Anna North grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 2009, and now lives in Fort Greene. Her debut novel America Pacifica is officially published next week; she reads tomorrow night at the Center for Fiction and at Greenlight on May 31.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
In college someone told me my work was an example of everything that was wrong with American fiction. I hope I’ve lived up to that. More seriously, my advisor once described my novel as a cross between a dystopia and a detective story, which was pretty much exactly what I was going for, and I was really excited that somebody picked up on the detective part.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
I just read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower—I can let myself read dystopias again because I’m done with my book now. Anyway, P of the S was one of those books everyone had been telling me I should read forever, and sometimes that can make a book feel sort of tedious, like an assignment, but the minute I started reading it I forgot anyone had told me to read it and if anyone had told me not to read it I would have hit them. Everyone should read this, especially if you are a teenager, but also if you are not.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Silvio Berlusconi. Except I really want him to write it himself. Or I will write it for him. Actually, that would be really fun. Call me, Silvio.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
One summer I was living in Boston and I didn’t have a lot of money, and I also didn’t have a car and the grocery store was far away so I couldn’t bring back very many groceries. I did get really hungry. But that was also the summer I wrote my first published story ever, one of the only stories I still love years after I wrote it, so maybe it also made me a little brilliant.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Someone I’m internet-friends with is drawing a comic based on my book. I think this is my ideal interaction.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
For Father’s Day when I was about twenty, I gave my dad a poem I had written about how great it was when I was born. Like, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad—you’ve raised a raging narcissist!” I wish I could take that back and just give him a card or something.