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LAist Interview: Mark Z. Danielewski

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Over hot chocolate and chocolate-chip rugula at Canter’s in Hollywood, we spoke with LA author Mark Z. Danielewski about his latest novel Only Revolutions and got all worked up about film, freedom and fonts. He will be reading tonight @ UCLA, 5 p.m. RSVP here or call (310) 206-0961 to reserve a seat.

You were recently quoted as saying if you could live anywhere in the world, it would be Los Angeles. You’ve traveled extensively and lived in a number of great places…so what made you choose LA? I love LA. I love being able to go to a completely different type of restaurant every night, going to the beach, swimming, farmer’s markets, MOCA. There are so many things to do here – and there’s something great to being in a city that doesn’t house my industry, so I’m not pestered by those mechanics. Occasionally, I think, “Why don’t I just move to Chile for a few years?” And I still might. But I love it here. I have great friends here.

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You swim on a regular basis – what’s your favorite stroke? I love butterfly. I love it. It’s exhausting, but there’s something about butterfly that is magical. If you get the rhythm right, the force of the stroke itself hurls you through the water and you have this sense of rising out of the water. So it’s ego and submission and ego and submission. It’s awesome. There’s also an ability to abstract it. With freestyle, you can’t do more than freestyle. But with butterfly, you can imagine that if I had slightly longer legs and a big fin, I’d be flying out of the water. If I could go even faster, I’d be a fucking killer whale.


You’ve written a pop song and performed on-stage during your sister Poe’s national music tour…any plans to do the rock star thing again in the near future? She also produced an album that was inspired by your first novel House of Leaves – any chance that will happen for Only Revolutions? What I’m tackling right now requires so much energy and effort and time. It’s impossible to do it all. As much as the imagination desires to write songs and create movies and to do all of it, to write one book well and if you’re going to do anything typographical with it, is so much more difficult. The publishing industry is not setup for the typographical stuff – you have to do it all yourself.

Last night she was playing some songs that are somewhat Only Revolutions-influenced. So it’s the same process as House of Leaves. I don’t know if she’s going to put out an album that is overly about Only Revolutions, but it is inevitable that we influence each other.

The House of Leaves thing was so organic. I would listen to stuff and think, “This is so cool.” Or she would read stuff and get inspired. I think we’ll eventually collaborate again.