Monthly Spotlight on Local Businesses & Residents
Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, What to Say Next, Hope and other Punchlines, The Opposite of Love and After You.
I don't even know where to start with you - one of the most revered and prolific young adult authors today living right here in Hancock Park! Let's start with this: what do you love about the neighborhood, and how often do things you observe right in your local surroundings make it on to your pages?
I love our neighborhood! I feel like we get the best of both worlds. We live in a big city, but get the coziness and community of a small town. And though maybe not directly identifiable, a lot of our neighborhood makes its way into my work, whether it’s from overheard conversations or that lady I sometimes see from my kitchen window who looks exactly like her dog.
Looking at your bio, you debuted with two novels of "adult age" (is that a category?) in successive years beginning in 2009, then had a five year gap before publishing your first Young Adult book, Tell Me Three Things. Since then you've published three books in the genre in the last four years; what led you to write in that space?
For much of my adult life, I felt like I wasn't actually a grown up, but like I was just pretending to be one. Kind of how like how people play doctors on tv. But then one day, I realized I was adulting pretty hard. I had two kids, a husband, a mortgage and a full time job as a novelist. I was on the freakin’ PTA. Suddenly, I missed being sixteen. I missed that time in my life when the world was wide open and not all of my life’s questions were yet answered. So I decided to revisit being a teenager in my fiction. And I loved it so much, I’ve been doing it ever since.
Incredibly, just months after the story broke, it appears you're well down the road of finishing a book on the notorious college admissions scandal, appropriately titled The Side Door. How did a story come together for you so quickly on this subject (or perhaps it was brewing in your mind before news of the scandal broke?!). Also, as a storyteller, how meaty did you find the subject of the college admissions scandal?
As soon as the scandal broke, I became immediately obsessed and read everything I could about it, and still I wasn’t satiated. There were too many angles to explore, and in particular, it raised so many questions I already struggle with as a mom in LA. This seemed the natural bottom of a slippery slope. What does it mean to be an ethical parent? When does advocating for your kid become snowplow parenting? I couldn’t stop thinking about the teenagers at the heart of this mess, and before I knew it, I had the entire novel in my mind. And as all writers do at some point in their career, I wrote an email to my agent that started with, “I know I have two hundred pages of another book already written, but would it be crazy to abandon that and start over with this?” And then I pitched the book to my agent and editor and luckily, they both loved it.
You're a Harvard Law grad and former attorney; describe the path that led you from law to the career you now enjoy.
When I was a lawyer, I used to cry on Sunday nights, because I didn’t want to go to work on Monday morning. So about twelve years ago, as part of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to quit my job and write my first book. What was supposed to be a fun side project while I figured out what kind of lawyer I wanted to be ultimately became my debut novel, The Opposite of Love, and launched my writing career. Only New Year’s resolution I’ve ever managed to keep by the way.
I know you're a frequenter of The Hatchery on Larchmont; talk about why you leave your own home to write in another home, albeit one occupied with other writers?
Having The Hatchery to go to every day helps me to treat my work more like a normal 9-5 job. Also it’s just a lovely place designed especially for writers. For a long time, I worked from coffee shops, but you seriously can’t overestimate the value of a reliably clean bathroom.