Before I introduce today’s amazing guest, I have some exciting news to share. Last month at LITD, we soft launched a new video series called Further Ado with my sweetheart, David Cross, appearing as our first guest. So many of you tuned in and made it such a success that we decided to make the series official by teaming up with Substack for the launch of their new video capabilities, making it easier for us to connect with each other and grow our community. Now, you can watch previews of each interview, easily share clips to social media, and watch all Further Ado episodes in one place.
We’re so excited to partner with Substack in this launch and also share some of our AMAZING guests who will appear in the coming months on Further Ado: in December we welcome conflict resolution educator, strategic advisor, and author of The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker; we’re starting off the new year with a
bang buzz in January with producer, actress, and founder of Betty Buzz, Blake Lively; later in 2024 we'll be joined by artist, author, and founder of the beloved newsletter The Isolation Journals, Suleika Jaouad; this summer we’ll have a timely discussion with climate scientist and policy expert, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson; plus, we'll be sharing a special interview with my mom, Bonnie Tamblyn, a council facilitator and retired school teacher.
And now, with(out?) Further Ado, acclaimed novelist and creative writing master, Janet Fitch.
For decades, Janet Fitch’s writing has captured not just the hearts and minds of readers everywhere but also the depths of our souls. Her exploration of the relationship between a teenage girl and her incarcerated mother in the groundbreaking novel White Oleander challenged the way female protagonists and relationships could be written, and the characters in Janet’s following novels continued to take our collective breaths away. Her books are rich with texture; her characters vibrate off the page. It’s always thrilling to be a fly on the wall of their wild journeys, whether you’re reading the novel The Revolution of Marina M. and its continuation, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, about a young woman living through the Russian Revolution, or my personal favorite book of Janet’s, Paint It Black—a book which would become the catalyst for one of the most important creative experiences of my life.
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At the end of 2010, I met Janet through my friend, the poet Derrick C. Brown, and spent two years convincing her I should be the one to adapt Paint It Black into a feature film. Like me, Janet is a third-generation Angelino, and I was immediately drawn to how the narrative in Paint It Black reflects the real, complex dualities that Los Angeles holds: both its glamor and its darkness, its possibilities and its cruelties. I had become obsessed with translating the book’s haunting coming-of-age story of grief, loss, and personal triumph to the big screen, and after some time and getting to know each other, Janet gave me her blessing. I co-wrote the screenplay with Ed Dougherty and two years later, after much hustle and determination, I directed the adaptation into a feature film.
For our LITD newsletter, I wrote about the transformative experience of being believed in, by Janet and our female producers, at that pivotal point in my career and how it changed my life forever. Adapting and directing Paint It Black opened a door for me to the numerous possibilities of my own potential and showed me—no, proved to me—that I was, indeed, what I always believed I could become given the opportunity: a storyteller. Not just by way of acting, but through writing and executing the vision of storytelling itself.
For our second Further Ado interview (and our first in partnership with Substack’s new video feature), I spoke with Janet about adaptation: our collaboration adapting her book into our film, but also adaptation in a wider sense of the word—how artists, specifically writers, adapt in times of existential and literal crises. In this interview we explore everything from our friendship’s origin story (spoiler alert: I stalked her) to how creatives can adapt their thinking and their work to un-numb communities and make meaningful, potent art in difficult times.
More from today’s conversation:
Watch White Oleander
Any Man by Amber Tamblyn
“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde
"The Prose of the Trans-Siberian and Little Joan of France" by Blaise Cendrars
Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
"The Fairest of the Seasons" by Nico
“These Days” by Nico
"Birdland" by Patti Smith
“Summertime” by Janis Joplin
The War of the Roses
Vincent van Gogh and Jean-François Millet
Wtf is a terroir of grapes?
Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer
The Memory Room by Mary Rakow
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