Julie Klam's teenage daughter sits down with the writer to discuss her new book about our culture's love affair with famous people. Which may or may not be cool.
Around the time of publishing a book, you get interviewed—a lot. As wonderful as an interviewer is, they generally ask very similar questions, and the people reading more than one of them tend to stop after the first question because they need a nap. (Except my mother: She’ll read them all.)
My DAME publisher had a fabulous idea to shake up this convention to discuss my new book on our obsession with celebrity, The Stars in Our Eyes: The Famous, the Infamous, and Why We Care Way Too Much About Them (Riverhead Books), which goes on sale on Tuesday, July 18: She suggested that my teenage child, Violet, interview me. Well, Violet didn’t ask the questions you’d think she would because actually she could not care less about this book or appearing as if she does. When we were doing the interview she would ask a question and then say, “Is this enough?” (I told her if she was going to get paid for this, she had to do some work, so she typed, and thus the questions became shorter and shorter … also apparently it wasn’t enough money to get her to use capital letters, that cost extra.) So here is Violet talking to me very little about my book. If you’re interested in really hearing about it, I was interviewed by a lot of other people who weren’t trying to get back to their Tumblrs. Also, NB: I told her to ask anything, it didn’t have to be the usual “What inspired you to write this book” type of questions.
The Big Interview
Julie: It was a trailer for the movie A Wrinkle In Time. Someone put it on Facebook, I don’t know why they picked that music, but that’s what they chose.
J: Celebrities? I am very interested in celebrities, have been my whole life, and I realized a lot of other people are too. And I was curious about why. When you write a book you have to sit with a topic for a very long time, and I thought this one was one I would want to sit with. I also usually write about myself and I didn’t want to this time.
J: Not yet. But you should ask me why I didn’t want to write about myself this time. When you interview people, you should ask follow up questions.
[Violet glares at me.]
J: Who is Eric Andre?
J: Is that a YouTuber?
J: Is he funny?
J: I’ll take your word for it—I really haven’t heard of him. Guess that makes me a square.
J: There are two studies cited in the book. The first one was they gave rhesus macaque monkeys a very salty snack and they gave them a choice between having their favorite drink—cherry-flavored Juicy Juice—or looking at celebrity monkeys. The monkeys chose looking at celebrity monkeys. They then had to bribe the monkeys to look at non-status monkeys. B-list monkeys, I call them.
[Here I see I am losing her; I decide to ask her some questions. She still does the typing.]
J: Have you ever read any of my books?
J: No interest?
J: What does it feel like to have your mom be a writer?
J: Would you rather I had a different career?
J: Why do you think Uncle Matt (Matthew Klam, author of Who Is Rich?) and I are both writers?
J: Neither of them did. Bubbe read a lot.
J: Do you want to be a writer?
J: What do you wanna write?
J: A screenwriter. That’s what I wanted to do when I went to NYU. I think you’d be a great screenwriter. Can I ask you another question? What celebrity do you love the most right now?
J: Because you have a better shot at him?
J: Charlize Theron.
J: Engaged, she broke it off before they got married. Also the singer SZA and Michael Phelps, the swimmer.
J: He’s won a million Olympic gold medals. Also, he’s going to race a shark to kick off Shark Week.
J: I don’t think the shark knows. I don’t think they’re putting a bathing cap and Speedo on him.
J: Do you wanna know who my favorite celebrity is?
J: Barack Obama. He’s the only man I fantasize about—but not sexually. Is that too much information?
It’s not just about the stories. Journalism is also about who is telling them.
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