Interview: Periel Aschenbrand
Periel Aschenbrand is the outspoken author of On My Knees, a memoir that touches on everything from post-breakup blues to homicidal dental hygienists (really!). We recently spoke to her about her writing process, the greatness of moms, and the not-so-greatness of wearing synthetic fibers on a plane.
Interview by Katie Gregory
On My Knees by Periel Aschenbrand
Hey Periel! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm the author of The Only Bush I Trust is My Own and On My Knees. My work is humor, nonfiction, and mostly about me and those close to me (often, much to their chagrin).
I grew up in Queens and escaped to Manhattan as soon as I figured out the difference. I've lived all over the place but am definitely a New Yorker at heart. I'm also a design freak and the Creative Director of House of Exposure.
When you first sat down to write On My Knees, did you know exactly what you were going to write about, or did you have a different idea at first of how it was going to turn out?
No! I had no idea how it was going to turn out-- I never do. That's part of what's so exciting about it!
If you had to describe On Your Knees in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Sexy and fun with dark twists and unexpected turns—from one night stands to possible murder, this is a modern love story if ever there was one!
I'm sold. What's your writing process like? Any advice for young writers out there?
I sit down at the computer. I write. Then I get distracted by Words with Friends. Then I go back to writing. Then my phone rings. It's really a dance between wasting time and working. Advice for young writers: GO INTO FINANCE! Unless you really, really, really love to write. You have to love it SO much that you're willing to do so at the expense of everything else.
You're very open with your writing. How do your family/friends feel about that? Do you exaggerate anyone's personality? (Or like, how many times your friend Hanna trolled the internet for sex?)
They're all freaking out. But that's okay, they'll get over it. Or, they won't. Either way, it's too late now, right? I've definitely changed some stuff for legal, logistical, narrative or personal reasons but for the most part, every single thing in the book happened. In terms of Hanna, I couldn't make that up if I tried!
In the book your mom suggests that you wear natural-fiber clothes while flying in case the plane goes down because they're less flammable. What are some other awesome mom tidbits she's given you over the years? Moms rule.
My mom is the best. She really is. And yes, she is CONSTANTLY giving me advice. I mean, you name it and she has an opinion about how I should be doing it. In particular, she thinks I curse way too much in real life and in the book. And now that I'm about to have a baby, she keeps going on and on about how I better not curse in front of him. I happen to think cursing in front of kids is a good idea because it makes it less taboo. I keep trying to explain that to her but she's not having it.
Now that you're going to be a mom soon, any future plans to write some parenting books? Have any of your own pieces of advice that you plan to email your kid about?
I don't think anyone should be taking parenting advice from me!
(Photo credit: Ed Keating)