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Q and A

Sep 23, 2010; Wag Asks:

Excuse me but WE ask the questions around here! I helped make the video, but a guy named Derek from Oklahoma did the shooting/editing, etc. Drugs? That's not really the point. There will be no rave dancing! This is more a worlds fair type thing (at least that's the intention...

Sep 22, 2010; Miranda Asks:

Hi Stacey. You are the best author I have come across in a long time by far. I LOVE your books. Do you have plans to write any more anytime soon? If not, what authors do you like and would recommend to someone who likes your style of writing?

Stacey answers:

Thanks, Miranda. I'm writing a novel now but it probably won't be out for a while.

As for my style of writing, it's sort of weird how I don't even know exactly what it is--I think it's like having an accent, it's hard to recognize your own. But off the top of my head, some great writers who write funny-strange short stories are Kelly Link, Amy Bender, George Saunders, and Karen Russell. But there are so many more!

Sep 15, 2010; Wag Asks:

Hi Stacey! Do you remember a question I asked a while back, filled with worry about the state of the country and how little stock people put in things like science? Well, I've found a project I'm helping out with called "Re Evolution". I'm working in the Production/Logistics department and I couldn't be happier! You should check out our Kickstarter page! What do you think of it?

Stacey answers:

Cool! I love robots on fire. Did you make that great film?

I sincerely hope you're planning to have a bowl of drugs by the entrance door.

Sep 09, 2010; Incog-Nikita Asks:

Hi Stacey, Could you talk a little bit about finding an agent? I think the story is that one found you (you told me this years ago, in some other context) but in general, how does that go about happening?

Stacey answers:

Yes, I got a letter from my agent, so she basically found me. It was weirdly easy. Honestly Incog, I have no idea how to go about finding an agent. But since I have male answer syndrome, I'll throw out some suggestions. You could ask someone who teaches in an MFA program--they probably know what some of their students did. You could ask our oracle, Google. You could call an agent's office, be nice to their assistant, and ask how a person goes about finding an agent. You could go to the library and see what kind of info you find there.

Sep 04, 2010; Someone who totally isn't Stacey. Nope. Not at all. Asks:

Which currently-alive/-relevant (so, Abe Vigoda doesn't count) celebrities do you have the biggest crush on? Pick at least 1 from each sex, please.

Explain you answer.

Be specific.

Your loving interrogator,
Someone who is NOT you

P...S... This also isn't Liam. No way.

Stacey answers:

Okay. Boys: Tom Hardy, because he's got all that sexy charisma. Clive Owen, because he loves me, I'm pretty sure. Sacha Baron Cohen, because I'm just so right for him. Tiger Woods, because he sounds like fun and I want to have Ambien sex.

Girls: Britney Spears, because it's fun to have sex with crazy people and I love her weird wide-eyed face. And Megan Fox: no explanation required.

Aug 21, 2010; littleshirlybeans Asks:

Dear Stacey, I want to send you pictures of our vacation together aka "Our Date With Stacey Richter" (the one to Tucson involving David Sedaris), can I send them to the email address that's here on this site? I promise they are not creepy and I am not creepy. I just don't want to post the link for all to see. I sort of took your advice about the derby name. My name is...Malice in Derbyland!!! Thanks for your help. Finally, how do you suggest I deal with violence in my writing. Most of my ideas for stories have been violent lately and this is a new development. I started one recently and it just became more and more violent with every word and it kind of scares me. Suggestions? Lots of love from New Mexico! Littleshirlybeans

Stacey answers:

Hi Littleshirly, Yes, just send them to I'm excited! If I don't get them I'll post further instructions here. I love Malice in Derbyland--you gals sounds scary and cute.

Try not to be too disoriented when violence pops up in your writing. Go with it if you can. Violence is a form of conflict and conflict is what makes fiction chug forward. Though it may make you feel like a freak, remember that everyone has violent thoughts and fantasies. Nuns, ballerinas, woodworkers, veterinarians--they all carry around images of stabbing their mothers and strangling the UPS man and removing other people's heads. But sometimes these thoughts are beneath the surface, since civilization requires a certain amount of repression so we can function as social creatures. Women, especially, are taught to do some nice repression in this area, which is why we're disturbed when the violence shoots to the surface like a balloon we were holding underwater and forgot about. Oh no, what's that? It's violence! What does it mean? It means you're a normal person! It doesn't mean you're depraved or unnice or a budding sociopath. But it might mean you're angry. That can be scary, yes. Things that inspire anger are usually things that hurt you, with anger forming a scab around the wound that starts to bleed if you pick at it. No one likes doing this. But the weird thing is that no one likes not doing it either. Sometimes you have to pick at the violent-angry-pain scab. Itís part of making art. Which is another reason why making art is not exactly pleasant.

Aug 19, 2010; Have you ever... Asks:

posed as someone posting a question so you could just answer something that happened to be on your mind? What I'm asking is, are there fake posters among us?

Stacey answers:

Yes, but I don't do it that often. I usually do it when I have something on my mind or feel forlorn that no one's asked me a question for a while. The first-ever two questions were my own because there was no one else around and I wanted to set the tone--one is about writing, one is about boys.

