In March 2009, we interviewed and videoed James Frey sourcing all our questions from twitter and this website. Below are the three videos of James’ answers and also a general Q&A.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Soundtrack to a documentary called American Hardcore. Some Bob Dylan. Some AC/DC.
Do you like living in New York?
Most of the time. New York is an amazing city, certainly the cultural center of America, and maybe the world. There is great art, great food, great music, great people. Only things I dislike about it are the winters and certain aspects of living there as a public figure.
How do you feel about the drinking and drug culture there?
I don’t really think about it. People drink and do drugs everywhere. I don’t judge people for doing either, and I neither seek out people who drink and do drugs, nor avoid them.
How did you vote in the last election?
I voted for the guy who lost.
What are you reading at the moment?
Just read the final Harry Potter. Before that, Clockers by Richard Price. Before that, Freedomland by Richard Price. Before that Falling Man by Don DeLillo.
If you could do one thing in your life differently what would it be?
I’m fine with my life. Wouldn’t change a fucking thing.
What are you most proud of?
My wife and my daughter.
Do you consider yourself to be happy?
Yeah, I am. I have a great family, great friends, I love what I do.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner.
How do you feel about your work being described as inspirational?
My goal was to create literature. If the work inspires people or helps them in some way, I think it’s a beautiful thing.
Do you prefer writing books to screenplays?
Absolutely. I just wrote a film for director Tony Scott about the Hell’s Angels. It is most likely the last screenplay I will ever write. The only reason I even did it was because it was him, and I dig his work, and because I got to hang out with the Hell’s Angels. Tony was great, but usually the process is too collaborative, in a destructive, unproductive way. With books, I do what I want, how I want, and they either succeed or fail because of what I do.
What has been your worst job so far?
Worst is a relative term. Being a writer has been incredible, and at times very difficult, very trying.
How do you feel about being famous?
Fame is also a relative term. I’m really happy that I’m widely read, published in thirty-one languages, millions of books sold. The goal has always been to write books that have enough power to continue to be read long after I’m gone, to become part of history in some way. I could care less about fame in the manner of celebrity.
You made your position of AA and twelve step programmes very clear in A Million Little Pieces, do you still feel this way?
AA and the twelve steps do an immense amount of good in the world. I think they’re great. As far as applying them to my own life, or living by their tenants, I absolutely still feel the same way.
Do you think some are more susceptible to addiction than others?
Yeah, though why that is is a subject of debate. There is certainly some genetic component, but I believe there are also environmental factors.
What do you spend your money on?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What do you think about the way addiction is portrayed in literature?
Sometimes really well, sometimes really bad, sometimes really silly. All depends on who is doing it.
Which contemporary writers do you admire?
Many, but Norman Mailer and Brett Easton Ellis are probably the two I most admire.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Probably Henry Miller, or Lao Tsu.
How do you feel about your child reading your books?
When she’s old enough, and if she has any interest in reading them, I’m all for it.