i'm serious. i mean, we often talk shit on specific people, but there's nothing particularly scandalous to be said about writing. it's one of the unsexiest endeavors ever.

* In what ways are your perceptions of life keener than other people's?

i can't answer this question without sounding like an asshole, and while i often sound like an asshole-- i'm just not there tonight.

* How has your choice of vocation affected you, relationships?

it has nurtured already overwhelming loner tendencies in my personality. it has, i'm sure, prevented a lot of relationships and damaged some, too. it has been good for my thinking and bad for pretty much everything else in my life.

* How do you know when you've done good work?

a little voice in my head says, "good girl." i'm not kidding.

* What have you sacrificed to be a writer?

the excellent health coverage i was getting at the disney channel.

* What do you do best and worst as a writer?

best: voice. worst: plot.

* Why do you write what you write?

why do you rent the movies you rent?

* Were there any events in childhood that prefigured your adult work?

i think pretty much every single social gathering i encountered past the age where i was allowed to just sit in the corner and drool and talk to my stuffed dog went into making my adult work what it is.

* What do your books say that has not been said before?

again, another question requiring an assholic response that i just don't have the heart for tonight.

* Surely you feel that your view of life that is unique? How so? How do you find your understanding of life differs from everyone else?

i do. but you can't talk about these things. because supposedly everyone is a huge, fucking mess inside. that's what i hear. all i know is that while everyone may secretly be struggling in the room at a party, i'm repeatedly the only one in the room incapable of even attempting a public fake-out.

* How important is it that your reader sympathizes with your characters or likes them?

well if people are capable of simultaneously hating and loving themselves, then i'm fine with them hating my characters, too, since that doesn't preclude the love.

* How has your writing affected your life?

it's both sustained and wrecked it.

* Do you like your protagonists?

they have their moments.

I Love Novelist Andrea Seigel

Here are some excerpts from her blog:

June 15, 2004

I just got back from my first ever TV interview, and I'm still unsure what this was in reference to, but the first thing Connie Martinson said to me was, "Well, I don't know if you knew this interview was going to be for TV, but if you're fine with that, then I am too." You might be thinking that the "fine" talk was in reference to the taping of the interview, but it was actually directed more, as far as I can tell, at what I was wearing. I think Connie was dissing my threads.


September 5, 2006

"When are you getting off?" someone suddenly yelled. There was a teenage girl standing directly at my right, bouncing breast and she was staring up at me without any self-consciousness, so I understood right away that she was mentally disabled. "Give me fifteen minutes." She gave me two, and then came back to my boob again. "Are you getting off now?" she asked. "It hasn't been fifteen minutes," I said. "Now?" she asked. I believe that it's condescending to treat people with mental or physical handicaps or ailments any differently than you would were they without these handicaps or ailments. This is why, even though my mom sometimes tries to pull the cancer card with me-- "Andrea, I cannot argue with you right now. Not when I'm going through all of this"-- I proceed to argue with her anyway, because if I didn't treat her like I always treat her, what would that say about the power of the cancer? (Incidentally, her cancer numbers are dramatically lower and I wanted to put up these cancer numbers to illustrate, but my mom bitched me out on the phone yesterday saying that that information was personal, that I should just let everyone know she's doing well, and I argued, "How can those numbers possibly be personal?") I thought to myself, "This girl seems to be around five-years-old mentally. And would I get openly annoyed with a five-year-old had she been asking me basically the same thing every two minutes?"