You’re a non-famous person that interviewed really famous people. How can I do that?
When I started writing on this site, I never imagined my love for words or the arts would translate into blogs, commentaries, film reviews, event coverage or interviews with genuine superstars. But since that IS what happened, I think I can offer some advice on that question. A good start is figuring out the field you want to attack and then get in on the ground floor somewhere and just grind. If music is your industry, reach out to whomever your heroes or superstars are, or figure out how to be where they are. Write for a small blog for free or start your own YouTube channel interviewing local celebs, bands, artists.
If it’s music, reach out to musicians or their PR teams through email or social media (I prefer Twitter. A lot of people like it because it reveals the very least about them, and PR teams let celebrities have them because 140 characters is really difficult to screw up.). Most artists are really stoked about the opportunity at free press. A lot of my contacts in fashion has led to networking in the entertainment industry, because the two continue to intersect so frequently.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how accessible ‘celebrities’ or their teams and management can be.
What do you think of interning or apprenticeships?
I believe interning is a great way to get into an industry. I wouldn’t be able to have an intern, because my life is in a constant state of flux. Alexis was virtual and accomplished what every great assistant should: freed up my time to create content and make the hard decisions about running a blog/business.
Ask a magazine editor or even a successful blog writer if you can handle some of their smaller tasks for them, independent of the Craigslist BS (Initiative goes a long way!).
If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that knowledge can be invaluable if you intend to use it, so why put a price on it? $10 an hour to serve coffee or four hours a day with someone who has a little black book full of million-dollar clients? You can’t put a price on access.
Why do you think people visit the site?
The real core of connecting on the web, in my opinion, is being energetic and thrilled to do it. You’re constantly moved by working because you know how cool it is, and want nothing in return, except for whatever you’re doing to continue to resonate with people. That’s what the site has always been about: the art of creation, sharing, and how to do it against all odds.
I can only speculate what the draw is to me beyond what I create and the things I do… I think there’s a sincerity in the life I’ve chosen to live and share with the world. I wouldn’t change a thing.
What is the goal of your site?
I began the website for one reason that is as selfish as one can get: accountability. The way I was developing as a writer was reading and writing solely, not actually putting out the stuff I was making for the general public to consume. There was no concept of an audience beyond my friends, who often times asked me to edit and write stuff for them. Some of my friends asked to read my stuff, a great deal of which I had hidden in old notebooks or on crumpled sheets of paper living the nomad life of pocket-to-pocket. That’s when the opportunity to create a website first presented itself.
Today, there’s two goals: Share a bit of my life with folks who want to know, and help people learn and explore their inner-creative, who in most cases is dying to come out. It’s the voice that tells you to sketch on the back of business cards, or take a nonfiction writing class on Monday night after work. It just makes you do things that someone your age, or at your level, wouldn’t normally do. But you keep on, because it makes you damn happy.
So this site is a celebration of that voice.
What makes your site different?
I’m not the gal who is going to tell you to quit your gig. Incorporating art and passion into everyday life will make you a happier person. Think of it this way: I’m not a coach, I’m a player. I’m on the field with you, playing an active position in helping the team win. I’m the one pushing you forward.
Who are your biggest influences?
This is a question I answered in the original FAQ, which I posted below in all of its glory:
“The biggest (writing) influences on me are the late Nathanael West, author Chuck Palahniuk, author/screenwriter/CEO Tucker Max, blogger/cartoonist Hugh MacLeod and Charles Schulz, the late Peanuts cartoonist.
Those guys are funny, smart, honest and overall, brilliant. More than anyone who I’ve read or met, those guys continually surprise me. As far as their respective crafts are concerned, they just did whatever the heck they wanted to do. It really is the template that I want to use to find my way through the murkiness of writing online. Those guys poured their hearts into their work, and they now have fame, admiration and respect to show for it. They simplified the things that everyone tries to complicate: love your work and be true to yourself and the rest is inconsequential.
In music, I don’t think there’s anyone I particularly admire. There are lots of musicians and bands I love. Far too often, in the entertainment industry, your heroes can never live up to your expectations, so I rather just let them do their jobs and be lucky enough to watch and listen.
