CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
In the Green Room

Novelist Janet Fitch

The White Oleander Author Was (Almost) a Groupie

Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, is currently working on a novel about the Russian Revolution; she also teaches writing at USC. Before participating in a panel on the legends and lore of the Santa Ana Winds, she explained why she (sort of) understands groupies, why she’s a good person to hear your illicit confessions, and why she proselytizes for architectural renovations at LACMA in the Zócalo green room.

Q:
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?

A:
I’ve been having dreams about my editor like every night for the last 10 days. I’m working on a new book, and I just keep dreaming about that. And I have a lot of airport dreams. I’ve traveled a lot in the last decade or two, and I always have the dream of getting to the airport, no ID, no ticket, no baggage. Sometimes I can talk my way onto the plane without anything. Sometimes I get hung up on the fact that I don’t have my luggage. Often I get onto that plane, though.

Q:
What teacher or professor changed your life, if any?

A:
The writer Kate Braverman completely changed my life. She was my writing teacher, and I worked with her for two years, and just to have someone who raises the bar that high—it did change my life. The closest I’ve ever been to being a groupie or understanding how someone could follow a guru was that experience.

Q:
Are you good at keeping secrets? If so, who can vouch for you?

A:
Oh yeah. Anybody who’s told me a secret and has told me that it is a secret—they just have to alert me. Also, it’s because I have a terrible memory, and sometimes I just forget.

Q:
What’s the last great book you read?

A:
Oh boy. I guess I’ll say Luminarium by Alex Shakar. I met him at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books a couple years ago and bought his book but didn’t have time to take it off the shelf until this summer. It was wonderful.

Q:
Who is your favorite Beatle?

A:
It’s changed over time. I was a Paul girl back in the olden days. But now I think John is the more interesting Beatle.

Q:
How do you procrastinate?

A:
I like to draw and paint, so I’ll sometimes procrastinate in a positive way. But very lately I’ve become addicted to sudoku, which is not a good thing because you play sudoku for half an hour, and you’ve lost half an hour.

Q:
What do you proselytize for?

A:
I proselytize for the reopening of the atrium of the Ahmanson wing at the L.A. County Museum of Art. They have walled off the galleries, and when I was growing up all those galleries were open, and it made the building so lively. As soon as they closed them off, it killed the building, and until the day I die or the day they reopen those galleries, I will proselytize about that.

Q:
What’s your favorite condiment?

A:
Salt. Salt goes on everything.

Q:
What’s the ugliest piece of furniture you own?

A:
The Ikea desk chair.

Q:
Where did you get your glasses?

A:
I got them at Gogosha Optique in Silver Lake.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido.
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