Author Interview - Lauren Mechling
Author I draw inspiration from: The late English author Barbara Pym is my all-time favorite. I discovered one of her novels, The Sweet Dove Died, in the bookshelf of beach house I was visiting one summer, and I’ve been re-reading and pushing her novels onto my friends ever since. I love her wit and her sharp eye. Most of all, it’s her affection for unconventional weirdos that I appreciate.
I take inspiration from her path as well: She was nearly forty when she published her first book, and she was forced out of public view when her publisher of several books decided that her work was too old fashioned. The English poet Philip Larkin changed her life when he wrote that she was the most underrated writer of the 20th century. Her amazing (and not remotely old-fashioned) novel Quartet in Autumn was published in 1977, and it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Favorite place to read a book: An airplane. My experiences reading in the air are mind-bendingly intense. Something about the vacuumed-off atmosphere beefs up my attention span and makes me more susceptible to crying.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: Jackson Brodie, the ironic and (I imagine to be) handsome leading man in Kate Atkinson’s wonderful detective series. I’m so happy he’s back in action (Atkinson took a break to write her historical novels but Big Sky and I share a publication date—what an honor!).
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: I can’t remember a moment I didn’t know it.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: Paperback. I like to write in my books. Marking up a hardback seems like an act of desecration.
The last book I read: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. This book is a devastating tale about two African-American boys who are sent to a reform school from hell in Florida in the 1960s. I can’t wait until my children are old enough to read it.
Pen & paper or computer: Computer. My handwriting is abysmal.
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: Bridget Jones. She might be a pain in the butt with all her personal crises, but I feel like she’d know how to crack me up when I went to her with my day-to-day dramas.
If I wasn’t an author, I’d be a: I’m a journalist as well, and I love the way the two jobs balance out. Reporting stories is a way to ask strangers nosy questions (my specialty) and, more important, get outside of my head and into other people’s heads.
Favorite decade in fashion history: New York in the 1920s. The banged bob would be hard to pull off, though.
Place I’d most like to travel: Kyoto during cherry-blossom season.
My signature drink: Mezcal tonic.
Favorite artist: Three-way tie: Alice Neel, Edward Hopper, and Pierre Bonnard. Weird for a comic writer, but I’m a sucker for melancholia when it comes to art.
Number one on my bucket list: Hmm. I have a recurring fantasy about learning how to play the cello.