When we first met our intrepid heroine, Kristen Buckley had published her first novel, the fun and fabulous The Parker Grey Show. Now she’s out with a new memoir called Tramps Like Us and being the glutton for punishment that she is, she subjected herself to another PopGurls 20 Questions.
1. What made you decide on a memoir this time around, instead of, say, the further cat-suited adventures of Parker Grey?
After Parker Grey, I went through this strange “I want to be Don DeLillo” phase. It was bizarre, I spent months working on this novel that was all dark and subversive and frankly rather twisted (in a Don DeLillo kind of way of course). I sent it in to my agent Richard Pine, who has a very deep voice and a keen eye for genius, and he said: “It’s confusing.”
Knowing Richard as I do, I took this to actually mean: “Why do you want to be Don DeLillo? You are so much better looking that he is.”
I plodded along for a while, and worked on some movies. Then one day, while taking a shower I asked the muses (who often frequent showers), “What the hell am I going to write about?” and the answer that came back was “Yourself.” And there it was.
2. Any stories your siblings forbade you from using? Which, or course, you probably can’t say here, considering they forbade you and all, but can you give us a hint?
There was the one about how my sister tried to shag the dog, but I left it out (just kidding). There was also the one about the frozen dildo that was mistakenly defrosted by my mom (who thought it was a leg of lamb). I wasn’t forbidden from using that one — I just forgot it until a friend of mine reminded me, though by then it was too late. I think I’m going to post it on my Wikipedia entry if I ever manage to get it up.
3. How’s your dad taking the book, since he’s not exactly portrayed as a shining beacon of fatherhood? Are you grounded? Cut off from your allowance?
Obviously you can’t write smack about someone and not be able to stand the heat so I’m quite comfortable inside this flaming inferno kitchen of mine. In my defense a very wise person once said of my father that he would’ve driven Gandhi ‘to violence.’
That said, I think my dad’s head is probably going to explode into a thousand tiny pieces and maybe he’ll call Oprah or something and drag me in for a coal raking… Still that did wonders for James Frey’s sales, so hell, maybe I’ll phone Oprah myself.
4. On your website, you list a near-sexual assault of your stepsister by one Mr. Jiggs, orangutan. Yet there is not story chronicling this in your book. How can an orangutan story NOT make the cut? That’s literary GOLD right there.
Just to clarify, it wasn’t my stepsister who was assaulted, it was Becky the Runaway. Ultimately, I don’t get into the nitty-gritty details of the Jiggs’ assault because it really boils down to a he/said – she/said type of scenario and since Jiggs isn’t with us anymore I felt it best to remain impartial.
5. If Tramps Like Us were to ever be optioned, who is the ideal you?
Such a difficult question, though one that I have been thinking about. I shall try to answer as best as I can. Obviously the bulk of the book chronicles my teen years — so, with that in mind:
In a perfect magical world – (you know, where spontaneous dance numbers were the norm) I would put Julia Roberts in a time machine and use her to play me in the big glossy studio picture version.
For the gritty, independent version, I would cast Miley Cyrus. Hopefully this would be the breakout role that would catapult her out of the Hannah Montana cesspool in which she appears to be currently mired.
The Lifetime Original movie would star Hayden Panettiere (the blonde chick from Heroes) for no other reason than I like her name.
Lately I’ve been thinking it would be funny to do sort of ‘blind casting’ in that you cast someone totally wrong for the role and just go with it. For instance, maybe a man could play me. Isn’t Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan? I think it would be funny to see Forrest Whitaker play me – but never mention that he is a man or super tall, or that he has a wandering eye or that he’s a different race than me. Just play it straight. I find the prospect of this to be endlessly amusing in a post-modern/Andy Warhol kind of way. Sadly, Hollywood doesn’t agree with me.
6. You openTramps Like Us up with a very bizarre story involving Bruce Willis, The Color of Night and nuclear threats. Is this a New Jersey legend, or just something the state tourism board decided to float out there to see if it upped Jersey’s cool quotient?
Amazingly enough that’s totally true! I met one of those Submarine Spy Guys at a party and badgered him for hours. Prowling around the oceans in stealthy submarines? I wanted more! I kept trying to get him drunk, and then I’d lean in and whisper, “Just tell me one nuclear secret…only one and I promise I won’t tell a soul.” All the while I was texting my best pal saying “I’m about to get some nuclear secrets!”
