Wanna know what’s going on in BookBizVille? Well, there’s only one place for one-stop snooping and that is at Sarah Weinman’s CONFESSIONS OF AN IDIOSYNCRATIC MIND. Razor sharp observations, always the first with the inside scoop, delectible books featured on ‘Pick of the Week’, an international readership comprising of some of the biggest names in the biz – and one of the most widely read blogs on the net. I mean, hell, even The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today (just to mention a few), have talked about CONFESSIONS!
Oh, and then – between commercials and the weather report – Sarah contributes to Galleycat (a terrific publishing news blog), does a crime fiction column for the Baltimore Sun, and is the fiction editor for SHOTS. In her spare time (?), Sarah writes short fiction-which has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and published in Dublin Noir, Baltimore Noir and Damn Near Dead. I won’t list all the prestigious newspapers her articles and reviews have appeared in – well, maybe just a few – how’s Newsday? Or, the Globe and Mail for starters? We won’t even get into the fact that Sarah has an M.S. in Forensic Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I mean, enough with the envy, okay? It’s bad enough to feel so under-accomplished, did we need to know that too?
I was yakking with Sarah the other day, and this is what we talked about:
EE: My favorite new spy told me you’re working on a blockbuster tell-all about a famous literary giant who is – in reality – Carmen Electra. When can we expect to see this in the bookstores?
SW: Alas, your spy had a couple of things mixed up – that blockbuster tell-all will reveal that…Kaavya Viswanathan is really James Frey. Because A MILLION LITTLE OPALS just didn’t work at the ed board meeting, so it had to be scrapped. Even though it would have been much pithier.
Shucks. Guess that means there won’t be a guest spot on Ophra then, huh? Darn.
EE: Rumor has it that you are really one half of a set of twins. I mean, Sarah, there must be something to this – how else can you manage to do reviews, articles, write short stories and daily stay on top of every bit of news about the book biz?
SW: Not having a day job makes things much, much easier. But for this, I have to misquote Lawrence Block when he was asked how could he be so prolific: he just wanted to keep people from finding out how lazy he was. Terror borne out of procrastination works real wonders, let me tell you!
Ahem. Not that I’m prolific, but the terror thing? I can relate to that. But, seriously – I play Solitaire all the time because I like it. I mean, I don’t really look at it as procrastination. What? Really, I don’t. I’m serious here. Stop laughing, okay?
EE: Listen, Sarah – we have to get something cleared up here. The fact that you completed your M.S. in Forensic Science greatly worries your legion of fans. You’re not thinking of donning a white coat and leaving all of us news starved writers afloat, are you?
SW: Oh God no, though I do sometimes look at the job postings at the American Academy of Forensic Science and realize that no, I don’t want to leave New York. More to the point, the degree was amazing, I learned immeasurable things – but labwork and I just weren’t meant to be friends. I still think I’ll find different ways to make use of it, even if it’s just to pen crime novels in a forensic setting.
Whew. Good news for us, but maybe not for Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs. Not to worry, Sarah – mums the word. I haven’t talked to Cornwell or Reichs in days. Well, Cornwell and I actually aren’t buds anymore. I mean, she’s just gotten so stale, you know? I told her that, and she…well, never mind.
EE: Okay, let’s talk about panels. As a much sought after panelist at all the major cons, tell us who would make up your ideal panel?
SW: Anyone who has funny stories to share and an ability to keep the panel moving without taking it over completely. Because if I’m moderating a panel, it’s their show, not mine, so I want to make sure they put on the best possible one.
No names, I see. Okay, very diplomatic – very discreet – but no fun! Guess we’ll have to fill in the blanks for ourselves.
EE: Word around Manhattan is that you turned down a dinner date with Mel Brooks to discuss the intricacies of short story writing. This can’t be true, can it?
SW: He wanted to go to Elaine’s. I wanted to go to Michael’s. We had to agree to disagree, unfortunately.
