Interview with Laurie Lindeen

Jen: This week we are happy to welcome Laurie Lindeen to Book Talk. Laurie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Laurie: I’m a writer living in the Minneapolis area with my husband and son. I have an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. I teach literary non-fiction and used to sing and play guitar in the band Zuzu’s Petals.

Jen: Tell us about Petal Pusher: A Rock and Roll Cinderella Story and where it’s available.
Laurie: Petal Pusher (Atria ’07) is available wherever books are sold in hardcover and paperback. It’s a coming of age memoir about my “typical” 1970s Midwestern upbringing and my decision to pursue rock stardom in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s – it’s both funny and not funny at all.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Laurie: Like most writer’s, I had an amazing teacher – Mrs. Devoe was my fifth grade teacher, the year we made and wrote fictional diaries about moving out west in a covered wagon. Mrs. Devoe gushed about OUR TRIP WEST (a Laura Ingalls Wilder rip-off), but a writer was born. I also had a handful of very intense pen pals while growing up and we exchanged long, detailed letters on a weekly basis all the way through college. As a young adult with a short attention span, I turned my writing energy into songwriting. I’ve written a lot of essays, first published one around 2004 called “It’s Not Phair.” Petal Pusher is my first published book.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Laurie: I have an aunt who’s a poet, and my dad is handy with a tear-jerking speech at weddings and funerals.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Laurie: What I Do

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Laurie: With memoir, the writer has to give him/herself permission to write whatever comes up because few of us have the luxury of having just one compelling story that can sustain itself. I sort of let the writing do the leading – hunting and gathering is my least favorite part of the process – and I deny myself editing rights until I’ve compiled a certain amount of words.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Laurie: I love to edit and loathe waiting around while stuck in a manuscript — which is why I try to have at least two going at all times.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Laurie: I love connecting the dots, the part late in the manuscript when key subplots and governing images rise to the top and crack the whole thing open.

Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Laurie: Patricia Hampl and Madelon Sprengnether were my mentors in grad. school; hopefully I’ll never stop thanking them for their patient guidance and their trust and confidence in my abilities. Both extraordinary women knowingly nudged me along and celebrated along with me when discoveries or breakthroughs emerged in my writing. My colleagues in grad. school awed and inspired me to shoot for their level of excellence – I felt like a street punk in a crowd of geniuses, and they challenged me. My writing group and all of the book clubs I’ve visited keep me going today.

Jen: If Petal Pusher was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the main characters?
Laurie: We’re hoping Petal Pusher will be made into a movie because we’ve saved all of our old dresses for just such an occasion…Zuzu’s Petals, my old band, was comprised of three women; I can envision Drew Barrymore, Zooey Dachenel, and Ann Hathaway — but there a lot of terrific women actors out there who could hold down these three strong roles and have a lot of fun while doing it.

Jen: What did you do to celebrate the release of the book?
Laurie: I was fortunate enough to participate in a local event called FAKEBOOK; Minnesota Public Radio’s on-air personality extraordinaire, Mary Lucia, hosts this event at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. FAKEBOOK usually connects a book/author/ or artist to music. For my FAKEBOOK event, Mary allowed me to design a variety show of sorts. She and I would discuss a segment from the book, and a corresponding troubadour or group would walk on to the stage and provide the sound track to whatever we’d just discussed. Zuzu’s Petals reunited for two songs, and I got to share the stage and the evening with family and friends. It was once in a lifetime – my wedding night of sorts, and soooooo fun.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Laurie: Right now I’m reading The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavinia Greenlaw; it’s fantastic. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Harper Lee started the fire when I was in high school, but I read anything and everything. People think I say this for effect, but I think Judy Blume is one of the greatest living writers of dialogue we have today. I love teaching the essay form; David Sedaris, Chuck Klosterman and Sarah Vowell are always fun to draw from!

Jen: What’s next for you?
Laurie: I may be ditching my novel for the time being and focusing on an essay collection called IT’S A WONDER WE ALL SURVIVED about the perils of growing up in the age of non-supervision. It’s sort of a response to today’s hyper/manic parenting – from which I am not immune.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Laurie:, my blog is titled THAT WHICH WON’T KILL YOU, JUST MAKES YOU TIRED (but the “trash the writer from the safety of your own home” aspect of blogging never ceases to bum me out), facebook, myspace, youtube

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Laurie: How come you’re so awesome? (Thanks Jen)

Jen: Thank you Laurie for being a guest with us this week. Readers, Laurie is giving away two copies of Petal Pusher to random commenters this week. All you have to do is leave a comment or question for Laurie… and then you must either leave an email address in your comment or send a message to to complete your entry. The contest will end on Sunday, October 11.