Describe your latest book.
My short story collection is called Homesick for Another World
. It's a book I worked on for four years. It begins with a story of an alcoholic Catholic school teacher who quits her job once her ex-husband pays her to stop harassing him with early morning phone calls, and ends with a tale of a girl in a foreign land deluded by superstition, seeking out someone to murder. The stories are all very different, but some themes that pervade the book have to do with loneliness, desire, hope, and self-awareness.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Tell Me a Mitzi
When did you know you were a writer?
When I was nine years old.
What does your writing workspace look like?
I write in my apartment in LA, in the office, in the living room, in the bedroom... anywhere I can drag my laptop.
What do you care about more than most people around you?
My own writing.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Well, on a few occasions people have come up to me and said, "I'm your stalker."
Tell us something you're embarrassed to admit.
Nothing embarrasses me.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Amie Barrodale. Read her short story collection, You Are Having a Good Time
. It's one of the best books I've ever read.
Besides your personal library, do you have any beloved collections?
I have collected many things over the years. When I was a child, I liked to collect bars of soap. I have some trinkets that I have held onto throughout six or seven moves that have begun to feel like the stuff that I should take with me into the afterlife (note to whoever prepares my sarcophagus).
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I ran a punk nightclub in China when I was 23.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Visiting New York always feels like a literary pilgrimage. I live in LA now, and I often think, Charles Bukowski probably puked on that corner
, and picture him driving around.
What scares you the most as a writer?
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Ottessa Moshfegh: She Tried
Describe a recurring or particularly memorable dream or nightmare.
I dreamed the other night that Joaquin Phoenix came in to tell me to "chill."
What's your biggest grammatical pet peeve?
There are some rules I still don't understand. I leave certain vagaries to the copy editor. As for other people's work, I sometimes worry if someone is using too many commas. Commas can be addictive.
Do you have any phobias?
I don't like to spend time on top of pyramids in Mexico.
Name a guilty pleasure you partake in regularly (reality TV, video games, karaoke, celebrity gossip blogs, YouTube videos, etc.).
I take such little pleasure in those things, I wouldn't call them guilty pleasures. I'd call them "behavioral disorders." And if I'm pleasing myself, I don't feel guilty about it.
What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
It was from my mother. "Promise me you won't join a cult."
What's your favorite breakfast food?
Here are the top five books I've read in the last several months:
1. You Are Having a Good Time
by Amie Barrodale, a collection of short stories.
2. Among Strange Victims
by Daniel Saldaña Paris, a novel.
3. All That Man Is
by David Szalay, a novel in stories.
4. Mao II
by Don DeLillo; we all know it.
5. OJ: Made in America
by Ezra Edelman. It's a documentary, not a book, but I had to include it because it's amazing.
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is a fiction writer from Boston. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for her stories in The Paris Review
and granted a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford. She is the author of the novels McGlue
and the short story collection Homesick for Another World