Much to his credit (and my chagrin) Submarine Spy Guy gave me nothing. However, he did tell me about The Color Of Night and how Bruce saved the world. I tucked that story away, knowing one day, there would be a place for it.
7. Your book cuts out as you move into your crappy, though slightly hip, lodgings in NYC. Any stories from the Hotel Greystone? Or is that your next novel?
I’m saving my adventures from the Hotel Greystone for my next book. I’m thinking it should be some sort of arty comic type thing that McSweeney’s can publish and it will no doubt feature the Lobotomy Lady.
8. Doing any book tours/readings for this book?
I’m going to be at BookSoup in LA on April 25th, and at Womrath’s (my favorite book store ever May 3rd) And in a personal homage to Robert Cormier, I am going to be going to High Schools to drum up support from a very under-represented, under-appreciated reading audience… (the 16-18 crowd).
9. Learn any good Korean from your siblings?
Mostly just curses. But I can order in a restaurant pretty well.
10. I believe in our last interview, Parker Grey was a suspense thriller type movie optioned with Kate Hudson attached. Anything going on with this? Or is it in the dreaded land o’limbo?
We got so close on that one. The one yard line I’d say. It was a great script too. (sigh) But as so often happens everything that can go wrong did. Basically Karma bit me on the ass. Just as the movie was about to get green-lit the studio put another producer on it, and that producer was not a fan of mine (due to a prior bridge burning incident involving me with a Molotov cocktail and said producer on aforementioned bridge) and she ended up killing the project. I say it rather casually but I was pretty devastated about it for a good long while.
11. Your latest movie, The Accidental Husband, is currently filming. Any horrific stories of studio intervention you can share, a la the tragic swapping of Barbie for Elvis incident in the Parker Grey script?
I was brought on to re-write that so I’m sure someone else has the tragic story. But I will say I love Uma. She is so nice and unassuming and at our first meeting – which occurred on my birthday – she brought me a cupcake. On the downside, she’s super tall and when she hugs me I only reach up to her stomach area. This causes me to feel very childlike and unsettled. After a few of those childlike hugs, I began to take a different approach. Now when we part ways, I always try to position myself properly. This sometimes involves shoving her to the street so I can stay on the curb, or casually jumping onto raised walkways (because everyone does that!) so that when we do hug, we are more cheek to chest than cheek to stomach.
12. Read any good books lately, or too busy writing them?
I recently read Nicole Krauss’ History Of Love and am still reeling from its genius. It was so so so good. I’m also currently reading Kevin Brockmeier’s A Brief History of The Dead, which isn’t nearly as grim as it sounds. In fact it’s quite brilliant.
13. Do you watch Lost? And if so, have you learned to hate it with the fiery passion of a hundred burning suns? Because I, and many of my friends, have, and we are considering starting a club. Care to join? Or at least think of a kicky name for us? And, if not Lost, any other show getting your panties in an annoying wad?
OH. MY. GOD.
It is so funny you mention this because I am angry and disgusted with Lost. It’s like a cute boy that you really wanted to love but then it turned out he was just a drip. Which makes me think… it’s kind of like Goran during the infamous Lunch of ’02! But I digress. Lost is infuriating.
I want answers. They give me flashbacks.
I want Sawyer to lose the beard and bathe. He just gets hairier and sweatier.
I want Kate to tell Jack what she did. She persists in long drawn out looks that go nowhere.
I want to know why pregnant Sun is not starting to show
I want to know who all those extras are walking around in the background.
And why does Henry have so much power?. And why are his eyes so watery?
And why doesn’t Locke just tell everyone about how he couldn’t walk before. What’s the big deal?
I can’t take much more. I’ll join the club.
14. Newest TV obsession?
Well it was Rome. But that’s over, though I’m still sort of clinging to my halcyon Pullo/Vorenus haze… I’ve been watching it over again and it’s just as good the second time around. I’m hoping to get into The Tudors as I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers is hot but I’ve got the Roman stink on me and I’m having trouble getting past all the codpieces.
15. I am currently in the throes of freaking the fuck out due to a grad school application deadline. You, too, being in a high pressure job with things like deadlines, must also have periods of “crapcrapcrapcrap”-ness. What are your favorite relaxation techniques?
