Hostile Questions: Robin Wasserman

HOSTILE LOGORobin Wasserman is neither a “robin” nor a “wasser” nor a “man.”


Just who do you think you are?

From all appearances, the person least likely to write a book with so much axe/chainsaw/Molotov cocktail/blowtorch-killing in it. (Unless you ask my third grade teacher, who was the repository of so many death stares from yours truly that she probably regularly scans USA Today to see whether anyone’s dug up a bunch of bodies in my backyard.) I’m the end result of a suburban childhood comprised largely of reruns and Doritos, and firmly believe that every life situation can be explained by an episode of Saved by the Bell. These days, usually this one. (Except for the fake drugs, of course. Don’t do fake drugs, kids.)

And since you asked, I generally think I am pretty awesome, except for, say, every other day of the week, when I crawl inside this Last Days of Disco quote and wear it like a Silence of the Lambs jumpsuit:

You know that Shakespearean admonition, “To thine own self be true”? It’s premised on the idea that “thine own self” is something pretty good, being true to which is commendable. But what if “thine own self” is not so good? What if it’s pretty bad? Would it be better, in that case, not to be true to thine own self? . . .  See, that’s my situation.

Fraidy-cat Wasserman

                       Fraidy-cat, fraidy-cat

(I am clearly also a person who seeks profound, soul-excavating truths in fiction, specifically that of Whit Stillman, Stephen King, Stephen Sondheim, David Foster Wallace, and—all hail our supreme leader—Joss Whedon.)

Where do you get off?

If you mean, as in “stop the ride, I want to get off,” the answer is: As soon as humanly possible. (As long as we’re talking metaphorical ride. I’m perversely good with roller coasters.) I am a world class wimp: too klutzy to take any kind of physical risk, too chicken for any other kind. This is genetic, as no one in my family tree, as far as I can tell, has ever taken a risk of any kind (or managed to make it through 24 hours without falling down).

I will also immediately exit any form of transportation that starts airing an episode of the (formerly favorite until it broke my brain at age 11) show Twin Peaks. This includes airplanes.

The Waking DarkWhat’s the big idea?

With The Waking Dark, I set out to write a book that would scare the crap out of anyone who came near it, partly because I like the idea of scaring the crap out of people, but partly because I feel it’s a public service to everyone out there who’s as big a wimp as I am.

See, the big idea I had sometime between discovering Stephen King (who saved my junior high sanity on a regular basis) and setting out to dredge up my own inner King and unleash him on the world, was that the true appeal of horror—at least for readers like me—is that it shows you how to be brave. It, my all-time favorite Stephen King novel and the one I read approximately once a week through eighth and ninth grade, is practically a blueprint for surviving the horrors of adolescence. In the best scary stories, terror isn’t an excuse for courage, but a breadcrumb trail leading straight for it.

Horror novels map the darkness. And, as you may have gathered, I’m the kind of person who prefers never to go anywhere without a map. It seemed about time to try my hand at making one of my own.

What is your problem, man?

What’s wrong with me, according to friends, exes, former employers, and baristas:

  • nail biting
  • picky eating
  • aversion to coffee
  • embarrassing taste in music including Broadway obsession and persistent affinity for Billy Joel
  • believes eye-rolling to be unnoticeable
  • possible physical inability to control said eye-rolling
  • procrastination addiction

According to my mother:

Absolutely nothing. How dare you even ask?

Haven’t you done enough?

If you count the Scooby-Doo picture books, Pokemon chapter books, sleepover activity books, LEGO adventures, (New York Times bestselling!) movie adaptations, Star Wars series, most-embarrassing-moment collections, and Britney Spears trivia, not to mention the sci-fi trilogy, the semi-autobiographical black comedy, the historical thriller, and the series that got turned into the most awesome Lifetime mini-series of all time (totally unbiased opinion there), I’ve probably written more than 100 books . . . and yet somehow, thus far, I’ve managed to avoid winning both the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. I also have zero vacation houses. So it’s back to the salt mines I go.

(There’s also that whole thing about how I will always have more stories to tell and am living my childhood dream, but seriously, how great would it be to have some vacation houses?)



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

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