Quinn Cummings & Notes from the Underwire

August 10, 2009
Cummings' first book.

Cummings' first book.

Every writer has a story of how she went from idea to manuscript to publication. With us today to share her journey is Quinn Cummings, author of the recently released Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life.

Hyperion Books, Quinn’s publisher, on the book:

From fighting off a catnip-addled cat to a mortal conflict with a sewing machine, Quinn provides insight into her often chaotic, seldom-perfect universe — a universe made even less perfect when the goofy smile of past celebrity shows its occasional fang. The book, like the author herself, if good hearted, keenly observant, and blisteringly funny.

Go head, buy the book. You know you wanna.

Quinn Cummings

Quinn Cummings

Quinn is famous for something other than her book. If you recognize her name, it’s probably because she was an Oscar-nominated child actress. She even has her own Wikipedia entry.

(Quinn, I hate to tell you, but I’d never heard of you before we connected on Twitter. I was born in 1981, after your roles in The Goodbye Girl film and television drama Family. Plus, in all honesty, movie culture isn't my forte.)

Alright, let’s get down to it.

I'm not (yet) a mother. Quinn, Why should I want to read your book?

Because just like an artist can work in oils or marble or butterscotch pudding and still be an artist working in different mediums, I am a well-intentioned screw-up who is using motherhood as her medium. I'm also a well-intentioned screw-up with rescuing animals, dressing myself and preparing dinner. If you've ever felt less than completely able at something, know that I'm right there with you.

You got your book deal from your blog! (This excites me because my travel blog, Inkslinging in Africa, is serving as a skeleton for my memoir.) How did that happen?

I read a great many wonderful writers who have blogs. Candidly, some are better writers than I am. I got a book deal and they didn't, and it's pretty much entirely due to my having been a former child actor, which Marketing at a publishing house thought would help sell the book. Hugely unfair; if you have an MFA an a drawer full of polite turndowns from agents, feel free to hate me.

Two years ago, a child was nominated for an Oscar. USA Today did a story about other people nominated for Oscars as children and what they were doing now. My editor read the article, saw that I was writing a blog, read the blog, and contacted me. But again, it bears noting that Marketing had to approve my book deal before the editor could offer me one. Even two years ago, when all the started, the publishing industry was tightening and making decisions which weren't always based on the finest manuscript out there.

Are you naturally funny, or did you have to work hard to make your book humorous? Is your witty literary voice a reflection of your personality?

According to Consort and friends who know me well, the book sounds an awful lot like me. I tend to agree because the more I've written the blog and now the book, the less I've wanted to actually speak to people, preferring instead to wave towards the nearest computer monitor and mumble, “Just read the blog.” So am I, in fact, nervous and painfully self-conscious and dangerously well-intentioned in real life? Oh, yes. But when I talk, you don't hear my patented overuse of commas.

This is your first book. What surprised you about the writing and publishing process?

How very long it was. I was given a year to write and a year to do what I keep referring to as post-production, which is a film word and not a publishing word, but I'm going to keep using it. Somehow, it seems hubristic to give something I produce while wearing pajama bottoms and a t-shirt two years to gestate.

Thanks, Quinn!

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