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.
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?
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.
What teacher or professor changed your life, if any?
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.
Are you good at keeping secrets? If so, who can vouch for you?
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.
What’s the last great book you read?
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.
Who is your favorite Beatle?
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.
How do you procrastinate?
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.
What do you proselytize for?
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.
What’s your favorite condiment?
Salt. Salt goes on everything.
What’s the ugliest piece of furniture you own?
The Ikea desk chair.
Where did you get your glasses?
I got them at Gogosha Optique in Silver Lake.