Interviews > Quinn Cummings

Quinn Cummings
Quinn Cummings

bullet Quinn's Book: Notes from the Underwire, by Quinn Cummings.

Notes from the Underwire, by Quinn Cummings

bullet Quinn's blog:
The QC Report.
Bottled drink warning: do not swig while reading or you WILL spray your screen!

bullet Quinn Cummings in the Wikipedia

bullet Quinn's cool invention (as if she's not already doing enough): The hiphugger baby sling

Other interviews with Quinn Cummings:

bullet Blog Critic's book review interview with Quinn Cummings

bullet Interview with Quinn Cummings on Backspace, the Writer's Place

bullet Tom's thoughtful question to Quinn on creativity and writing

bullet Sara in Vermont's interview of Quinn Cummings

bullet Author Julie Klam's funny interview question for Quinn Cummings

bullet Questions from Dawn Maria

bullet Joyce Saenz Harris interviews Quinn Cummings

...and more! Check out Quinn's archives starting July 2009.



Quinn Cummings
Quinn Cummings today

Despondent film clip
Quinn Cummings in The Goodbye Girl

Interview with Quinn Cummings
Author, entrepreneur, child actress, lover of all things caramel, and foster mama cat extraordinaire

by Holly Russo

I started reading The QC Report (Quinn's blog) when I adopted a feral kitten from a box in a Home Depot. I wrote to a friend about my close calls with cat scratch fever and the dog's relentless attempts to surreptitiously ingest the new squirrel-gray creature stimulating the predator lobe of his brain, and my friend replied with a single URL -- Quinn's post about her orange foster kitty Galicia.

Here's an excerpt from that epic post describing her cat's reaction to the new foster kitty:

"Lulabelle, the cat, has taken the attitude of “That thing which is very ratlike and is shouting is not in my house. Because if it were in my house, I would have to deal with it, which would probably mean eating it, and I think you would get irrationally emotional about it. So, I’m going to ignore on a world-class level. If I have the misfortune to see her, I will indicate my displeasure by gurgling in rage for a few minutes and then vomiting."

You see why I was hooked, right? I'm not the only one. Readers are saying things like:

"Books never make me laugh out loud. This one did. Quinn Cummings doesn't seem to be able to not be funny."

"I laughed so hard at one point, I had to put the book down and calm myself."

"[The quote] "We never use Mommy's toothbrush to get the cat looking her best" made me spit my breakfast onto my desk - and it's not even that far into the book. This whole thing is riotous! Quinn's book is one hysterical essay after another... More, please!

And the praise continues to pour in. Publishers and other authors have said:

"Erma Bombeck with an edge."
--U.S.A. Today

"Quinn Cummings is a master story-teller and her book is nothing short of delightful. Her insights into topics like celebrity, parenting, and cats with a taste for homicide are pithy and uproarious and not to be missed. Notes from the Underwire is charming, hilarious, and just snarky enough to be ultimately satisfying."
--Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of Bitter is the New Black and Such a Pretty Fat

"I hadn't laughed out loud while reading a book for years, but Quinn Cumming's struggles nearly did me in. Although she describes herself as a woman who constantly blurts out exactly the wrong thing, she says everything exactly right in the brilliantly overwrought Notes from the Underwire."
--Bob Tarte, author of Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather

Below, Quinn talks about writing, her favorite books as a kid, and the uselessness of a slow-cooker to one who hates to acknowledge that hunger may eventually surface at some unknown future point. (Finally, a kindred soul!) Read on -- interview with Quinn Cummings, author of Notes from the Underwire:

Do you have a favorite word?

Diaspora. Bad concept, highly melodic word. It's like people are being forced from their homeland while also dancing on tulle.

What do you never seem to have time for?

I keep thinking I'm going to use the slow-cooker because, hey! Saved time! But you save time only if you considered twelve hours earlier than someone might want chili tonight. And since it never occurs to me that people, you know, EAT, dinner is always an unpleasant surprise.

Is there something that's difficult thing for you to say "no" to?

