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Interview: The Rejectionist

Le R in Forks, WA
I contacted The Rejectionist requesting an interview the same way a ten year old girl might approach Justin Bieber for an autograph, pigtails quivering in giddy trepidation. She kindly agreed, and after a fairly deafening SQUEE, I prepared a few questions.

Then I read this post and threw my questions out. If you haven't read this post, I highly recommend you read this post right now. Before you read the interview. Because this post is awesome.

Seriously – now.

I love the Rejectionist's blog because it's hilarious and insightful. But I love the Rejectionist because of that post, and I'm so grateful she took the time to chat with yaHighway.


1. During your time making coffee, rejecting queries, and rejoicing at the correct spelling of Jackson Pollock, was it difficult to keep up your anonymous image as the blog grew more popular? Navigating the streets of NYC wearing an orc mask or disguising yourself as John McClane must get tiring.

Poor Jackson Pollock! Famous for all eternity as a clichéd metaphor for crime scenes and messy rooms! What a terrible fate!

Anyway. People thought I was a dude for a long time, which helped. But it honestly wasn't that difficult to stay anonymous. I think it is very easy, if you spend a lot of time reading publishing blogs, to assume that everyone in publishing is thinking about the internet all the time; but plenty of agents and editors have only a minimal interest in bloggers. I mean, it's not like I was ever at a party where everyone was peering around, whispering, "WHICH ONE IS SHE, DO YOU THINK." Although that would certainly have been very gratifying.

2. Life-changing career moves are usually a long time coming, growing slowly inside us until something happens - a rude comment, an over-steamed latte, spotting Mel Gibson on the subway - that makes us realize the change must be made NOW. What was that moment for you?

Utilikilts. Rejectionist approved.
It is so easy in New York to become fixated on lack; everything is so expensive, everyone around you has so much money, the split between people who have money and people who don't have money is so staggering.

I moved here in 2008, two weeks before the entire economy collapsed, and didn't find a job for two months--which might not sound that long, but we aren't talking "I lived off my considerable savings and was sad." More like, "I had a hundred dollars to my name." I was applying to twenty, thirty, forty jobs a week, and no one would call me and if they did call me they wouldn't hire me, and I was interning for four literary agents at the same time, just trying to find someone who would pay me, and those were two of the most terrifying and awful months of my life.

So when I did finally find a job, I clung to it, even though I knew going in that publishing wasn't where I wanted to end up. I kept telling myself I would quit at the end of the month. Before I knew it two years had gone by, and I was totally miserable, and furious with myself, because I always swore that I would never be that person, the person who stays in a job out of safety; and I wasn't even making enough money for it to be worth the sacrifice. I felt like I had accidentally gotten stuck in this crappy version of adulthood where I had all of the burdens and none of the benefits. I mean, if you're going to hock your dreams, at least get health insurance out of the deal.

And then over the holiday--I am going to get so West Coast on you right now--my partner's mom, who is an amazing astrologer, read my chart, and she told me that big things were about to happen for me but only if I trusted myself enough to let go of my fear of scarcity. And that was it, that was my Big Moment. So, basically, I quit my job because space rocks told me to.

3. How long have you been writing? Not in the "professional" sense, but in the "since my epic poem about gay bunnies in kindergarten" sense. What kind of stories did you write and/or read as a child?

Oh, since the womb, pretty much. I wrote a series of fantasy novels in elementary school, which are thankfully lost to the sands of time. A lot of opinion pieces: I was very passionate about the oppressive ills of cursive as a small child. Essays on how some of my classmates were hypocritical toadies, that sort of thing.

I read almost entirely fantasy and science fiction as a kid, and a lot of Shakespeare. Oh, and the bible, because it was the only book I was allowed to read in church; I became quite an expert on some of the more dubious passages of the Old Testament, which got me kicked out of Sunday school. There is a lot of very startling material in the Old Testament.

4. What kind of stories do you want to tell now, as an author?

Good ones, hopefully!

Five Real Fast (Write the first answer that comes to mind!)

1. Glenn Beck on a horse or Sarah Palin on a moose? (To ride with, I mean.) Suicide.

2. Favorite paranormal creature: Falkor.

3. Book you are most likely to use as a paperweight: I AM using the Three Musketeers as a paperweight at this very moment, but that's not a commentary on its quality.

4. Coffee or tea? Just kidding. Coffee orally or by IV bag? Macchiato.

5. Your three last words to Cretinous, if they could be anything....GO: Yippie ki-yay, motherfucker!*

*.....aaaaand she wins at life for that one.
Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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  1. I tried to write an intelligent comment but all that comes out is fangirl screaming.


    Great interview Michelle, and thank you Rejectionist!

  2. Space rocks never lie. Great interview.

  3. Thanks for this witty look at the maverick behind the mask.

  4. John McClane's words seem appropriate for almost any situation :)

    Thanks for the interview!

  5. LOL @ spacerocks. Good luck with your book!

  6. What a great interview. And I wish you so much luck with your future, Rejectionist!


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Item Reviewed: Interview: The Rejectionist Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman