from the Financial Times

James Frey

By Anna Metcalfe

Published: August 16 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 16 2008 03:00


James Frey is notorious for having embellished parts of his 2003 memoir, A Million Little Pieces. Promoted as a true tale of his time at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic, the book became a New York Times bestseller. Frey published a second memoir, My Friend Leonard, in 2005. Born in 1969 in Cleveland, Ohio, he now lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

What book changed your life?

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. The first time I read it I couldn’t believe someone had written it. It’s offensive and pure and clear.

Who are your literary heroes?

Baudelaire, Céline, Kerouac, Brett Easton Ellis, Henry Miller.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

Something written by Perez Hilton, an American blogger.

At what hour of the day does inspiration strike?

I work from 9am until 5pm. “Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work,” said Chuck Close. I have a blue-collar, working-class approach to what I do.

Where do you write best? My office in my apartment in New York. I close the door but I’m interrupted a lot by my wife, my kid and phone calls. There are three things that writers love: praise, money and interruptions.

How many words do you write a day?

Two to three pages of finished, polished, publishable work.

How many rejections did your first book receive?

17 publishers said no before one said yes.

What book would you give to someone from another era, to paint a picture of the 21st century?

My book Bright Shiny Morning . I think Los Angeles is a city that embodies contemporary US society. It’s segmented and divided, rich and poor. It’s the American dream in its purest form, whether you’re there searching for a roof over your head or for international stardom.

What do you do to celebrate finishing a book?

Nothing. Recently I finished late at night, by myself. I took a deep breath, had a good laugh and went to sleep.

When do you feel most free?

When I hear my daughter say something she’s never said before.

Who would you choose to play you in a film about your life?

I don’t ever want one to be made.

What would you go back and change?

Nothing. I’m okay with everything that’s happened in my life.

What would a novel about your life be called?

It Was a Big F***ing Mess but He Tried Really Hard and He Loved His Family .

Interview by Anna Metcalfe.

James Frey’s latest novel is ‘Bright Shiny Morning’ (HarperCollins)

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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