Oh, so many things. Taking someone to the airport. Reading someone's script. Fostering some small mammal who vomits. Reading a book I kind of suspect I'm going to find dull but came highly recommended by a more educated person than myself.

It's also difficult for me to say no to ice cream, but that's a different problem.

How many hours do you spend writing each week? Do you wish you spent more or less time doing so?

I probably only write about four hours for each blog. With the blog tour, I'm probably writing another couple of hours a day, but that's temporary. That doesn't factor in thinking, though. Contrary to anyone's suspicions after reading my blog, I do think before I start writing. I like thinking about what to write, so I'd say that I spend just about the right amount of time working on my writing, in all forms.

Does a writing topic ever keep you awake at night?

Is it shallow of me to admit no? Then again, I stay pretty solidly in the shallow end of the pool, in a literary way. You cover Pakistan, you're awake at night. You write stories about your cat's bladder problems, you might be sleeping lightly, but it's mostly because you keep thinking you hear the cat peeing on your humidifier.

(This term is relative but I must ask anyway): what is your favorite way to "waste time"?

We put a game on the computer for the kid, "Fishdom." You move fish and clear spaces. It's not hard. I mean, it's for children. And yet, when I'm drifting at the end of the day, I click on "Fishdom," pull up a "Planet Money" or two and move fish while listening to how we're all going to hell. It's wasted time, but time I wouldn't spend any other way.

Are you hard on yourself?

Terribly. Endlessly. Like Consort gets mad at me and says, "If anyone else were treating you this way, I'd punch them. But it's you!"

Are there any impulses you find hard to resist?

Nearly anything to do with butter or sleep. I'm currently trying to determine how to eat butter while napping.

Do you finish every book you start to read?

I'd be a better person if I did, but I've come to the conclusion that if my family history is any indication, I've lived over half of my life and I might end up leaving abruptly. I'd hate to think my last breaths were drawn trying to get through yet another biography of Virginia Woolf.

Do you have a lucky pen/pencil or is your writing instrument unimportant? (I am guessing you write mostly on the computer for convenience's sake, but many writers grow attached to an implement.)

I was about to say "Why, I have no superstitions whatsoever!" And then I noticed I'm working on the big computer as opposed to one of the two laptops, because I hate the smaller keyboards. I think they make me sound whiny.

Name a favorite book you liked as a youngster.

So many books I can't even begin, but I'll offer two: "Phantom Tollbooth" and "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Mix the two of them and you have a pretty good glimpse into my character.

What time of day do you feel most creative?

After I've taken the kid somewhere which is going to keep her for about four hours and then I've done a quick and brutal workout. The workout gives me the excuse to eat something fattening, during which time I read a magazine. After the workout, the eating and the magazine, I realize with a sick flash that the carpool will be bringing the kid back in less than an hour, so I write like a maniac until I hear her leaning on the doorbell.


Doubtless, people have asked what advice you have for aspiring writers. Some people write every day, some say being well-read is essential, some say to heavily edit... what works for you?

I think I rewrite heavily in my head. I can't say this is the best style for anyone not writing first-person material, but it works for me. For me, it's having the patience to say "Yes, thing I am thinking about, some day you'll let me know when you're ready to be written down." I still think I truly lucked out with the whole writing business and I wouldn't dare give someone advice.

What do you get asked often?

The meaning of the title (None).
How the kid feels about being in the book (Fine, but annoyed she can't read all of it).
How Consort feels about being in the book (Bust-his-buttons proud. Really, he's practically leaping into peoples' cars and acting out bits of it).

Do your kittens like being read to? ;)

Only if I leave the book low enough so they can chew on the corners.

More Quinn, More Quinn!

Ok, ok, I hear your cries!

bullet Quinn's blog: The QC Report.
NOTE: liquid beverage warning: do not swig while reading or you WILL spray your screen!

bullet Quinn in the Wikipedia

bullet Quinn's cool invention (as if she's not already doing enough): The hiphugger baby sling

Also see other interviews with Quinn Cummings at top (left sidebar).