Be More Prolific than Those Mutants: An Interview with Julie Klausner

Originally posted on The Tusk:

Photo by Ari Scott, via julieklausner.com

Photo by Ari Scott, via julieklausner.com

Julie Klausner is the host of the wonderful podcast How Was Your Week, the author of the hilarious dating memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band, and of a YA Novel called ART GIRLS ARE EASY. She also writes for television, including Billy On The Street. Recently she’s been working in Los Angeles, away from her home in New York, to write for a new show called Mulaney. I emailed her some questions.

The Tusk: Tell us about Mulaney, and about your experience working on it.

Julie Klausner: Mulaney is a very very funny sitcom that has not yet received an air date from FOX. It stars John Mulaney, who is a genius. To have a front row seat to his brain was a huge privilege. Elliot Gould and Martin Short are also on the show, and they…

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Ratatouille

Pixar Easter Eggs Ratatouille Remy Dug

That shadow looks a lot like a dog we love. Squirrel!

Monsters, Inc.

Pixar Easter Eggs Monsters, Inc. Boo Sulley

There are a lot of cameos in this scene that you probably didn’t even notice because you were too busy holding back the tears.

Cars 2

Pixar Easter Eggs Mater Cars 2

This is a tough one. As Mater drives down Route 66 at the beginning of Cars 2, a marquee tells us that “The Incredimobiles” will be playing at the local theater.

The Incredibles

Pixar Easter Eggs The Incredibles

A certain speedy mentor to Lightning McQueen can be spotted amidst the action in The Incredibles.

Monsters, Inc.

Pixar Easter Eggs Monsters, Inc.

When Randall finds himself banished, he winds up in a very familiar-looking location…

A Bug’s Life

Pixar Easter Eggs A Bug's Life

…Oh yeah! We knew we’d seen this place before. Also, shout-out to the Pizza Planet truck!

Toy Story 3

Pixar Easter Eggs Sid Toy Story 3

Pixar Easter Eggs Sid

The skull t-shirt wearing garbage collector is none other than the very… erm… creative Sid from Toy Story, all grown up.

Up

Pixar Easter Eggs Up Lotso

Lotso and the Pixar ball appear for a quick moment as Carl’s house begins to float away.

Toy Story 3

Pixar Easter Eggs Buzz batteries

The fictional company from WALL·E, Buy N Large, apparently makes the batteries that power Buzz.

Cars 2

Pixar Easter Eggs Gastows Cars 2

When the cars visit France, they pass by a swanky restaurant called Gastow’s that reminds us of a certain imaginary mentor from Ratatouille.

Finding Nemo

Pixar Easter Eggs Finding Nemo

The dentist’s waiting room in Finding Nemo has some pretty incredible reading materials.

Monsters, Inc.

Pixar Easter Eggs Monsters, Inc. Mike Wazowski

Did you spot a familiar flying fish in this scene from Monsters, Inc.?

Cars 2

Pixar Easter Eggs Mater License Plate

Mater’s license plate number boasts the familiar A113…

…As does Andy’s mom’s car! A113 was a classroom number at California Institute of the Arts where many future Pixar filmmakers went to school.

Pixar Easter Eggs A113 Toy Story

Day & Night

Pixar Easter Eggs Day & Night

This is one of our favorites. The film that plays at the drive-in theater in Day & Night is the same film the dalmatians watch in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

Brave

Pixar Easter Eggs Brave

Most recently, Mike and Sulley make hard-to-spot cameos in the Witch’s cottage.

Matthew McConaughey MUG SHOT

Matthew McConaughey was arrested by Austin, Texas police in October 1999 and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a neighbor called to complain about music blaring from the actor’s crib.

When cops arrived, they found McConaughey dancing around in the buff and playing bongo drums.

The drug charges against McConaughey were eventually dropped, though the star did plead guilty to violating Austin’s noise ordinance, for which he paid a $50 fine.

Matthew McConaughey MUG SHOT

Matthew McConaughey was arrested by Austin, Texas police in October 1999 and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a neighbor called to complain about music blaring from the actor’s crib.

When cops arrived, they found McConaughey dancing around in the buff and playing bongo drums.

The drug charges against McConaughey were eventually dropped, though the star did plead guilty to violating Austin’s noise ordinance, for which he paid a $50 fine.

Woody Harrelson MUG SHOT: Actor Woody Harrelson was arrested by Columbus, Ohio police in October 1982 and charged with disturbing the peace (he was allegedly dancing in the middle of a busy road and tried to run away from the cops). The ‘Cheers’ star, 21 at the time, avoided jail time by paying a fine.

Woody Harrelson MUG SHOT: Actor Woody Harrelson was arrested by Columbus, Ohio police in October 1982 and charged with disturbing the peace (he was allegedly dancing in the middle of a busy road and tried to run away from the cops). The ‘Cheers’ star, 21 at the time, avoided jail time by paying a fine.

World’s Best-Selling Author James Patterson On How To Write An Unputdownable Story

James Patterson’s books account for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States. The wildly prolific author talks to Co.Create about how to tell a story that will hook people in.

