Laurie Sandell is the author of The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir (Little, Brown, July 2009). She has written for Esquire, GQ, New York, InStyle, and Real Simple, among other publications, and is currently a contributing editor at Glamour, where she has also published cartoons.
I’m most inspired by books, specifically my favorite memoirs: The Liar’s Club, by Mary Karr, This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff, The Duke of Deception, by Geoffrey Wolff, and Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy, to name just a few. The comedy writer Merrill Markoe, who co-created The Letterman Show and has written eight books, has been a very important mentor to me—we met when I edited a piece she wrote for Glamour. And not to get all New-Agey on you, but my yoga teacher, Eddie Stern, and my meditation teacher, Josh Korda, teach me something new on a daily basis.
I’m a huge fan of Google Earth—specifically the tour of North Korea, called “North Korea Uncovered.” It’s fascinating to have the chance to explore the most hidden civilization on earth. I also like to torture myself by logging onto Goodreads and seeing who did and didn’t like my book. And I frequently visit friends’ blogs: merrillmarkoe.com, emandlo.com, and happyendingseries.blogspot.com, run by Amanda Stern, who created the popular monthly Happy Ending Music & Reading Series at Joe’s Pub in New York City. My friends make me laugh.
I’m a highbrow/lowbrow person: I subscribe to The New Yorker and Granta, but I’ll also pick up US Weekly, People, and Star on the newsstand. It’s horrible—I keep promising myself I’m going to stop, but I don’t drink or smoke so I haven’t found a replacement addiction yet.
Right now it’s London, because I have so many friends living there. Whenever I go, I do the usual touristy things like museums, plays and garden walks. But I also get to stay in cozy apartments, play with my friends’ kids, and eat home-cooked meals with people I adore. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling the world—I did it for four years straight in my twenties—and at this point in my life, it’s the people that make the city for me. That said, I still fantasize about returning to New Delhi, and would love to spend time traveling around Africa.
Favorite graphic work?
My favorite graphic novels are Art Speigelman’s Maus, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. All three covered painful and personal territory in an unflinching, unsentimental way. They’re brilliant.
3 things you cant live without?
My passport, Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga, and my dog, Violet. Actually, it’s really just Violet I can’t live without. She’s basically my daughter. Friends tell me that when you have a real kid, your dogs become dogs and your cats become cats, but I don’t believe them.