SpeakEasy Blog

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 for KQED, the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate.

On November 16, she will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, The Virtue of Vices, alongside Steve Almond, Alex Segura, and Cutter Wood. We spoke to Ingrid ahead of the show.

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

Some of my earliest memories involve running down the stairs in the morning so I could snatch and smell the newspaper before anyone. I was addicted to the smell of newsprint. I remember impatiently looking at the letters, anxious to know what they said.

What is your favorite line from your current work?

“War always seemed distant from Bogota, like niebla descending on the hills and forests of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”

What is your favorite first line of a novel?

“He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.”—Orlando, Virginia Woolf

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read voraciously, deconstruct the books that you love, show up for your community, pay it forward, and write as much as you can.

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

Isabel Allende. I simply adore her.

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

Not sure I understand the question. Like a writer who is not yet published? I love Juliana Delgado Lopera, her book is coming out next year from Feminist Press.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading Friday Black. It’s so good y’all.

What fictional character do you most closely identify with?

Alice in Wonderland. I once had an accident where I lost my memory and I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that things are somehow, possibly upside down/inside out?

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

I’d live in the house described by Borges where I could every once in a while peek into the cellar and look into the Aleph.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”―Rebecca Solnit

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

Seriously Questioning…Laura Spinney

Laura Spinney is an author and science journalist. She has published two novels in English, The Doctor and The Quick. Her third book of non-fiction, Rue Centrale, came out in 2013 from Editions L’Age d’Homme (in French and in English), and her fourth, a tale of the Spanish flu called Pale Rider, came out in 2017.  She also writes on science for National Geographic, The Economist, Nature, New Scientist and The… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo’s ​collection​ Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors​ include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review. Air Traffic, a memoir in essays, was released by Knopf in… Continue Reading

Barnes & Noble
Hughes Hubbard & Reed
Joe's Pub
Citrin Cooperman