The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born, raised and schooled in Texas and I’ve never left for more than a week or two.
Which is sort of sad.
And now I’m sad.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be Cory Haim’s girlfriend.
When I was eighteen I wanted to be Corey Haim’s wife.
When I was thirty I just felt really bad for Corey Haim.
I don’t think I really need to go into the details.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
The ever-rising star power of Corey Haim.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
1) When I was a kid my parents used to take my sister and me to cemeteries to play because it was cheaper than going to the circus. We’d use crayons and butcher-paper to make gravestone rubbings, and then when we got bored with that we’d try to figure out the lives of the people buried beneath us using clues from the tombstones. We’d make up long, strange stories about the silent people under our feet and I always thought that whatever fiction we came up with was probably nothing compared to the real stories, since the truth is so much stranger than fiction. I remember thinking about how sad I’d be if the only story ever told about my family came from some bored kids who couldn’t afford the circus and who didn’t have enough imagination to understand the bizarre awesomeness of my dead family, and that’s one of the reasons I decided to write this book. It’s a weird reason, but a true one.
2) Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman are my favourite living authors. Every time I finish a story of theirs I miss their characters as if they were a part of my life. I aspire to one day be able to write a book that stands on that same level.
3) My 7th grade science teacher told me that I’d never amount to anything. I aim to prove her wrong. Or burn down her house.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
I have a blog, I write on an online newspaper, I used to write for a syndicated mini radio show and one time I was on the news wearing only a bed-sheet. They each had their pros but none of them allow for the depth offered of a book. I remember all of my favourite books when I was kid…the way they felt, smelled…I wanted to be part of that strange community of people responsible for bringing new stories into the world.
6.Please tell us about your latest book…
Although I’m mostly known for my columns and blogs, I’ve reserved the very best stories of my life for this book. I’ve found an audience of men and women who not only enjoy laughing at the weirdness that is my life, but who are surprised to find themselves actually identifying with the bizarrely dysfunctional-functionality that I experienced in my own childhood and that I now try to cultivate in my own family life.
In fact, it wasn’t until I started writing about all the mortifying things I’d gone through in my lifetime that I realized that all of the moments which (at the time) I‘d wanted to pretend had never happened, were actually the very best moments of my life…the ones that made me me.
And that’s why I wrote this book: To celebrate the strange, to give thanks for the bizarre, and to one day help my daughter understand that the reason her mother appeared mostly naked on Fox News is probably the same reason why her grandfather occasionally brings his pet donkey into bars: Because you are defined not by life’s imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. Because there is joy in embracing -rather than running screaming from- the utter absurdity of life. (And also because it’s illegal to leave an unattended donkey in your car, even if you do live in Texas.)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
I’d like for someone struggling through high school to read this book and realize that it gets better, and that being strange or weird is sometimes a wonderful (and terrible) thing.
My mom. She’s the nicest and strongest person I’ve ever met and she has no idea. She thinks she’s just some background character in life, but she isn’t. She’s the one that makes it all go and she does it with no expectation of acknowledgement. She simply is good for no other reason than it is the only way for her to be. I aspire to be more like her.
9.Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I try not to make goals for myself because I never accomplish them but if I had to I’d say that my short term goal is to finish this senten
10.What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Find your voice. Trust your editor. Don’t become a hermit and die alone because your cats will eat you.
Jenny, thank you for playing.
Thanks for having me! Did I win?
Yes, yes you did.
“The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn’t be laughing and probably you’ll go to hell for laughing, so maybe you shouldn’t read it. That would be safer and wiser.”
-Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods and Coraline
“There’s something wrong with Jenny Lawson-magnificently wrong. I defy you to read her work and not hurt yourself laughing.” -Jen Lancaster, Author of Bitter is the New Black, Jeneration X, Bright Lights, Big Ass
“Jenny Lawson will make you laugh again and again – at things you didn’t even know were funny. And what’s more, she can write. What she knows about pacing, punchlines, setups and surprises could fill a book. Lucky for us, it’s this one. – Katherine Center, author of The Bright Side of Disaster, Everyone Is Beautiful, and Get Lucky
“Jenny Lawson is hilarious, snarky, witty, totally inappropriate, and ‘Like Mother Teresa, Only Better.’”
-Diana Vilibert, Marie Claire
“Jenny Lawson’s writing is nothing less than revolutionary. Her humor is touched by humanity, her cynicism laced with self-deprecation. I say this without a hint of exaggeration: She may be one of the most progressive women’s voices of our time.”
-Karen Walrond, author of The Beauty of Different
Here’s a questions for readers :
Do you think you’d have the guts to write a ‘warts and all’ memoir?
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.