Monday, July 6, 2009





Laurie Sandell is a contributing editor at Glamour, where she writes cover stories, features, and personal essays. She has also written for Esquire, GQ, New York and In Style, among others. In her twenties, she spent four years traveling around the world, having unsavory experiences she later justified as "material."


Thank you for agreeing to an interview with BOOKIN' WITH BINGO. I have just a few questions I would like to ask.

What have you just finished reading?

I just finished reading Netherland by Joseph O’Neill. It blew me away. Now I’m reading The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. I can’t put it down.

What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out?

A number of memoirs had a huge influence on me, especially The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr, The Duke of Deception by Geoffrey Wolff, This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (Geoffrey’s brother), What Remains by Carole Radziwill, The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison and Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. These writers were so courageous in going public with their stories, they helped me to realize that not only was I allowed to tell the truth within my own family, but that sharing my story might help someone else face his or her own skeletons. There’s a saying in recovery: “Secrets keep you sick.” I think secrets kept my entire family sick, because we all worked together to deny and cover up for my father’s lies. And you simply can’t do that without paying a price, which in my case, was addiction, intimacy issues, and the loss of a sense of self. I kept it up out of fear my father would abandon me, and in fact, once I stopped toeing the family line, he did stop speaking to me. But that’s also when I started to see real changes take place in my life.

What gets you started on a new book? A character or story idea or….?

Since I’ve only written one book, I can only tell you what got me started on this one, but I do know I’ve always processed difficult life experiences through writing and art. Between the ages of seven and ten, I drew hundreds of cartoons about my dad: One shows my family in the middle of chaos; the house is a mess, my father is emerging from the basement with a briefcase of files in his teeth, and a bird is popping out of a cuckoo clock, saying, “I’m in the midst of information.” Looking through them as an adult, I saw I knew everything then. The Impostor’s Daughter began as an anonymous essay I wrote about my father for Esquire. When I finished writing that essay, I was left with more questions than answers, so I felt compelled to dig deeper. I hired a private investigator, re-visited my childhood cartoons and uncovered a mountain of evidence confirming my suspicions: My father wasn’t who he said he was. A book was inevitable—but I was driven as much by the need to find the truth about my father as I was to create art.

What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?

I’m not a snob about the process of writing. When I started working on The Impostor’s Daughter, I had absolutely no idea how to create a graphic memoir. So I read everything from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel. I looked at comics blogs, talked to authors and read as many graphic novels as I could get my hands on. I believe in grabbing every tool in the box to educate yourself when you’re a novice at something.

What is your best advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?

First, get a mentor: Write letters to your favorite authors and ask for writing advice. Take a writing class with an author you admire. Learn from the masters. There are many great books about writing out there; two of my favorites are Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. If you’re writing non-fiction, you have to be willing to be fearless. You have to know that someday your mother might read what you’ve written, and write the truth anyway. As for the process of becoming a writer, you have to be driven by the work itself, not the prospect of fame, or you’ll never get a career off the ground. I spent the first three years of my writing career working as a secretary in an investment bank and writing articles on the side. When I went freelance, I struggled to pay my rent and dealt with lots of rejection. When I was on staff at Glamour, I wrote my book early in the morning and on the weekends, whenever I was able to grab a minute of free time. And now that I’m finally doing interviews and having book parties and all the fun stuff that comes along with publishing a book, I find I’m obsessing about my next project! So I don’t see how you can create a successful writing career without having a deep, undeniable drive to write—the payoffs are too small and infrequent. But the ultimate payoff is getting to do what you love. That makes it all worth it.




According to my review of SWIMSUIT, (One of the books in the Happy Birthday, USA, July Giveaway), what was the full name of the man I described as "The man of many faces"?

You can find the review here and then click on CLUE 2 to get back to the post to enter your answer.

If you haven't started this scavenger hunt for the big July prize, be sure and follow the post's first clue and comment as instructed and then comment separately with Clue #2.