Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?
My favorite type of movie is one where all the characters are played by regular people -- not professional actors. Our Song and Manito fit in this category and are terrific. I also love all sorts of documentaries, including American Dream, Brother's Keeper, Grey Gardens, Paris Is Burning, and Spellbound. As for other types of movies, I really liked Amélie, American Splendor, and Best in Show.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
I need silence to write -- no music or dogs or traffic -- otherwise I can't get anything done.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading?
American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare by Jason DeParle. This new book tells the story of Clinton's welfare "reform" efforts -- how they were conceived and the impact they had on three women in Milwaukee. It's a great book, and since welfare is such a complicated and controversial subject, there's plenty to discuss.
What are your favorite kinds of books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
I like giving graphic novels -- particularly Persepolis and Persepolis2 -- and photography books. One photo book that everyone seems to like is Milton Rogovin: The Forgotten Ones.
Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
I always keep things around my desk that remind me of people who I find inspiring. At the moment, these include a postcard of Georgia O'Keeffe, a mug with Virginia Woolf on it, and a finger puppet of Zora Neale Hurston.
What are you working on now?
I'm a staff writer at The Village Voice, so that job keeps me pretty busy -- and I'm also getting ready for the paperback publication in December of Life on the Outside.
Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. Ho w long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
I got my first job in 1989 -- waiting tables in a pizza restaurant in Chicago. After that, I had three more waitressing jobs -- and got fired from two of them. I graduated from college in 1994, and I decided then that I wanted to be a journalist. For several years, I tried to make a living doing freelance pieces for newspapers and magazines. Along the way, I encountered all the usual hurdles -- editors not calling back, my bank account shrinking, stories getting killed, etc.
If you could choose one new writer to be "discovered," who would it be?
Y. Blak Moore. He's a young author from Chicago who writes like he's the next Donald Goines -- a former gang member and drug dealer whose novels are packed with the sort of real-life insight that other novelists who write about urban life only wish they had. I really liked his first novel, Triple Take, and now his second book, The Apostles, just came out.
What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered?
Follow your dreams and don't let anyone discourage you. I know that sounds like a cliché, but perseverance is probably the most important quality a writer needs.
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