Hey, Author! is my very own place to find out things about my favourite authors that other blogs just don’t ask. The nitty-gritty. The dirt. The skinny.
Not stuff about their forthcoming books, or their writing process, none of that high-brow shenanigans thank you – no – Hey, Author! is about getting to know the person behind the bestseller.
So let’s get to it.
One of my ABSOLUTE favourite books of 2016 was The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, so when Cynthia graciously agreed to take part in my Hey, Author! blog, I was more than a little delighted. I love to feature authors from outside of Ireland (if only to get tips for where to eat when I’m on holidays), but with a name like Sweeney, I’m thinking this girl fits right in here.
So, Ms. Sweeney. We like the look of your book. (In truth, I’ve been banging on about it for months.) But before my readers press download on their kindle devices, there are some things they really need to know.
What is your:
Favourite night out in your hometown?
The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles is a truly magical place. The first time I went there the summer after we moved to Los Angeles it was to hear one of my idols, Etta James, open for a young lady whose debut album I quite liked but didn’t know too much about: Adele. Etta James was sick that night, but Adele was magnificent and she’s done pretty well since then. When you see a concert at the Bowl, if you’re lucky enough to sit in one of the boxes, waiters bring you food and drink throughout the evening. The weather is always sublime, the air fragrant and the wine flows freely!
Favourite skincare/haircare product?
Is there such a thing as a product slut? If there is, I’m it. I don’t swear allegiance to anything and am particularly susceptible to packaging that borders on institutional and costs a fortune. The hair conditioner I’m using now is in a plain white bottle that says “CONDITIONER” in a plain black font. I bought it a fancy salon and it was ridiculously expensive, but smells great.
Illustration by Jennifer Melchi
Favourite book of all time? (Just one!)
This is a terrible question for a writer! But I’ll lean Irish and say that James Joyce’s story “The Dead” is one of my favorite pieces of writing and something I read again and again.
(Interesting fact – the house at 15 Ushers Island on the river Liffey in Dublin where Joyce’s aunts lived and where The Dead was purportedly set, is currently up for sale for any Joycians with €550,000 in loose change… -Ed.)
Favourite clothes shop?
I have a new favorite clothes shop although it only lives on the Internet. Everlane is based in San Francisco and the clothes are classic, well-made, affordable and ethically produced. I did an enormous closet clean-out in the spring and basically started rebuilding my wardrobe using the Everlane site. I really love their stuff.
(Me too! Hurry up and deliver to Ireland, guys! -Ed.)
Favourite restaurant anywhere in the world?
This is almost as hard as picking a favorite book. I’m going to make it easy on myself by choosing the place I ate last night: Lucky’s in Montecito, California. It’s a classic little steak and fish place right outside of Santa Barbara and the local sand dabs—which I guess are a little like Dover sole—are sublime. The martinis aren’t shabby either.
Favourite bar anywhere in the world?
I’m old enough to remember when McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City allowed women in the bar (they were finally forced to by law), but didn’t provide restrooms for women (their little protest). My friends and I would spend long Saturday afternoons drinking one of the two kinds of beer they have on tap—light or dark—and eating plates of cheese served with sliced raw onion and the house mustard. When it was time to go to the “ladies” room, you’d recruit a few male friends to usher you past the line of urinals and stand guard at the stall. As you can tell, it was very fancy. I still love an afternoon at McSorley’s and it’s still “light or dark,” but the ladies have their own loo now.
Casablanca. Always and forever.
I have a soft spot for the classic jazz singers, especially the women, and Ella Fitzgerald is the queen. The person I’ve seen in concert most often is Elvis Costello and one of my favorite recent concerts was the Diana Ross at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. That woman is 73 years old and descended onto the stage on a swing while belting out “I’m Coming Out.” She was fantastic.
My mother is 100% Italian. She was born in the United States but all of her grandparents came over from Italy. Our family Sunday Sauce, a tomato sauce with pork and sometimes sausage and meatballs will always be my most comforting comfort food. When we move into a new apartment or house, one of the first things I make is that sauce. My husband calls it “seasoning the house.” As good as burning sage for getting rid of lingering bad spirits and summoning good ones.
Summer: Gin and Tonic. Winter: Manhattan with rye whiskey, straight up with a luxardo cherry.
Well, it’s always winter weather over this neck of the woods, Cynthia, so as The First Lady of Song herself might say, we’ll have Manhattan!
To those of you who haven’t yet read Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest – you are in for a treat – a therapeutic read for those with siblings, and a reminder of the dodged bullet for those without!
Cynthia, it’s been wonderful finding out more about the places to go in LA and beyond. Come visit your Irish relatives soon, and perhaps you can pick up some local culinary ideas to rival Nonna’s.
Pint of Guinness, anyone?
Until next time on Hey, Author!