BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interview with Emma Straub, Author of "Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures"

Hello and welcome! Today we have a chat with author Emma Straub about her book, "Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures", which was recently released in paperback. Emma is from New York City. Her first novel, "Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures", was published by Riverhead Books in September 2012. Her debut story collection "Other People We Married", was published in February 2012 by Riverhead Books. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published by Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vogue, and New York, and many other journals. She is a staff writer for Rookie. Emma lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband. A more illustrated version of this appears at M+E.

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Photo by Sarah Shatz

Bea: What was the inspiration for this book? Was there a particular actress that inspired you or was the model for Laura Lamont?

Emma: The initial idea came from reading the obituary for the actress Jennifer Jones. I was working on something else at the time, and it wasn’t going well—too boring. Then I stumbled across Jones’ obit, which was so full of drama and life and energy. I knew then that I wanted to write a book about a Hollywood star, a story that stretched over several decades.

Bea: What other book on the market would you compare your book to?

Emma: When I was writing it, I was thinking of two books, two of my all-time favorites: Stephen Millhauser’s Martin Dressler and John Williams’ Stoner. They are both very, very different from Laura Lamont, but what they have in common in that they track one person’s life, staying very close to them, and watching how things unfold.
Bea: Do you enjoy watching tv or movies? Who’s your favorite actress or actor?

Emma: Of course! I don’t think you could write a book about an actress without loving the movies, and television. I go to the movies probably twice a week. There’s something so comforting about losing yourself in the dark like that. My current favorites are probably Brit Marling and Greta Gerwig, two very differently wonderful and smart blondes.

Bea: If your book, “Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures” were made into a movie, who would your dream cast be? 

Emma: Give me the Gummers! Meryl Streep and all of her beautiful daughters! They would be PERFECT.

Bea: Can you tell us anything about your next book?

Emma: My next novel, The Good Face, will be out next summer. It’s about a family from NYC on a two week vacation in Mallorca, Spain. Funny, I hope!
Bea: Do you prefer print or digital books?

Emma: Print, print, a thousand times, print. 

Bea: Does your family read your books? What do they think of them?

Emma: You bet they do! My father, Peter Straub, is a novelist, and has written about twenty books, and my mother has run a program to get teenage mothers to read to their babies for the last twenty years.

Bea: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Emma: Jennifer Egan, Meg Wolitzer, Lorrie Moore, Tom Perrotta.
Bea: Has there been anyone who has helped you along the way or been a mentor to you?

Emma: Lorrie Moore was my professor in graduate school, which was kind of like having a goddess around all the time.

Bea: If you could be a character in a book, which one would it be, and what part would you play?

Emma: In any book? I suppose I’ll be very literal and say I’d be Emma Woodhouse, in Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m far more like her than I am like Emma Bovary.

Bea: Can you tell us a little about your work for Rookie magazine?

Emma: I adore writing for Rookie. Everyone there—the editors, the readers, the artists—is utterly brilliant and inspiring. I feel very lucky to get to hang with that crew. And what a fantastic place for smart young women. Rookie is the greatest.

Bea: What are your goals and dreams for your writing career?

Emma: Simply that is continues to exist.

Bea: When you write, are you a planner or do you make it up as you go?

Emma: I’m a planner, for sure. I write outlines for everything. They always change as I go, from draft to draft, but I like having the security of a roadmap. 

Bea: Do you think social media is important these days for an author?

Emma: I do. Anything authors can do to help readers find them is good, I think. Plus, I’m a chatty person, and writing can be lonely! So it’s nice to feel like there’s a conversation going on all day.

Thank you Emma for taking the time to answer my questions today ~ Bea 


Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Format: paperback, hardcover, ebook, audio
Genre: general fiction, womens fiction
Release Date: July 2, 2013 (paperback release)
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Blurb from goodreads:
A Bookpage Best Books of 2012 pick

�At once a delicious depiction of Hollywood’s golden age and a sweet, fulfilling story about one woman’s journey through fame, love, and loss.”—Boston Globe 

In 1920, Elsa Emerson is born to the owners of the Cherry County Playhouse in Door County, Wisconsin. Elsa relishes appearing onstage, where she soaks up the approval of her father and the embrace of the audience. But when tragedy strikes her family, her acting becomes more than a child’s game of pretend. While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Hollywood mogul Irving Green, who refashions her as an exotic brunette screen siren and renames her Laura Lamont. But fame has its costs, and while Laura tries to balance career, family, and personal happiness, she realizes that Elsa Emerson might not be gone completely. Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is as intimate—and as bigger-than-life—as the great films of the golden age of Hollywood.



  1. Aw that's so wonderful everyone in the family is connected to reading and writing. Love that the book follows one character over such a long time. You really don't see that too often.


  2. I've wanted to read this for EVER. Now that the PB is out, it may just be time ;) Wonderful interview, Emma seems awesome :-D


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