Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meeting Emma Straub

Between the time I bought my ticket to the Magnetic Fields concert a few months ago and the time I attended the show on Saturday night, I had developed a secondary motivation for being there -- beyond my desire to see one of my favorite bands perform.

See, when I read The Millions' "Most Anticipated Books of 2012" article at the beginning of this year, the title that intrigued me the most was Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub, "about a Midwestern girl who moves to Los Angeles and, at great cost, becomes a movie star in 1940s Hollywood." I'm writing a play about a '40s movie star, so of course I thought "I have to read this novel when it comes out!"

And it just so happens that Emma Straub is on tour with the Magnetic Fields as their "merch girl" and maintainer of their tour blog! When I realized this, I decided I'd try to introduce myself to her at the concert and let her know that I am truly excited about her book.

So, during the opening act, I went out to the lobby and recognized Emma Straub from her author photo -- she was standing near the merch booth. Though I'm always a little nervous in situations like these, the friend I was with cheered me on, and I went up and introduced myself.

Because the Fox Theater insisted on using their own employees as merchandise vendors, Emma didn't have anything pressing to do and I was able to chat with her for a few minutes. We talked about '40s cinema (we're both Hitchcock fans) and how fun it is to watch old movies and call it "research." She also asked me a little about my play and the Olympians Festival.

According to Emma, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures actually spans several decades in the life of its heroine, from the '20s to the '70s -- so the blurb on The Millions was a little misleading. Nonetheless, I'm still super excited to read it, and Emma couldn't have been nicer or more approachable.

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures will be Emma Straub's debut novel, but she is currently represented in bookstores with a short story collection called Other People We Married -- which I want to read now, too!  Here is a video where she reads some of her fiction and Stephin Merritt plays some of his songs, in a joint appearance at the NYC Barnes & Noble earlier this month. She is also chronicling the Magnetic Fields tour for the band's official blog and for the Paris Review blog.

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