Lizzy Acker, the author behind Monster Party and, recently visited the KQED studios (full disclosure: she didn't have to travel far; she works here!) to record an episode of The Writers' Block. Get to know her a little better with this Q+A, in which she talks about her reality TV problem, whether she prefers Tia or Tamera, and much more!
Monster Party is quite the rager. Young people smoking a pack of cigarettes at once, breaking hearts, and generally getting themselves into trouble. What made you want to tell this story? Are you as hardcore as the Lizzy from your book?
Lizzy Acker: It's funny that you ask that question that way because I think the reason I wrote this book is I am not nearly as bad ass as the Lizzy in Monster Party and I always sort of wish I was. I've only ever smoked one or at the most two cigarettes at one time, for example, and now I don't even smoke any. Also, let's say hypothetically, if someone were to pay me to clean their house, I would definitely spend the whole day cleaning it and not leave after half an hour with the money, no matter how hung over I was. Writing these stories for me was sort of like experimenting with what would happen in the world if I were tougher than I really am, and drunker and meaner and cooler.
You're a San Francisco girl. What are the top five things you love about the city?
LA: 1. Cable cars, even if they cost an arm and a leg and your dignity. 2. The ocean. Let's be real, it is insane to live with a wild, scary ocean waiting to eat you up touching one side of your city. 3. The weather. I grew up in Oregon and didn't realize until I moved here that it being February didn't mean that you had to want to die. 4. The chili verde burrito at El Metate on Bryant at 22nd. If you look on Google Street View you will see me there. My face is blurred out but I'm there. True story. 5. The attractive and interesting-looking people. They are everywhere. They don't talk to me or look at me but they make my eyes so much less bored!
You mention the Home Shopping Network and a television gem by the name ofSister, Sister in the book. What other guilty pleasures have you by theneck?
LA: I have a serious, medically diagnosed reality TV problem. My dad has gone so far as to tell me he would rather I do heroin than watch another season of The Bachelor franchise, but sadly I don't want to do heroin. And The Bachelor is just such a glorious train wreck. Also, Teen Mom and The Jersey Shore. I don't have an actual TV or cable so I have also been known to fly to Massachusetts to visit my cousin who has On-Demand and we watch Toddlers & Tiaras and I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. For awhile, when I signed on to Netflix, 8 out of the top 10 choices for me were different seasons of Intervention. Like I said, it's a problem.
Sophie's Choice: Tia or Tamera. Explain.
LA: So obvious. Tia. She's the smart one and the pretty one. She makes Tamera look like a troll.
What kind of kid were you and what did you want to be when you grew up?
LA: I was a talkative kid with buck teeth who read books like a crazy person and wanted to be a lawyer and then president. I also looked like a sort of feminine boy, built ineffectual tree houses and, according to some people, emotionally and mentally tortured my adorable little brother. Me as a kid is pretty hard to describe. Luckily, my grandpa had a camcorder.
Who's your celebrity crush?
LA: RIP Heath Ledger FOREVER! And Seth Romatelli of the podcast Uhh Yeah Dude and the Britney Spears film Crossroads.
What's the first book that made you fall in love with language?
LA: I remember one moment when my dad was reading us Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and doing these amazing voices and we were laughing so hard we couldn't breath. That's when I understood what words could really do.
You're on stage at a karaoke bar. What are you singing?
LA: "Mmmbop" and it's terrible.
What are you listening to these days?
LA: I just started listening to The Weeknd yesterday and I think my life is completely changed. Have you heard "Colors?" "This is love, not a club." So good. I also have been listening to the song "Holocene" on the new Bon Iver album pretty much on repeat for a month. Oh! And what about Lil Wayne? New song, "She Will." I like it a lot. Lil Wayne and I were born on the exact same day, if you're wondering why we have so much in common.
If you could invite 3 people (dead/alive/fictional) to your dinner party, who would they be and why?
LA: One of the people who painted the cave walls from the movie Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a human being from 30,000 years ago. I have a lot of questions for that guy. Kim Jong Il. I want to know what is really going on in North Korea and if he really does love tap shoes. My mom, because she is hilarious and friendly and good at asking questions and the cave man and Kim Jong Il would open up to her right away. Plus, she would make some delicious food and some strong, tasty cocktails, which we would need to get all our ice age/dictatorship questions answered.
If you could live inside one movie, which would it be?
LA: It's a toss up between 10 Things I Hate About You, Rushmore, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Starship Troopers.
If you could visit any other time period and place in history, which would it be and what would you do there?
LA: California, before the white people came. Probably the island that the real woman who the book Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on lived on in the Channel Islands. I would swim, eat fish, and hand out antibiotics.
Listen to Lizzy Acker's episode of The Writers' Block at kqed.org/writersblock. And be sure not to miss each episode as it becomes available by subscribing to The Writers' Block podcast!