SpeakEasy Blog

Seriously Questioning…John Wray

John Wray is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Lost Time Accidents, Lowboy, The Right Hand of Sleep, Canaan’s Tongue, and most recently, Godsend. He was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists in 2007. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Brooklyn and Mexico City.

On January 15, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, Secrets and Lies, alongside Lauretta Charlton, Nora Krug, and Carl Zimmer. We spoke to John ahead of the show.

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

My earliest memory involving reading was gawking in amazement at the tower of orange-spined Penguin classics on my mom’s bedside table. She immigrated to the US from Austria, and she taught herself English by reading Penguin Classics. Which is pretty badass, in my opinion.

What is your favorite line from your current work?

“Dear Teacher, here I am now, where you said I’d never be.”

What is your favorite first line of a novel?

“They threw me off the hay truck about noon.” (from The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t turn your nose up at porn! It’s a living!

What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?

I’d kind of like to eat dinner with my girlfriend. She’s a screenwriter. And she’s very busy.

What writer do you wish you could share with the world?

I was blown away by The Festival of Earthly Delights, by Matt Dojny. The funniest book I’ve read since I can read.

What are you reading right now?

Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind. (It’s research!)

What fictional character do you most closely identify with?

Mostly the ones that get killed in the first fifty pages. Not sure what that says about me.

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

Is this a judgment-free zone? It is? Then Middle Earth. That’s my most honest answer.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

The one that comes to mind is more along the lines of a mantra—one I was given by one of my literary heroes (who shall, for obvious reasons remain nameless): Extrude the product!

Seriously Questioning…Nora Krug

Nora Krug is a German-American author and illustrator. Krug is a recipient of fellowships from Fulbright, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Maurice Sendak Foundation, and the German Academic Exchange Service. Her visual memoir Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, about WWII and her own German family history, was… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s first novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree was an Indie Next selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a New York Times editor’s choice. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, Nylon, and Guernica, among others. She is the book columnist… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Lea Carpenter

Lea Carpenter is a Contributing Editor at Esquire and has written the screenplay for Mile 22, a film about CIA’s Special Activities Division, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and John Malkovich. She is developing her first novel, Eleven Days, for television and her new novel, Red, White, Blue, is out this fall.… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of its Annenberg Public Policy Center. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society and a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association. She is also a fellow of the American Academy… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Steven Almond

Steve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, including The New York Times bestsellers Against Football and Candyfreak. His short stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Erotica, Best American Mysteries, and the Pushcart Prize anthologies. His journalism and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Heather Havrilesky

Heather Havrilesky is the author of How to Be a Person in the World and the memoir Disaster Preparedness. She writes the “Ask Polly” column for New York Magazine, and has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. She was Salon‘s TV critic for seven years. She lives in Los Angeles with… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Raymond Villareal

Raymond Villareal is a practicing attorney in San Antonio, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas School of Law. His first novel, A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising, came out in June. Film rights have been optioned by 20th Century Fox and 21 Laps Entertainment. On October… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Reyna Grande

Reyna Granda s the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, where she writes about her life before and after illegally immigrating from Mexico to the United States. The much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home, will be released in October. The Distance Between Us is also available as a young readers edition. Her… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Joel Rose

Joel Rose was was co-founder and editor of the legendary and influential Lower East Side literary magazine Between C and D, published in the 1980s. He is also the author of the novels Kill the Poor and Kill Kill Faster Faster, both of which have been made into feature films. His other books include The Blackest Bird,… Continue Reading

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