What do you think of when you think of Chicago?
I think of home! I grew up in the southwest suburbs, went to college at Northwestern, and came back for a few years in the early '00s. Because of all this, I also think of really good pizza.
Who is an author you'd like to meet, dead or alive?
Jane Austen. I would particularly like her to time-travel forward to now and watch some great, female-driven TV with me: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," of course, because that's what my book, "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted," is about. But it would be fantastic to see what she'd make of "The Mindy Project" or "Girls." Or, you know, the fact that we have cable TV, DVRs, and the Internet.
What's the worst question you've ever been asked in an interview?
As a journalist sympathetic to the other side, I'll decline this one!
What's your guilty pleasure reading?
I don't believe in guilty pleasures! I wanted to say Nick Hornby, because he gives me the greatest pure pleasure, but I don't feel the least bit guilty about that. In fact, I'm in awe of anyone who can give me such a good time while being such a good writer. I also happen to listen to Britney Spears and Beyonce with zero guilt, so, you know, my threshold may be different from others. Occupational hazard for pop culture journalists, perhaps.
Can you describe a random or unexpected experience you've had while promoting a book?
My favorite one was when I wrote my first book, "Why? Because We Still Like You," which was about the original Mickey Mouse Club. The most successful event I had was fairly impromptu, when I went with my dad (who's in his 60s, and the perfect age to have watched the show) to his VFW post in Orland Park for their weekly coffee. My dad basically bought every copy he could get his hands on at local bookstores so that his friends could "buy" them from him at the post while I signed them. We ran out and he had to run all around the suburbs trying to get more.
What's your favorite font to write in?
Cambria! Excellent question. I recently saw some mention of the town of Cambria in California and was wracking my brain to figure out why it sounded so familiar to me. Days later, I realized: My font!
How do you celebrate after you've finished a book?
Wine! I celebrate many book milestones with wine.
What's your favorite first line of a book? Last line?
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I always felt like Tolstoy was aiming right at my family and its Russian heritage with that one. It took me a while to figure out this really was for all families, and not just us Eastern Europeans.
What book do you read over and over again?
Two of them: Gatsby and Catcher. They made me want to write.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun