Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Interview with Stephanie Kuehnert
Stephanie Kuehnert is the author of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, which is released today. I, personally, can't wait to pick up this book -- it looks amazing. :)
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is your first novel. Where did the idea come from?
Two different characters came to me, Emily and her mother Louisa. I wrote separate short stories about them both. Emily wasn't a musician at first. But I had a friend who really liked my first story about her, and he wanted me to write a second story about her and when I wrote that one, her love for music really came out. Then I decided I wanted to write a book about female musicians to pay tribute to all the women who rock that I admire. And eventually I figured out how Louisa's story connected to Emily's and that gave the book true depth.
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is all about music. Do you play any instruments?
I've tried. I own a guitar. I've taken lessons on a few occasions. But I spend so much of my time writing and reading that I've never practiced enough to get good. And if I can't easily make sounds like my favorite musicians, I'd rather just listen to them instead.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I first knew I wanted to be a writer when I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. I was probably about five or six. I knew then that I wanted to record what life during my time period was like the way she wrote about life out on the frontier. I used to mentally compose my autobiography back in grade school. But it was pretty boring, stuff like, "And she walks to her locker to get her coat…" So I decided to set fictional stories during the time period that I grew up in instead because that would be far more interesting.
What is a day in your life typically like?
Well, I'll describe a weekday because weekends are much more random. I get up around 7ish, which is pretty awful because I have insomnia and it's hard to get up that early. I get dressed and feed my three cats who are always insanely hungry. Then I head off to work. I take the 'L,' which is our public transportation train system in Chicago. I have a bit of a walk to and from the 'L' and I spend about 20 minutes on the train itself and god knows how long waiting for it. I listen to my iPod and think about stories and observe stuff through my whole commute. I wish I could read on the train, but it makes me sick. I pass a cemetery on the way to work, which is how I get character names sometimes and I work in the medical district so I see all sorts of interesting chaos on my way to the office.
My job is a basic administrative assistant job at the UIC College of Nursing. My parents are both nurses, so I like working in a nursing school, but to be perfectly honest, I'd much rather be home writing. I always work out on my lunch break, which is more iPod/brainstorming time, that is when I'm not too swept up by whatever is on VH1 or MTV.
I cook dinner when I come home from work. I'm vegan and really enjoy finding great recipes. I eat dinner while I watch my taped (not TiVoed because I'm not that high-tech yet) soap opera of choice, One Life to Live. (Yeah, I bet you didn't see that coming from the punk rock girl author, huh? I've actually learned quite a bit about writing from soap operas.) After that, I settle in for a couple hours of writing. I try to cram in time with my boyfriend, but usually we just talk in bed right before we go to sleep. Well, I attempt to go to sleep. That sometimes takes a long time because of the insomnia.
Were you one of the kids in school that actually liked to write their English papers, or did you not like writing in high school?
I liked writing my papers as long as I could be creative with them. I enjoyed the teachers who really let you put a creative spin on your analysis of a book or history or philosophy. If I had to write in a really dry academic way, I hated it.
Do you listen to the kind of music that Emily listens to? If not, what do you listen to?
Yes, I'm mostly into punk rock like Emily. But Emily also has very eclectic tastes and so do I. I listen to everything from Nirvana to Johnny Cash to Pink to The Distillers.
Many authors get inspiration at very random times. What was the most random time that you got any inspiration for I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone?
My random inspiration usually comes while commuting, probably just because I spend so much time commuting. I figured out the way that Lousia's and Emily's stories would come together and basically the whole concept behind IWBYJR while I was waiting for the train. This is when I was still in college, and my train stop by school was a subway stop. So I was in this dank underground tunnel when inspiration hit and I had to pull out my journal to jot it all down. This is always awkward because the train usually comes when you've got your stuff all splayed out and you have to somehow get a hold of it all and jump on the train and there hope there is an open seat so you can keep writing.
How did I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone change from the first draft to the draft that is being published?
Oh it has changed a lot!!! It was actually a novel-in-stories at first, which means each chapter stood alone like a short story, but I eventually decided it would be better if I smoothed the transitions between each chapter and made it a regular novel. Also it was much, much longer. I told chapters from Emily's dad's perspective and from Louisa's best friend Molly's perspective, too. I miss some of those sections and will put them as outtakes on my website, www.stephaniekuehnert.com
For more information on Stephanie Visit:
Have a great day, everybody. :)