An Interview with Kim Gruenenfelder
What music, food, drink, toys, etc. do you keep by your side when you're writing?
I always have a cup of coffee at my desk. Always. I also usually have a scented candle burning. I spend way too much on candles. But my thinking is: writing can be emotionally exhausting, and when you’re doing it you need things around you that make you feel spoiled, so you’re motivated to keep going. Scented candles make me feel spoiled. Right now, in the middle of July, this office smells like a winter forest. Perfect.
And French Roast. I’ll admit, the room also smells a little like Starbucks French Roast.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? How?
I’ve actually been thinking about this question a lot, because I can only narrow it down to five people. My parents, for two totally different reasons: my mother, an artist from a family of artists, taught me that some people really do go on to be writers, actors, directors and musicians, so don’t argue for your limitations. My father, a solid Midwestern guy, taught me that you have to work hard for everything important, and to be really grateful and humble when you do become successful, because some of it really has to do with luck. My sister has been my buddy and sounding board my entire life. My husband forces me to keep plugging away at my dreams, even when I desperately just want to move to suburbia and get a nice office job somewhere. And my son gives my life meaning in a way I didn’t even know was possible.
Do you cook? If so, is there any particular dish that you've mastered and would like to share?
I do cook, but I am not a fan of complicated dishes that need to be mastered. I’m the type that goes to the butcher’s to get the best filet mignon, then simply grills it. Or chops up really fresh veggies from Gelsons for a salad. So, you know, trying to get a recipe out of me that includes 18 different ingredients and an hour and a half prep time… that’ll never happen. Life’s too short, and my martini’s getting warm. I also own really nice china, silver and crystal so I can get away with ordering pizza or Thai food for dinner when I want to have a dinner party and don’t want to look at my kitchen as anything but the room where I keep the corkscrew.
What book, movie, TV show, or album has changed your life, and how?
I had two TV shows, one in my youth, and one when I was a bit older. As a child, Charlie’s Angels had a big effect on me because it was the first show I discovered where the women were considered equal to the men. I now see the writing was often bad, the directing frequently substandard, the plots ridiculous, and the women half dressed. But, at the time, I got to watch a one hour show that I felt centered on strong women who could hold their own in a man’s world. And my favorite scenes were always when the girls talked to each other.
Later in my life, I discovered the Mary Tyler Moore Show in reruns, and it amazes me how women struggle with the same things now that they did more than thirty years ago. My favorite scenes were from her home life, when she talked to Rhoda (and sometimes Phyllis) about “girl stuff”: dating, work, etc. And the last scene of the pilot, where she breaks up with her fiancée… that’s a damn good scene.
Who’s your present celebrity crush? Name a past celebrity crush.
Just to clarify, I am very happily married. But my present celebrity crush is Stephen Colbert. He not only looks fantastic in a suit, but I love a man who can use the word “quatrain” in a sentence and still be funny.
I was thinking back to my crushes of the past, and here’s a weird thing: I’ve met all of them at some point, except for one. And I could have met Colbert, but I intentionally avoided it. Meeting your crush never works out the way you hope. All of the men I’ve met were very charming and attentive. But what happens when you meet these guys is you either talk to them for a few minutes, and realize you have very little in common. (Like, seriously, can the A.D. tell him he needs to go back to set, because I want to get out of here?) Or, if you talk for hours, then you’re sad when the conversation is over because, really, this guy is a star, so it’s not like you can ask him for his card and go have a drink sometime.
That said – if Stephen Colbert would like to go out for a drink, he can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Wear the Brooks Brothers.
Besides being an author, what is your fantasy job?
I would love to be on the writing staff of a television show. I have been lucky enough to get that job twice in my life, and hope to do it again. Writing a novel is hard because you do it for a year or more with no feedback whatsoever. On staff of a show, you get immediate feedback on your work. Plus, the TV writers I know are all so freakin’ talented, I’m excited when I get to spend time with them. To get to go to work every day and be with these people… dream job.