Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can you visit/Skype with my class/book club/bookstore?
A. I would love to! Contact me on my contact page and we'll see if we can arrange it!
Q. Are you a lesbian?
Q. Any plans for a sequel to "Fans of the Impossible Life"
A. Not at the moment!
Q. Is FANS available in my language/country?
A. Check the list at the bottom of the page here!
Q. Where can I find you on social media?
A. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.
Q, What inspired you to write FANS?
A. I am committed to writing queer, feminist stories. With FANS that meant looking at the complexities of being a queer teen and the ways in which we navigate friendships and love and sexuality at that age. As far as feminism goes, I wanted to write about complex girls who are in the middle of discovering and claiming their own identities for themselves (although see my upcoming second book for my true feminist manifesto.) It was important to me that FANS explore the intensity of the friendships that we make when we’re teenagers, when we’re still figuring out who we are, when other people become clues to different possibilities about the ways we might be able to live and be. We are learning about ourselves through each other, and that’s not always an easy process. So all of that, mixed in with my love for the book “Brideshead Revisited,” created the spark that became FANS.
Q. Why do you love "Brideshead Revisited" so much?
A. Find out here!
Q. Did you really perform in an eight hour long version of "The Great Gatsby" for eight years and write and edit FANS onstage while you were performing?
A: Yes! Read more about that here!
Q. Is the Governor Bradford in Provincetown a real place, and is Dana a real person?
A. Yes! Read about that here!
Q. When did you decide to become a writer? If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
A. I’ve always been writing, but I started writing with the hope of publication around twelve years ago. It was a decade of work before I sold a book. I was making theater and performing that whole time, and theater will always be my other life.
Q. How did you get an agent?
A. Through blind querying (after doing a ton of research).
Q. Are Mira, Sebby, and Jeremy in FANS based on any of your friends?
A. They each come from parts of myself, people I know, and bits of “Brideshead.” There are details about Sebby and Rose that I stole from high school friends, parts of Jeremy that owe a debt to Charles Ryder in “Brideshead” (Sebby is an obvious tribute to Sebastian in that book) and Mira has a lot of me in her. I like to say that the book is fiction but the feelings are real.
Q. Why do you like writing about/for teens?
A. Writing FANS for me was about looking at the phenomenon that we face mostly in adolescence, but sometimes in adulthood, where we’re not really equipped to deal with the intensity of our own experiences. It’s the place where emotion can cross over into madness, which makes it sound bigger than it actually is. It’s often very small, just about getting through the day. And when we feel incapable of coping on our own, we often seek out other people who seem to have some answers about things. Maybe they’ve figured something out that we haven’t yet. YA is the perfect place to be looking at the many ways in which intimacy manifests in our relationships and friendships beyond those that are easy to categorize.
Q. How does sexuality factor into this?
A. Especially as teens, we’re still defining ourselves and our ideas about our own sexualities so much. Often even our platonic friendships become a kind of exploration of intimacy. My characters Mira, Jeremy, and Sebby feel pretty lost on their own, but they find strength in being together, and the ways in which they negotiate the dynamics of their intimacy is not something that can be easily labeled. Of course, if you’re coming at a relationship with that much intensity and need, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble when the person you need something from is no longer in a position to give you that.
Q. Who are your favorite characters in the classic 1994 film “Reality Bites?”
A. I watched this movie again recently and realized that the ones I really cared about when I was a teenager were Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn’s characters. So - the too-loud, zany, “chubby” best friend with crazy style and the gay guy. And I feel like Fans is my way of reclaiming those characters and giving protagonist status to the people that I care about and relate to.
Q, If Fans and/or the characters had theme songs, what would they be?
A. The unofficial theme song for the whole book is “Closer” by Tegan and Sara. “You & Me” by Diamond Rings is another one. Then Mira’s theme song would be “Every Single Night” by Fiona Apple. Jeremy gets “Hot Knife” also by Fiona Apple. And I would give Sebby “Something Else” by Diamond Rings.
Q. What’s it like co-hosting The Kate & Vin Scelsa Podcast with your father, free-form radio DJ Vin Scelsa?
A. It’s a lot of fun! We started this summer when Dad retired from doing radio after almost fifty years. He has all of these great stories and recordings from that half a century - interviews that he’s done with everyone from Joey Ramone to Lou Reed to Allen Ginsberg. And his career represents this critical cultural moment in radio and music and the history of New York that I personally find really fascinating. So I’m mostly doing it because I want to hear these stories and recordings, and it’s just a lovely bonus that podcast technology makes it so easy to share that with other people. You can find The Kate and Vin Scelsa Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.
Q. Do you have any writing advice for aspiring writers?
A. Why yes, I do!
The most important thing that you can do as a writer is learn to understand and nurture your own relationship to your writing. You have to know why you write and what it means to you, and prioritize protecting that above all else. If you make that relationship the most important thing, then you will be able to weather all the noise of the rest of the stuff that goes along with being an author. All the times when you show your work to someone and get a disappointing response, the struggles with editing, with submitting, with rejection, with trying to stick with it in the face of a world that is really going to make you keep knocking on that door to get your words out there.
If you want to be a professional writer, you are going to need persistence. And persistence comes from good old fashioned stubbornness. But it also comes from knowing that you NEED to do this. You NEED to write. Why? Maybe it makes you feel good, it puts you in charge of your own narrative, it allows you to daydream, it helps you process your thoughts and feelings, it lets you live lives you would never be able to live. Maybe it lets you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. Maybe just the act of creating something new is joyful and exciting to you. Whatever it is, know what that thing is and honor it.
And when you start on a new idea, give yourself all the freedom in the world. Don't limit yourself. Don't limit where you can write, or what you're allowed to write. Write the things that scare you, that you think will scare other people, that are secret, that are weird. This is how the good stuff comes in. You need to give it freedom. Make it feel safe enough to show itself to you. Later there will be fixing and re-working and improving, but you need to get the wild stuff down first before you can even think about taming it.
Also, be very, very patient with yourself. The struggles you are having are the same struggles everyone goes through in trying to live a creative life. The struggle is part of it.