Thursday, May 17, 2012

Word for Word Author Series at Bryant Park

Sara Barron, Ali Wentworth, Justin Halpern at Bryant Park 

I love when the warmer weather is here because that means the return of Bryant Park's Word for Word Author Series on Wednesday afternoons. This year's kickoff was May 16th with author Sara Barron (People Are Unappealing: Even Me) interviewing author/actress Ali Wentworth (Ali in Wonderland and Other Tall Tales) and author Justin Halpern (S&*t My Dad Says and I Suck at Girls).


All three are funny people and Sara's questions were well crafted, (except for one that lost the audience and the authors). She asked the authors to describe themselves and Ali said "I'm a very elegant lady and I feel for the underdog. I can see I have my hands full with you two."

Justin said of himself, "I'm going for nebbishy Jew" to which Sara replied "Mission accomplished."

All three agreed with Sara's assertion that "writing is romanticized" as a profession, and if they are to  be believed, it's a lot of sitting around, fooling around on the internet and finally, at the end of the day, writing one good line. It must take them forever to finish a book.

Describing a "day in the life of a writer", Ali said that she gets up at 6 (her husband Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopolis wakes at 3am), gets her kids up and takes them to school, comes home and drinks lots of English tea, paces a lot, shops online, looks up plastic surgery websites, writes a line and then picks up her kids from school.

Justin says he just follows his dad around with a pencil. He "eats breakfast, farts around on the internet, writes a line, hates it, more internet" and the day is done. He wrote for sitcoms and said that "95% of the time in the writers room is wasted", so either way, he wastes a lot of time.

Sara asked what they would consider a good day of writing, and Ali said "if I don't fall asleep" it's a good day. Justin said if his wife laughs at his stuff, he knows it's good.

Sara asked about pet peeves, and Ali relates that her husband is the serious one, so when he reads something of hers and says "that's funny, but you know what would be funnier?", it makes her crazy. (She talks about that in her funny book.)

Both of their books are about their parents to great extent, and Sara asked how their parents felt about the books. Ali said that her mother "was on the brink of a breakdown" and was afraid that Ali was writing a Patti Davis or Mommy Dearest type book, and even enlisted Ali's siblings to contact anyone they knew at HarperCollins to stop the book. (It wasn't necessary, the book is really a love letter to her mother.)

Justin's dad made him sit next to him while he read the book, which was excruciating. His dad said "Page 86- when have I ever hopped into a car? I don't 'hop' into anything."

I like this series because instead of just a reading, the authors discuss their process and craft of writing. It's always an enlightening afternoon, plus it's outside and a sunny day, it's just beautiful.

The Word for Word series schedule can be found here.
I reviewed Ali's book Ali in Wonderland on the blog here.
Ali Wentworth has a web show, The Daily Shot, on yahoo that is very funny.
Sara Barron's website is here.
Justin Halpern, who owes everything to Twitter and his dad, can be found on Tumblr.

2 comments:

  1. I can't believe this started already - I am determined to get there this year - let's make some plans! I think Jen Lancaster is there later in the summer (maybe just before or just after BEA). I have been in Groton for 3 weeks with a big project but I hope to be back in the city soon!

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    1. Yes, we have to meet at Bryant Park! Hope all is well with the project and that we see you back in the city soon. Will you be going to BEA at all?

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