One Question with Katie Heaney

The internet is a funny place. Minnesota-bred and newly NYC-based (as of September 2013!) writer Katie Heaney just kind of showed up one day on The Hairpin/The Awl blogroll with her intensely spot-on analyses with her Reading Between the Texts series. (I’d love to hear what Katie would have to say if she conducted a tutorial on the do’s and don’t’s of texting etiquette: passive aggressive emojis, punctuation marks, harsh brevity, timing, putting an end to “mixed messages,” you know…) She’s since then have written for other www faves such as BuzzFeed, New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, The Rumpus, and others. And in January 2014, Katie will take her hilarious little musings on relationships—oh, relationships—off the computer screen and into a bound book with her comedic memoir Never Have I Ever, which she describes as “about being a girl in protracted, crush-y, unrequited love, social anxiety, and my best friend” coming out on Grand Central Publishing. In the spirit of human interaction and dialoguing, Katie Heaney explains a piece of writing that has affected the way she reconsiders verbalism. To that I express with: :)! —JL

What one book or piece of writing has changed the way you think about your own work?

This question is giving me a complex because on the one hand I don’t typically think too much about “my work,” as it were — maybe my editors wish that I would? — but on the other I don’t think that I’m uninfluenced by what I read, either. I just don’t know how I’d ever pick out ONE book. I think that, for the most part, what affects the way I write is the way my friends and I talk and text and Gchat with each other.

However! What comes to mind if I AM trying to pick out just one piece of writing is a 10-minute play by my good friend Chiara Atik called “January 9, 1997.” It’s not available online but hopefully someday it’s being produced at a theater near you. The entire thing takes place between two young women in the backseat of the cab. They both just came from the same engagement party, and they’ve known each other for years, but there’s this pretty wide gap in how each views her relationship to the other — one of them is all chipper, thinks they’re great friends, and soon finds out the other never really liked her at all. And it’s just really funny, and sad — because that’s always the worst, finding out you were wrong about how someone imagined you — and sweet, too. And it’s just this tiny scene, this tiny 10-minute window in two people’s lives, and still I think it’s just so essentially human that it feels much bigger. Chiara is also just very good at girlish dialogue, and I mean that in the most sincerely appreciative way. It’s very emphatic.

I think sometimes I get into little crises where I wonder if I should be trying to “do more” in scope with my writing, or something, and I am not sure where this comes from apart from being the oldest child and a former Catholic and a Type A. But probably, ultimately, what I like to write and read about the most are little stories like these. I love writing and reading two girls kind of just excitedly talking to each other. I really don’t think there’s anything I find funnier.


Coming out January 14, 2014!