I find that weeping in the fetal position really does wonders for the soul. Have you ever seen Broadcast News? Holly Hunter’s character wakes up each morning and weeps. It was supposed to be sort of tragic, but now that I’m older I realize it was just cathartic release and not indicative of the fact that her life was her work and she wasn’t married and had no kids. I mention this because I’ve got kids and I still weep. So, my answer is weep… then have a shot or two of espresso and use hemorrhoid cream to mask the puffy eyes because you must ‘never let them see you weep.’ That’s pretty key.
16. What ever happened to that book you were working on about the girl being stalked by her alter ego? Still in production?
Girl stalked by alter ego was the DeLillo confused phase. Refer to question 1 for further details.
17. For a short while you had a blog. You stopped updating aeons ago. Just decide that that was a bit TOO internet geek? Or was the daily pressure to be witty too much? Which we understand. Wittiness does not come cheap, it comes at great mental cost. We can empathize.
No, the server moved and somehow I got lost in the shuffle. Then I tried to start up again but my posts were lost and I just sort of had a freaking the fuck out moment and decided I’d get back to it but then I didn’t. It’s still a sore spot. I shouldn’t have given up so easily. Maybe I can get a gig with you guys as a guest critic or something… It’s true though wittiness does not come cheap. Thinking up posts was draining.
18. Can you give us a behind the scenes perspective on the pimping-a-book process? Does the publisher give you any assistance, or do they just kind of say “Hey, we printed it. Get out there and whore yourself, Miss Buckley. Good luck!”?
It’s pretty much the latter – though I will say in my case I have a brilliant editor and a tireless publicist. I complained a lot about the lack of help from the publisher with my first book (The Parker Grey Show) but my spiritual guide Simon Doonan – who is just so brilliant for so many reasons (among them that he is married to Jonathan Adler) gave me the best three pieces of advice regarding publishing.
1. As hard as you worked writing your book is as hard as you will work to promote it
2. Count on no one but yourself
3. Courage… (only he says it with a French accent)
19. Amy was pretty much done with her Joey Fatone lust issues. And then came Dancing with the Stars. The poor girl’s a smitten kitten again. Ever get over someone, and find yourself sucked back in? Like, did Goran have a particularly intense bit of pouting over a patient on ER and you found yourself swooning?
I’m so over Goran. I never recovered from our lunch. I had a brief moment about a year ago with a young rookie pitcher (Brad Halsey/Oakland As) who is a major POA (Piece of Ass) and I was indeed a Smitten Kitten. But then his ERA skyrocketed and he grew his hair sort of longish and I lost interest. Since then, I’ve been decidedly smitten-less…
The worst part is that I try to be a smitten kitten – I tell myself ‘Yes, I will obsess about him’ but it just peters out. Kind of like a pair of shoes that you buy because you’re bored. You wear them once then they sit in your closet collecting dust.
20. I currently am unable to stop calling people “ho.” As in “what up, ho?” No one is safe, including my mother. I have no clue why, and it’s usually out of my mother before I realize I’ve uttered it. In fact, half the time I wouldn’t even realize it came out of my mouth if my mom didn’t go “excuse me”. Anything you can’t eradicate from your vocabulary, no matter how hard you try?
First off – the image of you saying ‘What up, ho’ to your mother is just too funny. I’ve never said ho or it’s counterpart beeoch, much though I admire those who do. I was saying ‘true dat’ for a while and then decided it was very un-Don DeLillo like of me and stopped. I say ‘douche’ a lot. Also and I’m sort of digressing – the literal French translation of ‘shower cap’ is ‘douche bonnet.’ I have one of those mom’s who wears a shower cap (I think it’s a generational thing) and I take endless pleasure in asking her if she needs her ‘douche bonnet’ before she hops in the shower.
But my favorite word I suppose is the oft-dreaded C word. I know that there’s potential girl power backlash in that but I have so many English friends and it just seems to have such a nice solid way about it. Plus, I feel like since I’m a girl I can say it. And I enjoy having that ‘I have one, therefore I can say it’ power. Though I don’t really use it to describe people as such. If we’re talking elements of style – I usually go with it in adjective or verb form as in:
c*nty – adj. (It was really c*nty that your sister didn’t send you a birthday card)
c*nting – verb. (My car ran out of gas and now I am so c*nting late for this meeting)