In art, Van Gogh, Monet and da Vinci still move me. They did things with a sketchbook and paint that people still cannot touch. I will look at Starry Night, and think it’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Any further description than that for any of those men is just critical jargon.”
As you can see, I have many influences. I think people mistake influence for imitation. Chuck Palahniuk and Philip K. Dick are great examples of this: I love everything that they have written EVER, but I can’t be Chuck or Philip. I think Tucker [Max] is one of the funniest, sharpest people I’ve ever met, but his kind of funny isn’t the same as mine. Their styles, experience and brand of storytelling are theirs alone.
I’m inspired by SO much. Art, music, film, current events, etc… They have some kind of lightning I try to capture in the bottle known as kristinavillarini.com.
For our new friends, here are the first version of the site’s FAQs…
What is being a lesbian like, and how does being gay influence your writing? What was it like growing up in New York?
These questions get asked a lot, so I figured I’d address them together. Being a lesbian is a lot like being a man, except you’re a woman. I have always tried to create stories that resonate with people. The dialogues, the relationships, the environment all have to be as real as possible or in my mind, I’ve failed as a creator. It never really was about gay or straight, but I felt that I wanted to provide as sincere a description of a heterosexual relationship as a homosexual one. It is my belief that the conflicts are similar.
Growing up a ‘true blue’ New Yorker provided me with the most thrilling opportunities for adventure, the coolest places to eat, the hottest women to date and overall, exposed me to a plethora of people and opinions not found anyway else. As a result, I’m an open-minded, subway-riding, Central Park-loving, city slicker.
How did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
It was always instinctual when I was young. I always gravitated toward a notepad with my thoughts or typed rebuttals to disagreements with my parents on the typewriter. I don’t think I knew how cathartic or important writing was to our overall peace of mind. But as I get older, it is still the only thing I have continued to find my way to, no matter how bleak or destructive my life became. I wrote on Brooklyn College’s newspaper. Every company that I worked for that had a newsletter, I wrote on it. Even when I felt the twinges of “writer’s block,” I blogged on social networks or read my old notebooks or journals. I was always improving upon my old concepts or stories. Writing is the only thing that has never left me.
What is the best way to contact you?
I say email or text message because it’s 2021.
What other things are you passionate about?
Most people know that since I’m married to writing, music is my dirty little mistress on the side. I spent sometime at the Scratch Academy recently, and discovered a hidden affinity for DJ’ing, so I would like to get good at that over the next few years.
I also love sports (Go Mets, Dolphins and Steve Nash), and I also have a great interest in politics, so who knows where that could lead?
How much discipline does it take to write?
I haven’t figured that out. In fact, I know even less now that I have written across a broad spectrum of genres. The challenge for me is finding the time to do it, but everything you love requires sacrifice. I think I have difficulty with the restriction of scheduling writing. It becomes a burden for me when you’re staring at your watch ready to start writing.
What is your process like?
The best analogy is “writing is like a clay pot.” I have enough discipline to compose thoughts and ideas, and to mold them into an interesting story (shape) and to try and capture it while it’s still pliant and fresh (wet). When it is ready, I’ll post it on here (the oven), and hope it doesn’t crack, and that the vision lasts the test of time.
I’ve actually not written stories because the idea became so warped and mulled over in my mind. I feel like there is just not much information you can get out of the cadaver of an idea.
In regards to writing, what is your worst quality?
I’m fortunate that I hardly ever second guess myself. I just procrastinate a great deal before I create anything, so it’s kind of a relief to put it out there. My biggest problem is finishing stories, admittedly. I think I’ve created endings that wrap things up, are fitting, but are so close to the vest, that finishing is difficult. It’s not as much about whether I can make the story better, but whether the world is willing to see it the way it was intended.
Do you try to write stories that can be enjoyed by everyone?
My stories are not happy or clean. They’re about life and the mess of it. I’m fascinated by the things that make us flawed. Why do we make bad decisions? I think that the world doesn’t want to see a character that doesn’t have the answers, or can easily resolve conflict. It’s too close to home. I want to create pictures and places that are so real, it could be happening in your living room or your office. Maybe it’s a conversation that could be happening in the seats next to you at a diner.
That’s what I hope I evoke: scary familiarity and intense emotion.