Well, hell, I don’t blame you! Too bad Mel didn’t realize that Michael’s was THE place for the literati. But then, what do movie people know? Listen, chickie – you’re better off without him.
EE: Whispers are rampant that a certain hunky new writer is sending you roses and chocolates so can become a Cabana Boy. What say you about that?
SW: Roses, yes. Chocolates, no. I can be bribed, people, so please, make it chocolate, preferably 70% dark and up.
Hey, guys – are you listening out there? The lady wants CHOCOLATES! And none of that Godiva stuff, okay? Hint: zChocolate.com is the place to go. Sarah would love that nifty mahogany box filled with goodies made by Pascal Caffet (Forbes said he was the best in the world!) and it’s a bargain at $171.40. I mean, what’s a few bucks to be immortalized as a Cabana Boy?
EE: Uh, besides the bribe, er, I mean the chocolates – just what does it REALLY take to be a Cabana Boy? And further and further more – a Cabana Girl? (hint, hint)
SW: That secret is locked in the same safe that contains the exact GPS location of the Bermuda Triangle and the recipe for No 1. Pimms. And you need Top Secret Clearance, at best,to get it.
I can handle that. But, I must say – I prefer adding champagne instead of lemonade. I mean, it’s so much better with the gin and aromatics. Don’t you agree?
EE: Here’s an easy one, Sarah – the Walter Mitty dream thing. What’s yours?
SW: To be able to make a living for the rest of my life doing a wide variety of writing-related tasks. That’s the practical version. The not-so-practical version is to make my operatic debut at the Met and my jazz debut at the Village Vanguard, but then practicalities take over and remind me that I tried that song-and-dance years ago and it didn’t work.
Well, hell, Sarah – not that we (your legion of fans) don’t want you to stop writing, or keeping us up to date on the book biz, but really – your Un Bel Di rivaled that of Callas, and Diana Kral’s version of East of The Sun can’t hold a candle to yours.
EE: You’r having six guests to dinner. Who would they be,and what would you serve? Or, since most of my previous guests refuse to cook – which restaurant would you take them to?
SW: I do love to cook, but I get stressed out if I have to deal with cooking for more than one person-me. For guests, I’d limit it to writerly types: Shel Silverstein, Angela Carter, Terry Teachout, Sholom Alichem, Janine Boissard, and Dave White because he wouldn’t know who any of these people are.
Uh, Dave? It’s okay – I’ve only heard of two of them myself.
EE: Crimeville is all abuzz about that new debut writer who’s sending you hate mail because you haven’t selected his/her book as a ‘Pick of the Week’ over at Confessions – even after you praised the work. How are you handling this, Sarah? Actually, what we REALLY want to know – is who the hell is he/her?
SW: What can I say? Bloggers have feelings too. We’re not the automatons that the mainstream media makes us out to be, dammit!
Of course you have feelings! Ignore those media types. Why, you’re a fun gal -friendly, sweet, charming, full of the devil and you love No 1. Pims! But, uh, Sarah? That wasn’t what I asked you, but hey – if you don’t want to go public, that’s cool. I’ll call you later,okay? If I pick the right name, just tap on the phone with a pen, or something.
EE: Okay, Sarah – here’s a real hard one; You’re on a book tour – who would be your ideal tour mate?
SW: Jennifer Jordan, for the banter, the camaraderie and the incredible tangents. If only she’d get her damn book done, too…
I love Jennifer! Oh, to be a fly on the wall around you two! Hey, I’ve got an idea…how about if we…
EE: Last, but most pressing question: When the hell do you find time to sleep?
SW: Most of the time I get about 8 hours a night. It goes back to that procrastination/terror cycle. I’m telling you, this really works!
Not for me. I just pick up a copy of …….’s book, and I’m out like a light. I keep a copy next to my bed. It works every time.
