On the day we launch The Reading Room we couldn’t think of anything better than chatting to one of our favourite authors
Miranda July is one of those people who has managed to create her own genre. She’s made films (Me And You And Everyone We Know, The Future), written books (No One Belongs Here More Than You) and worked on numerous art projects, but everything she does is Miranda-Julyish: off-beat, but concerned with general human emotions; whimsical, yet somehow sad. We spoke to Miranda about her latest project It Chooses You.
It Chooses You is an interesting project…
“The book came about because I was procrastinating. Which I do all the time. I was reading the classified ads in Pennysaver, which is a local freesheet. And then I started calling the people who had placed them, finding out their stories. The book is about them, but also about how I approached them. Really, it was just taking procrastination to a whole new level.”
Is that kind of stalling usual for you?
“I usually have the next five years planned out, so then I try to figure out how to rebel against myself. I’m very disciplined and sit at my desk for proper working hours, but it’s a constant play between feeling free and listening to myself. It’s about noticing what’s still fun and what’s not and then re-stating my priorities.”
How did you find it, discovering such intimate details about strangers?
“Truth be told, I’m pretty shy, but I’m also curious. That’s why I come up with these constraints. If I’m doing a project I get to ask a ton of questions and maybe you find out someone is about to have gender reassignment surgery, like Michael in the book. Asking questions protects you. It shifts the focus to the other person. I ask pretty normal stuff, like ‘what’s a normal day for you?’”
So, Miranda July, what’s a normal day for you?
“Oh no! I can’t believe you did that to me. I don’t want to answer the questions I ask! No, OK, it really does vary depending on what I’m working on, but this is for right now. Well, I’m pregnant at the moment, so there’s a whole lot of eating. I go to my office in the morning, a few blocks from my house, then I write for a few hours and in the afternoon I do admin. In the evenings I take a walk with my husband. We have a rule that we don’t talk about work. Make dinner, then sleep.”