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An Interview with Claire Zulkey
by Ryan Robert Mullen

RRM: Does the title of your upcoming book (Girls! Girls! Girls!, So New Media) have anything to do with the rumored Claire Zulkey, Motley Crue, Elvis Costello, and Elvis Presley cube? Why do these things usually happen in triangles?

Claire Zulkey is the author
of Girls! Girls! Girls!.

CZ: Did you have to bring up Elvis Costello? He just got married, which made me really upset. Not just because heís on his third marriage and that seems a bit ďHollywoodĒ for my former angry young man, but also of course it means heís off the market to me. But also, that was the first title that popped into my head (other than XXXX, really) and I felt too lazy to come up with something better.

RRM: In an analogy to rowing- could you tell us how often you tend to write and with what vigor?

CZ: It depends on what Iíve got going on. If I donít have anybody filling in for me for the day on my website, then five days a week for sure, since the website keeps me going. If I have a freelance assignment, then I work on that too. I havenít been quite as prolific as I was a year or so ago, when Iíd have probably a few projects going on a week, but still once in a while, on my own Iíll have an idea pop into my head and Iíll work on that. Vigor is an unusual word to describe it, I supposeÖI often look at the freelance or the website as an assignment, which means that I can tend to drag my feet. Iím not exactly sitting up late in the night, eyes wide, chain smoking, thinking ďThis is it! This is genius! I canít stop now!Ē

RRM: Rushmore is indeed an excellent flick- besides Fischer and Blume who is your favorite character and why?

CZ: Margaret Yang, for sure. Itís hard not to feel empathy for the geeky girl, plus she has really cute outfits in the movie. I like that she stands up to Max and tell him truthfully that he treated her like a jerk. Also, have you noticed that a lot of the names have botanical type roots? Herman Blume. Rosemary Cross. Rosemary Appleby.

RRM: So can we get a juicy exclusive excerpt from the "Ben Brown loves Claire Zulkey: A Confessional" email or what?

CZ: This, I swear to god, is totally unedited:
ďI might as well just dispense with the uncomfortable bits up front. I love you. There. I said it. My wife doesn't know, and I'm hoping to keep the whole thing on the DL, if you know what I mean. She didn't like it when I expressed my love to Neal Pollack, and she won't like it now. But I can't hide it any longer. Your web site makes me hot.

Hot for literature. ĎFat: The New Thiní is the funniest thing I have ever read on the internet. Ever.Ē

Girls! Girls! Girls!
is published by
So New Media.

Thus started Benís and my tawdry non-affair, which resulted in a divorce and a breakup, both not as a result of the non-affair.

RRM: A bearded man (we're talking full-on beard action), possibly Jesus, sipping a Coca-Cola Classic (as opposed to Pepsi) suavely and genteelly suggests that you and him could make beautiful babies- your reaction?

CZ: It totally depends on the beard. Is it clean? Neatly combed? Whatís the color like? Does he dye it? Does it match his eyebrows? Is he Saddam Hussein? Is it my Dadís brother? My boyfriend wearing a fake beard? These all depend on whether my reaction is to acquiesce, make a joke or get really nervous and leave the room.

RRM: You really make yourself quite accessible to your audience- do you feel it's a good writers responsibility to create a sense of personal familiarity with their readers?

CZ: Itís funny because the first few time I ever received complimentary email, I didnít respond, since I didnít know what you did. Then a friend of mine told me that one of those emails wanted to know, ďWhatís up with Zulkey?Ē So I respond because I donít want to be a jerk. But yeah, I think itís just politeness that if somebody says something nice to you, you say ďThanksĒ back. I donít know if itís a responsibility, though. If your favorite author is a big shot and you write to them telling them so, I donít know if itís their responsibility to be in touch. Actually, maybe Iíll be taken much more seriously if I start acting aloof and snotty. This interview is over.

RRM: Do you consider yourself good or evil or a ratio thereof? What are you doing for the holidays?
Want More?

Click here to visit Ms. Zulkey's website.

Click here to read ďCareless,Ē a short story by Ms. Zulkey.

Click here to order Girls! Girls! Girls!.

CZ: I think and say a lot more evil than I do evil, so I guess Iím maybe 70 or 80% good, although I donít do that much for the community, so maybe itís like 70% good, 10% evil, 10% nothing. For the holidays, Iím doing what our family usually does: my dad and brother and I have breakfast together Christmas Eve (when we were young weíd brave the crowds at Marshall Fieldís and go eat under the big tree at the Walnut Room but we decided that thatís not worth it. Then we go to church and my mom makes a really fancy dinner and we open presents. Christmas morning my dad makes scrambled eggs with Polish sausage and then we open Santa gifts (yep, Santa still love me, so I guess Iím not all evil) and we head out to my auntís in the suburbs and scratch off lotto tickets and eat pierogis.

RRM: What is the closest you have ever come to enjoying a listen of Revolution 9?

CZ: I think maybe taking some pleasure in listening to anything that sounded like George Harrison. Otherwise, Iím not even sure Iíve listened to the whole thing in its entirety.

RRM: You've obviously produced a ton of brilliant material over the last few years- any other short story collections in the works?

CZ: Not as of yet. I need to get writing some more longer prose I think, the kind of stuff that you see in Girls! Girls! Girls! Iím trying not to put the horse in front of the cart but it would be great to do something with all my interviews.

RRM: In your Onion interview with Nathan Rabin you claim: "it will rock the kangaroo's ass." I couldn't help but notice you have a picture of a kangaroo on your website- there does indeed to be something coming out of it's ass. Is it a rock?

CZ: Itís a little baby joey. My kangaroo has a kind of screwed up reproductive system, so instead of carrying her offspring around in her pouch, she carries itÖthere.

About the author:
Ryan Robert Mullen is the author of
Naughty, Sweet Boy (Word Riot Press) and a columnist at Get Underground. He maintains a website at

© 2011 Word Riot

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