Blogger and editor Kenneth M. Walsh can now add another title to his list of professions — author. The creator of the popular site recently penned a memoir of hilarious and touching posts in a book titled . I had a chance to talk with Kenneth about the book, blogging and of Thomas Roberts.
Scroll on down to read our interview with blogger and author Kenneth M. Walsh:
First off, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview! How’s it feel being a published author?
I’d like to say it’s a dream come true, but it really feels more like a relief. This is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember — heck, I even wrote a book in junior high about my sixth-grade camp experience — so it feels great to have finally accomplished it.
How did you choose the anecdotes for the book? Was it a deliberate choice to pen a memoir instead of an autobiography?
Well, the book was inspired by my blog, , which is a random collection of posts that are written depending on whatever’s on my mind that day. So I always thought of the project as being a “book of essays” rather than a memoir or autobiography.
The things I wrote about were things that were either dear to my heart — my mom, my boyfriends over the years — or things that were so incredibly fucked-up they just had to be shared! In the end, the publisher called it a memoir because it didn’t have that traditional narrative of an autobiography, but we did try to sequence the stories so that it told a story.
What’s one story that you wanted to include in the book that didn’t make it?
I had a brief liaison with a Z-list celebrity that got cut. But there’s always Volume 2, so don’t let your guard down, Mister!
O-ho! So speaking of Z-list celebrities, let’s cut right to the whole scandal. It seemed like fans and readers were really behind you posting them, and they went viral.
Oh, yeah. It was the biggest post of my blog’s history for many years. I found it hilarious that even the people criticizing me for posting them were including the photos on their own websites! And by hilarious, I mean shamefully hypocritical.
Ha! You know it’s fair game on the Internet these days.
Right. Many people have told me how much they liked my book, but then confessed to jumping ahead to the Thomas Roberts and Mike Henson stories. What are ya gonna do? Boys will be boys!
They want the dirt! At the part when he confronts you in that bar… I was getting goosebumps just reading that part! Does he still reach out to you?
Not recently, although we are both going to be at an event tomorrow night. Let’s hope there isn’t another chapter in him. I asked him to knock it off a year or two ago, and he hasn’t bothered me since.
Well that’s good. That line where he talks about you and Debbie Gibson… Hindsight is 20/20, I hope.
I know, right? Debbie Gibson and I are friends only in my dreams!
Nice musical interlude! The title of your book is inspired by music too. !
Yes. I consider myself a real wordsmith — I come from a family of copy editors — but when it came time to coming up with a title, I was all over the map. We had a few lined up, but then the Waitresses song/album title came into my head, and I couldn’t help but face the fact that it was so perfect for my “little boy who dreams of moving to New York City” tale.
“I Know What Boys Like” would be a great follow-up.
Yes!!! I cut myself some slack when I remembered “Less Than Zero” was actually an Elvis Costello song before Bret Easton Ellis made it his own. Plus, there’s an entire generation — and a lot of mine — who didn’t even appreciate Chris Butler and the Waitresses.
Well if it turns up on the next season of Looking, it’ll be introduced to a whole new generation. Write that down, Michael Lannan!
Now that would be great!
Going back to the book, you also talk about your family in depth, particularly your mother. You two had a pretty unconventional relationship.
Yes, my mom was and is my favorite person in the world. But she was also the kind of person who would have been perfect as a cool teacher or friend’s mom. When it came to being an actual mom, her unconventional ways were sometimes hard to understand as a kid, like when I won the Outstanding First Grader Award at Hiller Elementary School and her reaction was something like, “Do I really have to go down to that fucking place?”
You don’t spare any expense in your description of her in “Hooray for Mollywood”. She definitely sounds very no-nonsense!
I get it now, but [back] then…
Living in New York was always your dream. There are several points in the book that really drive that home. What have been some of your favorite New York moments?
I grew up worshiping Debbie Harry and Blondie, so the day I was walking out of my little walk-up apartment building, and I saw the blonde goddess coming east on 18th Street was a New York moment that I will never forget! I just stood there, jaw dropped, as Debbie Harry got an inch away from me. I finally mustered up the strength to say, “Hi, Debbie” — to which she said, “Hello” and kept walking. I literally had to sit down on the stoop for a few minutes because I was so blown away!
Meeting one of your idols just strolling down the street in NYC — it sounds like something out of a movie!
