"Note to Self," by Alina Simone

Note to Self, Alina Simone
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Vinciane Verguethen

Jeff Glor talks to Alina Simone about "Note to Self."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Alina Simone: Honestly...? Well, this author I know, Tao Lin, had just published a book named "Shoplifting from American Apparel," and I fell in love with the title. It conjured the unselfconscious immorality that characterizes the twenty-something hipster with admirable concision. Oddly, I found myself unable to read the book because I liked the title so much. I already knew what I wanted the book to be like, see, and didn't want to be disappointed by the actual book. Eventually I started embellishing the story in my head -- the story I wanted "Shoplifting from American Apparel" to be -- and that became "Note to Self."

For the record, I've read Tao Lin's latest book, "Taipei," and found a lot to like in it.

JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

AS: How much I hated myself. There are so many mind-blowingly, impossibly incredible fiction writers out there to measure oneself up against. The process of writing this novel felt like waking up everyday and leaving a detailed record of my failure.

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

AS: I would be a real estate agent! And I'd probably be a pretty happy one given how much I love driving around and poking through other people's apartments.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

AS: I am reading two books: "The Amazing Race" by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran. The premise of the book is that the two authors have challenged one another to a race around the world using only land and sea transport (no airplanes). It's not as good as Hely's more recent "How I Became a Famous Novelist" (one of those so-good-it-makes-me-hate-myself novels referred to above) but still has some incredible, laugh-out-loud moments.

The second book is "Russophobia in New Zealand, 1838-1908" which I bought on a whim on Amazon because the mysteries implied by the title just kept growing. First you're like, "Russophobia? But why hate on Russians?" Then you're like, "Wha?!? But why should Kiwis hate on Russians?" And then, "Why only between 1838 and 1908...?"

JG: What's next for you?

AS: I am writing a book about Madonna for the University of Texas Press' "American Music" series. Of course, this is the first time I've mentioned this publicly so I expect to hear from her manager about 15 minutes after this interview goes up. Hi Guy!

For more on "Note to Self," visit the Macmillan website.