Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Author Don LePan Says an "Ethical Impairment" Inspired His Novel

Don LePan during his reading at KGB Bar in the East Village.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Author Don LePan, reading excerpts from his latest fiction work at KGB Bar in the East Village over the weekend, said the inspiration from his tome came from a passion to stop factory farming.

"It was an ethical impairment, really," LePan told NiteSide. 

"I'd been really upset about factory farming and I thought surely I can write something to make some kind of contribution to the effort to stop factory farming. The moment I had that thought, within 30 seconds, the story line for it came together in my mind."

LePan read from his book "Animals" Sunday night at the venerated watering hole, which hosts Sunday Night Fiction where emerging writers come to reveal their work. Though the scribe said he felt reaction to the book has been positive, he hopes to reach more people. 

"I only feel it would be a success if the numbers (of people reached) were far, far larger," LePan said. "'Black Beauty' had a huge impact on the treatment of horses in the Western world and it would be great to have an impact like that."

While he does feel passionate about the issues he addresses in this book, LePan is shifting gears for his next novel, entitled "1940."

"It is a romance novel based on my parents situation," LePan said. "Its' a very different sort of novel."

This story ran on NBCNewYork.com's NiteSide.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Author Matthew Pitt: "It's Like I Make a Mold and Then Immediately Break It"

Matthew Pitt at his book reading at KGB Bar.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Author Matthew Pitt moved from New York City three years ago but returned last night to read an excerpt from his book at the KGB Bar in the East Village. He told NiteSide last night that the greatest challenge he faced in putting together his new book was his own style of writing. 

"I tend to put myself in a corner because the stories never seem the same from one to the next, so they're often wildly different in subject matter, tone and the type of character that I'm investing into that particular story," Pitt said. "It's like I make a mold and then immediately break it, which is exciting for me. I like that restlessness."

"Attention Please Now" is a collection of stories, which Pitt said was a long time in the making. 

"It's been ten years since I wrote the first story," Pitt said. "But after doing ten drafts or so, I got to a point where I was proud of it."

While he says the plots of his stories don't have a common theme, his characters do have one thing in common.

"They're all living a moment where they look around and they're on a high wire and there's no net beneath them," Pitt said. "They're at that point in their live where they have to decide, 'am I going to make it all the way across or am I going to jump or what's going to happen?' It kind of captures them at moments of crisis."

Pitt said he draws off his theater background to create characters but sometimes wishes he could draw off his own adventures. 

"I am really envious of friends that can take pieces from their own experiences and craft them into stories," Pitt said. "I am not able to plagiarize my own life."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Author Behind New Robert Pattinson Flick Says She Was Stunned by Set

Sara Gruen signed books after her reading at Barnes and Noble in Union Square.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

The animal-loving author behind the film "Water for Elephants" starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson said being on set of the silver-screen adaptation of her book was surreal. 

"When we came down off the hill and looked onto the set, it took my breath away," New York Times bestselling author Sara Gruen said during a reading at Barnes & Noble last night. "Five years ago it was in my head, and now it is real."

Gruen, reading from her latest tome, "Ape House,"said she and some family members have cameo roles in the film, which is due out next Spring. The idea for the second tome came while she was preparing to go on tour for her first book. 

She was fascinated by communicating with chimps "in our language or in theirs" and eventually joined forces with the Great Ape Trust to interact with bonobo apes in Iowa, she said. 

"I brought (the apes) fleece blanket, Mr. Potato Head, Slinkie's, Rubik's Cubes and anything I thought they would like," Gruen said. "But I think the key is M&M's. They love M&M's."

This story ran on NBCNewYork.com's NiteSide.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green Day Front Man: "American Idiot" Was Inspired by 9/11

Billie Joe Armstrong (third from the left) on stage for "Idiot University" on Friday.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong said the mega-hit "American Idiot" -- which led to the creation of a Broadway musical of the same name -- was inspired by the terror attacks of Sept. 11.

"I remember seeing those planes smashing into the World Trade Center live. Right there," Armstrong said during his appearance on the Broadway stage Friday night with "American Idiot" director Michael Mayer for a talkback session dubbed "Idiot University."

"I don't think we ever really, as a society, we had never seen anything that implicit. It was just chaos. I was so confused. I felt paralyzed. So the song 'American Idiot' was the first thing that came to mind."

Select audience members of five performances last week had the opportunity to attend the talkbacks after the show, which also included four cast members and a few members of the creative team. 

Armstrong, whose "American Idiot" album focused on American society in the early part of the decade, said watching the band's music performed on stage is a different experience from listening to the record in a traditional setting.

"With me, Mike (Dirnt) and Tre (Cool), we are the three pieces, and it's like we're fighting," Armstrong said. "And that's been the main argument with the band is us fighting to hear ourselves. [In] the show (on Broadway) the music is pulled back and the vocals up front, it adds a whole new dimension to it - a whole new dynamic."

He said many of his songs sound better when coming from different voices -- especially female vocalists.

He added, "A lot of them sound better than I do. ... They're just beautiful singers all around. They could sing the freakin' dictionary. It's amazing."

This story ran on NBCNewYork.com's NiteSide.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inside the Boss Models Fashion Week Bash at the Maritime Hotel

Mike Stylezz and Carly Nikole outside at the Mario Moya after party.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer
It is Fall Fashion Week in New York City and I went to the after party for the Mario Moya show. It was at the Cabana at the Maritime Hotel, which has a partially open rooftop area. Check out my photo gallery from this event.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jonathan Franzen: Being Named Great American Novelist Felt "Validating"

Author Jonathan Franzen, lavished with praise for his most recent tome "Freedom," revealed last night why he wasn't surprised when Time magazine named him the Great American Novelist last month.

"I sat with the photographer three weeks earlier so it was not a total shock," Franzen said Wednesday night during a reading at Barnes and Noble in Union Square, "but it was validating and nice to hear."

Franzen's latest work is his fourth full-length novel and follows the path of a couple from their first meeting through their marriage and their reflections on family.

"I really have no opinions about the American family," Franzen said. "I only know one and that's filtered through an emotional underworld. I'm dubious on even my reliability on my expertise with my own family. But I do know there will always be parents. There may not always be siblings, but there will always be kids and parents."

The author's last novel -- "The Corrections" -- was selected by Oprah for her Book Club but was later dropped when Franzen said he thought the talk show queen's seal on his work would turn off men. He declined to comment about whether he's spoken to Oprah since the 2001 incident.

After a book tour, Franzen says he will be taking some time before penning his next novel.

"It takes me a long time to write a book because I need to feel like I have something new to say," Franzen said.

After the book tour, Franzen said he may do more reporting on wildlife akin to the piece he wrote in July for The New Yorker about the savage hunting of birds.

"I was literally stepping out of my novelist practice and into being a journalist," Franzen said. "It's a big problem to get people interested in our environment, but that's as far as I'm going to step out of being a novelist for now."

This story ran on NBCNewYork.com's NiteSide.