Many thanks, Sarah – for playing On The Bubble with us – and for the absolutely terrific job you consistantly do to keep us all in the loop. A round of applause, if you please – for Sarah Weinman!
Sarah and Elaine,Thanks for the great interview.
Sarah, you still astound me with how much you do.
RE: Pims No.1 — I started drinking it in Hong Kong; it became my civilized treat when I wanted to forget that I was in Asia eating crappy Chinese college food and speaking Cantonese all the time (believe me, after several months of culture shock — even British imperalism can be slightly attractive once in a while). The fancier hotels served it with fresh cucumber and an orchid.
I’d save my money for weeks in order to go to the Pennisula or one of its peers for the drink.
Mysterydom is so lucky to have you and Confessions. Keep up that razor-sharp and discerning mind! And 8 hours of sleep, yeah, it works wonders.
Evil E is back in top form!
Elaine, another fun interview!
“EE: …on a book tour – who would be your ideal tour mate?SW: Jennifer Jordan, for the banter, the camaraderie and…”
Sarah, Brian Wiprud called you two ‘Fric and Frac’ at the ’03 B’con:http://oldbeeg.typepad.com/photos/las_vegas/bc03_269.html
Sarah, you can be bribed with chocolates? Here I thought it was massages and herbal wraps.
And I vote for making a perfume out of Pimm’s No. 1. The best smell in the world.
Frick & Frack?? Oh,damn..wish I’d know that. Hmmmm. I coulda had fun with that.
Maybe next time.
>Kaavya Viswanathan is really James Frey
ROFL. You made my day (my week), Sarah.
Hugs,Denise Dietz, one of the lucky authors who had a story published by SHOTS.
Damn, I’ve been in my cave so long that I didn’t understand the Kaavya equals James Frey reference (I’ve heard of JF).
The laugh was worth the effort to Google.
“Just a few passages . . . ”
What? A Pims No.1 at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong?? Ohhhh, Pari! What a Walter Mitty dream that would be!
Guess I’ll just have to settle for my memories of Chi Chi’s on the verandah at the Moana in Honolulu – or those almost addictive Sazerac’s at the Captain’s Table in New Orleans.
And I didn’t mention that Sarah also contributes to JANUARY MAGAZINE! See what the onset of dementia does? *&*^%!!
Elaine,You wouldn’t believe how many times I saved up my money and went to the Penninsula just to have a taste of something Western.
My best friend there and I also saved every coin to go to a restaurant named Gaylord’s that served exquisite Indian food. It was a strange throwback to imperialist England with its own china and silverware. We actually felt quite Western as we ate our chapatis.
. . . very odd indeed.
Ah, Pari! But what price such elegance? I’d have saved as well just to wallow in the history of the Peninsula Hotel! You are a lady of discernment, but then, I always knew that.
Sarah, your short stories are amazing, your columns insightful, your blog indispensible, and I for one can not wait for your full length novel. It’s gonna rock, just like you.Nice job, Evil E, capturing a moment with the Divine Miss S.
Wait a minute! I KNOW where that safe is…Geraldo told me, along with 2 million of his closest friends. It’s the same one with Al Capone’s gold isn’t it? Oh boy, wait’ll Joe Konrath finds out. I’d better hustle if I’m gonna beat him to it….I’m gonna be a CABANA BOY! Ummm, do I actually have to write to be a Cabana Boy? I read a LOT of comic books, and I’m really good with sunblock, if that counts; oh yeah, and can I brew tea…!
Sarah, you are a wondrous gift to the world of crime fiction! I think I can say that…
Hah! Sarah, I just KNEW you must have done the stage thing. Talk about star quality!
Hmm… must do something with this new insight. I feel a choreography itch coming on.
Great stuff, Ms E and Ms W –
Very funny / and loved the Pimms No1 wiffle, but best with a slice of cucumber
Cucumber, Ali??? Hmmmm. Okay, I’ll try it – but only because I trust you implicity.
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