Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interview with Periel Aschenbrand about On My Knees: A Memoir

Can you tell us a little about your book On My Knees and how you came to write it?

It’s a funny question that people often ask, how did you come to write this book? I feel like I am really sort of the vessel through which the book passes, it kind of writes itself. I don’t really “set out” to write a story, I rarely outline anything, I only keep notes of things I think are smart or funny or interesting or seem important somehow and these notes are everything in my life and they are everywhere—on my phone, on my laptop, Post-It notes are everywhere and then there are tons of notebooks with scribbles in them that I try to keep track of. I know I must forget a ton of stuff, so probably the work that survives is the most critical (or so I like to think). But writing for me is like peeing. It’s very natural and I can’t really stop it.

As you depict them, the important people in your life are entertaining and often hilarious – do you feel compelled to share them through your writing? How do they respond to being written about?

Other than my mother, who knows it’s not even worth trying anymore, I think people have a romantic notion of what it means to be written about. Their ideas of themselves and how they would portray themselves are often very different than reality. Which is to say that they really like the idea until they actually read the book and then they freak out and get all paranoid. I try to explain that nobody actually gives a shit and that as far as I’m concerned, they should be thanking me for what I don’t disclose, but they rarely buy that.

What appeals to you about memoir writing? Do you have any advice for aspiring memoir writers?

I am totally incapable of writing anything else. This may have something to do with the fact that I am a complete narcissist. But I can only write in my own voice, and my constant challenge is to try to get everyone else as interested in me as I am in myself. My advice to any aspiring writers (memoir or otherwise) is to READ READ READ. And then, go into banking. Unless you are seriously obsessed with writing and you love writing more than you love anything else - then you should write. Because you have to be willing to sacrifice everything for a very long time in order actually “be” a writer. And if that’s the case, then you’re very lucky because I think it’s the best life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

What is the worst piece of life or romantic advice you have ever been given? Did it lead you astray?

Worst advice is that there are rules about dating and sex i.e. you shouldn’t have sex on the first date. It didn’t lead me astray because I never paid attention to it!

In addition to being a writer, you are also the creative director of an online concept boutique, House of Exposure. What is an online concept boutique and how did House of Exposure come into being?

Basically I get to work with a wide variety of incredible artists, designers and photographers and come up with limited edition products—from lipsticks to baby clothes, which we sell exclusively on and are designed exclusively for us. In a certain way it’s really elitist and highly curated. I’m totally obsessed with design and oversee everything down to the most minute detail but, on the other hand, it’s very democratic as things are very affordable. I think anyone who appreciates beautiful things should be able to access them.

On My Knees is available now in print and eBook.

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