Writers & Lovers author Lily King talks Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Judy Blume, more pop culture inspirations
Lily King made a name for herself in a big way with the release of her novel, Euphoria, in 2014 — on top of being a bestseller it was a National Book Critics Circle Awards finalist and one of EW's best books of the year. Her latest tome, Writers & Lovers, is a departure insofar as the subject matter but is no less arresting. Whereas Euphoria's logline was, essentially, Margaret Mead studying New Guinea in the 1930s, Writers & Lovers follows a young protagonist as she tries to create a writing career for herself while simultaneously dealing with the tragic (and very sudden) death of her mother.
Ahead of the novel's publication on March 3 — it's worth mentioning that it has just been chosen as Jenna Bush Hager's March book club pick — she spoke to EW about her pop culture obsessions and how they've fueled her literary life.
My favorite book as a child
Judy Blume’s It's Not the End of the World. My mother conveniently gave me that book a couple of months before she left my father. It’s about divorce, and I read it I think in 1974 — not a lot of divorce was happening in my community so it was an incredibly useful manual for me. Judy Blume humanizes this family and you just feel for everybody. I just love that book like it was my own life, and I think it really helped me through.
Author who made me want to be a writer
The first one was definitely Judy Blume. And when I was a kid I loved Julie Edwards, who was actually Julie Andrews. But she had a couple of books for kids that I also loved, one was called Mandy. Also Jo March in Little Women, definitely.
Movies and shows I watch over and over again
In terms of books, The Evening of the Holiday, by Shirley Hazzard, I read over and over. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway, and then I am just such a sucker for the romantic comedy. 13 Going on 30 and Just Like Heaven and Notting Hill are some of my very favorites. And also the BBC long version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.
The classic novel that I never read
Crime and Punishment. I have it. I just bought it again, it’s like the 18th time I’ve bought it. I need to read it.
My favorite TV show that I’m currently watching
Fleabag, of course, Fleabag. There’s nothing else for me but Fleabag.
Favorite book about restaurants
When I was writing this book I read Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and she has that fantastic Franny section, when she’s a cocktail waitress and meets an older writer. And I had written my draft when I read that. But it’s just brilliant, it’s so brilliant, and I was so full of admiration and also feeling like mine couldn’t possibly measure up.
The last movie I watched
Pain and Glory. That was great.
A fictional world I would pick to live in
It’s in my head now, but Pride and Prejudice. Not that I want to live in that world, but I wouldn’t mind being with Colin Firth in the BBC version.
The first album I bought
I had older siblings so the first of theirs I was obsessed with was Cat Stevens, but the first I bought myself was probably Simon and Garfunkel, and then the Carpenters and John Denver.
My pop culture cure for writer’s block
I start reading. And I read actively. I start to write in the mornings, with a strong cup of tea after breakfast, and so instead of writing I’ll go to a chair in my study and make my strong tea and just start reading. And that is just such an incredible pleasure for me and brings me back immediately to why I love to write. It’s a great way to replenish. I think it’s really important to step away if it’s not happening and treat yourself to whatever you want to do.