It truly was. Now I can’t stop bumping into her — and I’m not even trying! But that’s the thing about New York. So many famous and talented people live on this tiny island, so you run into them all the time. I was eating at Le Pain Quotidien the other day, and my lunch date said out of the side of her mouth, “Isn’t that Susan Sarandon?” It was, but I’m so bad at spotting them that I didn’t even notice… unless it’s Debbie Fucking Harry!
The other weekend, my boyfriend and I were in SoHo, and these four black women who were obviously from out of town came up to us wanting to know where the Louis Vuitton store was.
I stood there trying to point them in the right direction while Michael is kicking me, and trying to get my attention. I was getting annoyed, like “Why is this guy hitting me?” When they walked away he was like, “Did you not realize that was Kandi and Phaedra from The Real Housewives of Atlanta?”
I totally didn’t, but if I had, I’d have demanded to know where Apollo was!
Right? Hello nurse! Some people are probably saying that about you too. “Isn’t that Kenneth in the (212)?”
Actually, that does happen. It’s so funny.
How does it feel?
I love it when readers come up to me. I’m really shy, so I admire people who can do that. And of course I love hearing that what I’m doing connects with people.
You started your site back in the golden age of blogging in 2005. What are some lessons you’ve learned from it?
Well, I quickly learned you can’t be all things to all people. At one point I wanted my blog to be more of an all-purpose LGBT source of news and fun, but there are too many special interests and niches out there to be please everyone, so I went back to writing about stuff that makes me happy. (Tennis, music, movies, books and hot men.)
I’ve also learned that there are a lot of trolls out there who have nothing better to do than leave nasty comments! But I guess everyone knows that now.
Oh yes. Especially on YouTube or CNN. Don’t read the comments!
Yeah. And here’s the thing: The second I changed my commenting system to forcing people to identify themselves, I never got another nasty comment again. Go figure. My feeling is I am willing to put my name and face on the stuff I write and post, so why shouldn’t they?
Your blog has really grown a lot too, and not just because of those Roberts photos. What’s your readership like now?
I still have a cult following — which is sort of like a real estate agent describing an apartment as “cozy” — but it’s something like half a million pageviews a month. What’s great is I will find out Hollywood producers and studio heads read my site, so I try to dwell on the quality over quantity!
Impressive! That’s big in this age of Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks. When I remember my brother and two friends were my readers before, it is kind of cool.
What do you think people will be most surprised about when they read the book?
People are always surprised when they find out my boyfriend and I have been together for 12 years and don’t live together. It’s such a New York City situation — we both have small rent-stabilized one-bedrooms that neither wants to give up but neither of which is big enough for two men — but it works for us.
I also think my battle with social anxiety disorder has surprised a lot of people. At heart, I am a very outgoing person. But as I write in the book, this condition took over when I was going through puberty — I believe as a result of hiding my sexuality and the shame that came with it — and I have struggled with it ever since.
Well the two apartments sounds very Annie Hall.
LOL. Thank YOU! It’s like a lifeboat.
New York City real estate is expensive too! And I hear moving can be a nightmare. Why ruin a good thing just for cohabitation? It’s not like you live half a world away.
And the funny thing is, almost everyone who judges us later pulls us aside and says, “I would LOVE to have my own private space” on the side. My mom thinks it’s great!
The last chapter in the book felt like a scene from Sex and the City — highs, lows, and ice cream. Where do you go from here?
I like that, thanks!
Well, I was approached by Augusten Burroughs’ literary agent about writing the book in 2006 or so after he’d read something on my blog, so getting it done has sort of been hanging over me for years. Because I was so happy in my life — relationship, successful blog getting me invited everywhere, dream job at The New York Times — it just sort of faded to the background.
But when I got laid off in 2010, it inspired me to buckle down and get busy. Of course, once I finished the manuscript, it took another one or two years for it to be edited, shopped around, sold and released.
So I’m really in the process of enjoying this moment — but I’ve already begun to think about a second book.
Where can our readers pick up Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? A Memoir?
is your best bet. It’s also had a soft launch in bookstores, like Three Lives & Co. in New York City. But if you are like me and want to support your local bookstore, please ask them to order it for you. It might cost a little bit more, but you will be glad you are helping keep bookstores alive… and I might even stop by your city for a signing.
Sounds awesome! Kenneth, thanks for taking time out of your day and talking with us! Best of luck to you on the book!
Thanks! This has been fun.
Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? A Memoir by Kenneth M. Walsh is available for purchase on . You can also follow Kenneth on his blog, .
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