Interview: Cecil Castellucci
Current Mood: busy
Current Song: Chelsea by Stefy
Cecil Castellucci is a songwriter, a novelist, and a playright. She is also a punk rock prom queen (forgive me for quoting Josie & the Pussycats) who really loves Star Wars.
I share her adoration of Cary Grant and argyle socks and I truly enjoy her novels, so it was quite fun to pick her brain.
Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool, and Beige all feature teenage girls trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. Describe yourself in high school.
I was a girl who wore vintage cocktail dresses and snoods in my hair to school. My personality was too big for my little body and I didn't know how to deal with it. I was very emotional. I went to the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in NYC and studied theater. I took it very seriously, but I was more interested in directing, than acting, although I do have a performers heart. I went to see a Broadway or Off-Broadway play once a week. I wrote poems in a cafe in the village called Cafe Orlin. I never had a boyfriend. I think people still remember me, although I felt as though I was a wallflower compared to my more glamorous friends. I was popular enough and not popular at all. I fit in and not at all. I always got my friends and I carded when we went out cause I was so tiny and young looking. I was an average student. I applied for the creative writing class and I got rejected. I spent a lot of time at a repertory movie theater by myself, in love with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.
You've referred to your novels as a loose trilogy, threaded together by their common backdrop: Los Angeles. Why there?
Well, I live in Los Angeles! I think also that because in Los Angeles Neighborhoods are so separated from one another, that in order to ground myself I kind of had to make L.A. a character. I also love Los Angeles, and it seems like so many times, L.A. is just made out to be this big Hollywood kind of glamor place, or a gang ridden violent place. But it's a real city, with a variety of characters and colors to it. I wanted to show the parts of L.A. that I love.
The books are succinct and straightforward. Do you set out to write X number of words or pages, or do you simply write and stop when the story feels complete?
I just write and stop when the story feels complete. When I was a songwriter, I did the same thing. My songs were always very short. People would sometimes say to me, "Cecil, you need a bridge, or a repeat of that phrase or chorus." I'd be like, "Really? I don't think I have to do that if I don't want to." In my opinion, when a song (or story) is done, it's done. No one likes a guest that stays too long. Short and sweet. Lean and mean. That's what I love.
That said, have you seen Beige! She clocks in at a whopping 320 pages! Just to let you know, I'm not afraid of taking all the time I need to tell a story if I need to.
Under what circumstances (or in what setting) do you think Egg, Libby, and Katy would meet?
Personally, I think they all cross paths at the Sunset Junction at the end of Beige. I hint that Egg is there. I say that there's a girl with a shaved head and colored eyebrows. I also think they might cross paths at some kind of fabulous all ages show.
The Plain Janes is a story told in and about art. Was it always planned to be a graphic novel? Will there be additional volumes?
When I first came up with the idea of The Plain Janes, I knew it wasn't a novel. I thought maybe it was an animated show, a la Daria. So I think I always imagined it to be drawn. Point is, I always imagined it to be something that was continuing. When Shelly Bond from DC Vertigo / Minx called me, and said, "Do you have any ideas for a Graphic Novel?" I immediately thought of the Janes. It was a perfect fit. I am crossing all my fingers and toes that there will be another Plain Janes book. I have lots of questions I want answered! And I have lots of adventures for those gals to go on!
Do you have any hidden talents or secret fandoms?
Hidden talents: I make a mean Crepe and delicious homemade soup.
Secret fandoms: Herge's Tin Tin. I love Tin Tin so much. I'm also obsessed with Gama-Go and Threadless t-shirts.
What book, if any, do you re-read for comfort? For inspiration?
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.
What are ten of your favorite novels?
Glad it's not my top ten, that's always too hard a question. So, here are ten off the top of my head.
Walter Tevis' Mockingbird
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind
MT Anderson's Feed
James Tiptree's Warm Worlds and Otherwise
Edmund Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac
Arnold Bennett's Anna of the Five Towns
H.G. Wells The Passionate Friends
Willa Cather My Antonia
Sam Shepard Fool For Love
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
Who are ten of your favorite singers, bands, or musicians?
I'm only going to name lady singers here (not even lady bands) because my iPod is currently on my "Lady Singer Mix" and because otherwise this list would have to be 100+ long.