Dreaming in Words: 3Qs for Kate Rockland, aptly named author of Falling Is Like This

I had to reach out and talk to Kate Rockland when I saw that her debut novel, Falling Is Like This, had been blurbed by Courtney Love: "This book is saucy, sexy, and well-written." I was even more surprised by NYT bestseller Emily Griffin: "Say hello to the new rock star in women's fiction." Women's fiction? With a 23-yr-old heroine and a punk rocker boyfriend?

Over the course of one week, Harper Rostov ditches her true-blue boyfriend and sows wild oats all over the vividly portrayed East Village. And Coney Island. And then finds her way home to New Jersey after she discovers that her brilliant musician lover (he buys humane mouse traps from PETA and recites Sylvia Plath poems) is hiding a dark secret. I'm predicting a lot of book club discussions revolving around That Guy I Should Have Never Gotten Involved With.

Kate, thanks for stopping by. Harper isn't exactly the archetypal Jersey Girl, but she definitely has some of the trademark elements working for her. What do you make of the current fascination with Jersey girls (a la shows like "Jerseylicious") and do you want Harper to dispel that image or expand on it?
I think New Jersey has been a long-standing joke to the other 49 states, especially to the snobbier New York and Connecticut, the states surrounding us. However, I am proud of the stereotypes that New Jersey reality TV shows accentuate. I like women with big hair and fake nails; the Stephanie Plum character in the Janet Evanovich books seems like a girl you'd want to have a beer with. On the other hand, people should know that while there are certainly Snookie look-alikes running around Seaside (we call it "Sleaze-side" up here in Hoboken, the North part of the state) and I probably went to high school with 100 Snookies, there are other kinds of people living in the Garden State such as intellectuals (Albert Einstein is from Princeton, for goodness sakes) and teachers and mothers and all kinds of people. Harper loves living in New Jersey, but she likes punk rock and the punk rock scene that came out of New Brunswick in the 1980's and gave birth to bands like Lifetime and The Bouncing Souls. So she's not the typical big hair, fake nails type of Jersey girl, but she would be friends with plenty of girls that look like that. She wouldn't judge or be bothered by being called a "Jersey Girl."

The girl version of the guy in "Almost Famous", you "followed around freakishly beautiful celebrities with a microphone" for two years as a staffer at Rolling Stone and Wenner Books (the magazine's book publishing arm.) Was this story writing itself in your head that whole time or did it come together from a different perspective?
The whole time I was doing reporting for Us Weekly and sitting at my desk at Rolling Stone while Billy Joel or Billy Idol or Madonna went strolling by for meetings, I felt like I was living in a land of fiction. But it was more the East Village that got my creative juices flowing. I lived on 9th street and first avenue, right down the block from Tompkin's Park, and everyone I was meeting in my early twenties was an artist of some kind. I was going to underground punk shows, I was dating older guys who took me to great concerts. My bartender for years ended up being the bassist for The Hold Steady, who made it big. Everyone around me wanted to do something interesting with their lives, and so did I.

Other than the ten-yr-old laptop, what does magazine writing have in common with novel process? And do you love one better than the other?
Magazine writing is cool because you have a deadline and you have to usually interview someone interesting in person or on the phone with a recorder, you have to do an enormous amount of research and try to not let your voice shake when you interview famous people so you can set them at ease so they say interesting things you can pull quotes from for your article. The more famous someone is, the less interesting things they say. They get famous and then they clam up. Writing fiction is more easy-going, until the end when you turn it in and need to make 1,000 changes to the manuscript. Magazine writing on a deadline is exciting but hard work; writing novels means escaping into another world, sitting at your laptop and essentially dreaming in words. I think I like book writing more, but going out and researching the new hot band, or going to a concert and interviewing a musician backstage or while on tour can be very exciting.

My standard bonus Q, if you don't mind: What are you reading?
I am reading three books as usual: Elizabeth George's This Body of Death, Zoe Heller's The Believers, and a non-fiction book by my friend Larry Smith's wife, Orange Is the New Black, about when she spent 13 months in jail. I want to know the juicy details of their marriage!

Falling Is Like This hit bookstores this week. Visit Kate Rockland's website for more.

Comments

Hi, Kate! Thanks for stopping by and helping to dispel the "everybody's Snooki, Stephanie, or connection" myth of Jerseydom! (Ugh.)

The book sounds great! So glad you shared!

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