Author interview with Sarah Protzman
My journalism career began on a copy desk in Grand Junction, Colo., at a newspaper where I later became an A&E writer and dating columnist. I now work in Manhattan at Condé Nast Publications have written freelance pieces for New York Magazine, New York Resident and Prevention.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
“Standing Room Only” is my first book. It’s the story, written diary-style and as it unfolded, of buying a one-way ticket to NYC in early 2007 at 24, without a job or apartment. It’s about creating a life from the ground up and all the happiness and struggles that accompany starting from scratch.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve been writing since I could read. At 8, I wrote stories about two mice, Marshall and Raymond, who solved mysteries that often involved dinosaur footprints. Much later, I was a music columnist for my college paper at Mizzou, and after graduating was hired in Colorado. While on the copy desk, I became a dating blogger in the early stages of our push toward better Web content, and later replaced the A&E writer when she left.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a copy editor at a fashion magazine, and basically I geek out on pivotal issues such as hyphenation, dangling modifiers and semicolon placement. I work from 1-8 p.m., so I use the morning for book marketing, running errands, exercising, watching Netflix, or sometimes (ok, often) sleeping in.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
Self-adhesive corkboards, a lot of magazine dummies, and a sign my coworkers have come to love — think a NO SMOKING sign with the word drama where the cigarette would be. There are many divas in fashion journalism (the men too), and I’m just not that into that.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Jhumpa Lahiri has a gift unlike any I’ve seen. Chuck Klosterman’s essays are pure hilarity and very insightful. Michael Cunningham’s Â Home at the End of the World changed my life, as did many of Hemingway’s works.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
• If journalism didn’t exist, I’d want to be a singer/actor/dancer.
• I hate beer.
• I have been bitten by an emu, a goose, a cat and fire ants — though not simultaneously, of course.
7. Favorite quote
“You can learn how to be you in time.” –Lennon/McCartney
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
Best: The rare times when you write something you think is really good.
Worst: That print media is disappearing and the industry as a whole is in real trouble.
9. Advice for other writers
Read as much as you can. Think critically about everything you read and hear. Listen to how people talk and what they focus on when they do. Let your words, both spoken and written, be unpretentious and authentic, clear and accessible.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
I once did a story where I went undercover as an aspiring rock star. I told several psychics my goal was to be performing on stage in New York City in six months. Each said my palm/the tarot cards/their intuitive powers indicated it would definitely happen. As an aside, one of them threw in, unprompted, that I would never bear children.
Where can people learn more about you and your book?
It’s all happening at Standingroomonlybook.com.
Great interview with a very promising young author. I’ve read the book and enjoyed it immensely!
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