They call it beach reading—the kind of ultra-accessible mass market paperback that nestles inside canvas bags all summer long. (And on airplanes year-round.) Considering how addictive James Patterson's books are known to be, and their inescapable popularity, the wildly prolific author is probably directly responsible for more sunburns than incidents of non-waterproof sunscreen.

James Patterson

Patterson recently earned the distinction of being the best-selling author since 2001. Just to be clear, one of the author’s books wasn’t merely declared “the #1 bestseller,” a blurb that pops up on front covers regularly. Rather, James Patterson is the top selling author in the world for the last 14 years. An estimated one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States is his, dwarfing the sales of both Harry Potter and the sparkly Twilight vampires.

The secret to this success isn’t Patterson’s uncommon productivity (he publishes at least three books a year, and as many as 13) or his range (spanning thrillers, nonfiction, children’s books, and beyond). It’s his colloquial storytelling style that grabs a hold of readers early on, instilling an insatiable need to know what happens next. While preparing to unleash a full slate of 2014 titles, the author recently spoke with Co.Create about how to write the kind of unputdownable books that cause shoulders and backs to get scorched by the sun.

Write Stories The Way People Tell Them

I think what hooks people into my stories is the pace. I try to leave out the parts people skip. I used to live across the street from Alexander Haig, and if I told you a story that I went out to get the paper and Haig was laying in the driveway, and then I went on for 20 minutes describing the architecture on the street and the way the palm trees were, you’d feel like “Stop with the description—what’s going on with Haig?” I tend to write stories the way you’d tell them. I think it’d be tragic if everybody wrote that way. But that’s my style. I read books by a lot of great writers. I think I’m an okay writer, but a very good storyteller.

Make It An Experience

I try to put myself in every scene that I’m writing. I try to be there. I try to put the kind of detail in stories that will make people experience what the characters are experiencing, within reason.

Short Chapters Keep People Reading

I’m a big fan of these two novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell Jr. They’re both very eloquent, but they have short chapters. And then Jerzy Kosiński wrote a few books like The Painted Bird and Steps that have very short chapters and I just love that style. It’s a style I evolved to. It was actually on (his 1989 novel) Midnight Club. After I read the first 100 pages, I was planning to flesh them out more, but then I thought, “I kind of like this.” It’s that more colloquial style of storytelling where things really just move along. That became my style.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Realistic

I don’t do realism. Sometimes people will mention that something I’ve written doesn’t seem realistic and I always picture them looking at a Chagall and thinking the same thing. You can say, “I don’t like what you do, or I don’t like Chagall, or I don’t like Picasso” but saying that these things are not realistic is irrelevant.

Outline Like Your Book Depends On It (Because It Does)

I’m a fanatic about outlining. It’s gonna make whatever you’re writing better, you’ll have fewer false starts, and you’ll take a shorter amount of time. I write them over and over again. You read my outline and it’s like reading a book; you really get the story, even though it’s condensed. Each chapter will have about a paragraph devoted to it. But you’re gonna get the scene, and you’re gonna get the sense of what makes the scene work.

Be Open To Changes During The Writing, Though

I know what the overarching story is when I start outlining; then I just start putting down scenes and I don’t really know what the order’s going to be yet. The ending almost always changes in the writing, though. It’s because I learned to listen to the characters. I change things. One of the drafts I do, I’ll decide that okay, it went this way, but it doesn’t feel very interesting—what if this happened instead of that? And rarely do I know the ending. Occasionally, but mostly not.

Write With Confidence, Even If You Don’t Feel Confident Yet

I have confidence that I’m going to be able to tell a good story, and that hasn’t always been the case. I remember, I won an Edgar Award when I was 26 for Best First Mystery, and even though I knew I won, on the night of, I was worried. I felt like there might have been a mistake. That’s the kind of lack of confidence you can have early on. You’re writing this thing and you hope people like it. You’re rewriting and rewriting and get lost in the sauce. Confidence is a big thing.

Know Who You’re Writing For And What They Want

People want to be glued to the page. They want suspense, and suspense to me is always about questions that you must have answered. I try to pretend that there’s somebody across from me and I’m telling them a story and I don’t want them to get up until I’m finished. John Grisham always plants a really powerful hook early, that question that makes you want to know what the hell is gonna happen to this guy or this woman. But part of it is, who are you talking to? What have you got for them? It’s useful that if you tell somebody in a paragraph what the story is and they go, “Ooh ooh, I can’t wait, tell me more,” as opposed to they were just kind of nodding politely. Well, then that just puts so much stress on the writing. That means that the style has to overcome the fact that you don’t have much of a story.

[Image: Flickr user Andrew Morrell]

MUG SHOT: Frank Sinatra was arrested by the Bergen County, New Jersey sheriff in 1938 and charged with carrying on with a married woman (yes, you could get popped for that back then). The charge was later changed to adultery, and eventually dismissed.

MUG SHOT: Frank Sinatra was arrested by the Bergen County, New Jersey sheriff in 1938 and charged with carrying on with a married woman (yes, you could get popped for that back then). The charge was later changed to adultery, and eventually dismissed.