Not that you asked, but if you want to look them up, here's a list of all the pseudonyms I've used for self-posts, going backward in time: One Who Wonders, The Wonderer, Philibert, grape popsicle, Beehive Hairdo, Papusa of the Night, Official A, Chrysalis, Leela Johnson, INVADED, Bunny Hat, and Cree-8-ive.

It sounds like a lot but it's not that many. It includes all the questions with pictures in the answers (these are mostly pictures of insects, but there's also a REAL NOTE from my mother), a plea to young writers not to move heavy objects (since my back became so fucked from moving heavy objects), a plea to post reviews of Twin Study on Amazon (completely ignored), and some thoughts on writing sex scenes. So most of the question are real. The fakes often have a public-service slant. Do I feel guilty? Yes, I feel guilty. From now on, I'll make all the fake ones come from Cree-8-ive. She has questions. Lately she has questions about grammar and usage, but she's been holding back.

Aug 19, 2010; Wag Asks:

Hello Stacey! How's this idea: You write a book and make a short (2-3 minute) film of one section of the book. Post that film on and solicit pledges to publish the book yourself! What do you think?

Stacey answers:

I don't know--what's Kickstarter? Also, there's one tricky section in this scheme that I tripped over, the part where you say: "You write a book."

Okay, I looked up Kickstarter. That's a great site! I don't think I need it right now, since I've been able to find commercial publishers for my books, so far anyway, and I don't want to suck up people's charity seed money if I don't need it. But I bet there's a lot of writers and artists who could get things going with that.

P.S. I finally answered your question about hand-washing from a few months ago.

Aug 08, 2010; Liam (aka Asks:

How do you feel about the Oxford comma? I know you're a Strunk & White girl, so I'm curious to see how you respond.

Your dashing, courteous, and elegant acolyte,

Stacey answers:

Uh, is that the same as the serial comma? I always use it, except when describing sweet little bunny rabbits. I though everyone used it, but what the hell do I know? I still can't spell half the words in the English language. My favorite style writer, by the way, is Bryan Garner. Modern American Usage is great, and though I know it doesn't sound promising for general writers, I still find his The Elements of Legal Style to be totally bitchin'.

Aug 02, 2010; Paul Asks:

Stacey, This is a bit strange to admit, but for years I have carried around a line from a book review of yours. In it, you call Katie Roiphe "a doofus." Since she struck again yesterday in the NYT -- fave bumper sticker that never was: Katie Happens! -- I felt forced to look up your old review. I saw that you actually wrote "Katie Roiphe is an idiot." I'm wondering if you could explain the difference between a "doofus" and an "idiot." Why is Roiphe the latter and not the former? And, if you could: can you recommend a remedy for her situation? Thanks! A Loyal Fan

Stacey answers:

I'd say a doofus is a goof mixed with a clown, like a grownup dude with excess thirteen-year-old-boy residue left inside of him. The doofus will yell "arrggh" from the window of a moving car because for a doofus, this is fun. An idiot, by contrast, is someone who possesses quite a bit of mastery yet suffers from a constitutional inability to think straight. It's common for idiots to be smart and accomplished: plenty of doctors, for instance, are big fat idiots. Idiothood can be disorienting (and sometimes destructive) because it manifests itself as a blind spot in the center of the idiot's expertise. Since in the New York Times article, Katie Roiphe misunderstands the modern culture she's analyzing and inserts her own psychological landscape in its place, one might be tempted to put her in the category of idiot, yes. But I have to say, I feel really bad for calling her that, and I sort of think she's a fascinating writer. I understand that people might be annoyed by her prose, which veers toward the overwrought, but it also has the quality of being a true cri de coeur. I mean, she really means it. She deeply, honestly believes that Mad Men, a show all about repression, is a show all about partying. And that she is forever excluded from this party.

Maybe it is a little confusing though, because I don't think she's dead earnest about every single thing she says. I'm sure she realizes that most of us don't go through agonies in the diary aisle. She's going for style. She's using hyperbole. If I were her editor, I'd suggest she use the first person rather than "we" since it can be difficult, as a reader, to be included in Roiphe's puritanical world (I don't know about you, but I'm totally drunk right now). I think she doesn't mean the we literally as a we. I think she means it as an I.

Is there a remedy? Good question, Paul, good question. For doofuses, time often takes care of the problem. A little maturity, a few backfires in the doofus behavior, a broken arms or a DUI, and you're on your way to being an ex-doofus. Idiothood is trickier. Seeing clearly, and knowing the difference between your inner self and the outer world is a valiant goal, but I don't know how to teach that. A clear-sighted intellect is rare and often earned at a great price: pain, illness, craziness, loss, time, plus luck. How did Joan Didion get to be Joan Didion? Go figure. But somehow she knows how to look at the world and to look at herself and find the deep, resonant commonalities. She's done this, by all accounts, while knocking back martinis and smoking her brains out and raising a child and writing movie scripts and living in bad neighborhoods and, from time to time, going to the grocery store in her bikini. Maybe there's a lesson in that, as we wage our own battles not to be idiots.

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