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Known and celebrated for his sharp sense of wit (the New York Times called him “one of our pre-eminent humorists”), Paul Rudnick is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, novelist, columnist, and essayist whose extensive body of work includes Jeffrey, In and Out, Gorgeous, and I’ll Take It, and contributions to the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker. When Mr. Rudnick is not hard at work on his next literary masterpiece, he can sometimes be found ruminating about the many culinary delights available at IHOP.
Who is Paul Rudnick when he is at home?
He can most often be found on the couch, writing, tweeting and snacking, like any decent American.
Tell us about your new book, Playing the Palace.
Playing the Palace is an all-out romantic comedy, about the unexpected and delirious relationship between Carter Ogden, a lonely New York event planner, and Prince Edgar, the Crown Prince of England. After everything the world has been going through, I wanted to write something comic and joyful, a celebration of love between two unlikely but passionate guys. I also wanted to explore the challenges and adventure of love in the spotlight, as every move the pair makes is analyzed and judged online and everywhere else. Ultimately, I wanted to see what would happen when Carter brings Prince Edgar as his plus-one to a wedding in suburban New Jersey.
What three words best describe the literary flavor of your writing?
I’m aiming for funny, heartfelt, and surprising.
What do you know now about publishing that you wish you had known when you were first starting out as a writer?
When I was first starting out, I was constantly told that publishing was dead and that no one reads anymore. This has been repeated many times over the years, but happily it’s never been true. Writing is a precarious profession, and publishing is an equally crazy pursuit, but both fields attract many wonderful people who love what they do, and thanks to technology, books (in various forms) have never been so available, to an ardent readership.
What is your own favorite rom-com novel and rom-com movie?
I’m not sure if Breakfast at Tiffany’s can be considered a rom-com, but it’s a glorious book by Truman Capote, and a fabulous Audrey Hepburn movie. I’m also partial to the great screwball romances of the thirties, like His Gal Friday and Bringing Up Baby, and more recent movies like Roman Holiday, Notting Hill, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
This advice has appeared in various forms but it boils down to “Get over yourself.” Writers spend a great deal of time alone, which tempts anxiety, self-pity and delusions of grandeur and despair. As my Mom would say, “Go outside and get some fresh air.” Take a walk, and remember that there are terrific, fascinating people and places everywhere.
If you could be any member of royalty for a day, whom would you choose and why that person?
I’d probably opt for becoming King or Queen of England or any decently functional country, so I could lie on the couch in a palace and bestow knighthoods and try on the crown jewels. But only for a day, because being a monarch is an awful lot of responsibility, with so much regal waving and behaving oneself in public (which doesn’t always happen in Playing the Palace, with deliciously comic results.
What role have libraries played in your life?
My first job, at age 12, was shelving books in my local public library in New Jersey. Sometimes I’d wheel my cart into the stacks and read, and the librarians were wonderfully understanding. Two of my beloved aunts were librarians in the New York City school system, so I learned early in life that librarians were heroes, and that libraries are the most blissful destinations.
What is next for you as a writer?
I’m working on several book and movie projects, which I’m too superstitious about to describe just yet. I’m collaborating on the book of the Broadway musical version of The Devil Wears Prada (which will have a Chicago try-out next summer), and I have a new play, called Guilty Pleasure, which will premiere at the LaJolla Playhouse in California, also next year.
How can readers learn more about you and your writing?
They can visit my website at paulrudnick.com, and I tweet @paulrudnickNY.
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