Bret Easton Ellis' new novel ''Imperial Bedrooms'' comes 25 years after literary his debut.

By Keith Staskiewicz
May 28, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Less Than Zero

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EW It’s been a quarter of a century since Less Than Zero was published.
Bret Easton Ellis It sounds so dramatic when you put it that way.

Was it weird to revisit these characters and this book after so long?
It didn’t feel weird, it felt natural, because it was an emotional response to a question. I just wanted to know where Clay was after all these years. And I was rereading Less Than Zero a lot while I was working on the outline.

And what did you think of it?
Well, I hadn’t reread it since it came out. I was nervous that it was going to be pretty bad. Whenever you finish a book, by the time it’s done, you’ve read it 5,000 times. So I end up never reading the book again after it’s published. So I was bracing myself to be underwhelmed, but…no. I liked it. It was good. I guess I understand its reputation in a way. It was well written for someone who was 19.

Any literary advice you’d give your 19-year-old self?
Read. Just read a lot of books. And if I had known it was going to be as popular as it was, there are certain things that I wish I had done differently. Certain paragraphs that could have been more elegantly written, or certain sentences that should be excised.

You start the sequel with a bit of meta-commentary about the 1987 movie adaptation. What’s your opinion of it?
Kinder now than when I first saw it. But even when I first saw it, I felt kind of excited by it. I watched it in kind of a daze. It wasn’t until it was really over that I realized that they hadn’t used a single scene from the book or a single line of dialogue.

Both Less Than Zero and Imperial Bedrooms are named after an Elvis Costello work. If you wrote a third, what would you call it?
My Aim Is True suddenly comes to mind.

Any other books you’d like to revisit?
Someone the other day was telling me, ”You know what your next book should be? You really need to tap into the young-adult market.” They said I should write a YA novel about [American Psycho‘s] Patrick Bateman’s teen years. I don’t think I could do it, but it’s fun to imagine the possibilities.

Less Than Zero

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