Wonkette Goiing to the 'Dogs' (or maybe to the NYT)

Apparently there are rules to abide by when speaking to Wonkette, aka Ana Marie Cox, who recently came out with her work of political fiction, Dog Days.

Because of her busy book tour and schedule, Cox was only able to do the interview via e-mail and through her tightly wound publicist Craig Burke at Riverhead Books. Two questions Wonkette blatantly refused to answer involved Jessica Cutler, the former aide to Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) who helped Wonkette’s career blossom with the revelation of the staffer’s sex-laden Web log two summers ago. The questions revolved around whether Wonkette feels she owes her fame to Cutler and her reaction to Cutler’s piece in Capitol File in which she insinuates that Wonkette had romantic interests that strayed from her marriage.

Patrick G. Ryan
Ann-Marie Cox

In an e-mail, publicist Burke wrote, “I told Ana to skip them [the Jessica Cutler questions] because much of the publicity for Dog Days has focused on the whole Washingtonienne affair, which I think diverts too much attention from the book itself. Riverhead is invested in Ana’s career as a writer, so we clearly think there are more important things to talk about.”

Q: How long has the basic story of Dog Days been on your mind?
A: The core plot started to percolate in April of 2004 during Jessica Cutler’s tour of duty as a “Newinsky,” when a small group of tinfoil-hat enthusiasts were convinced that I had orchestrated the entire fiasco. I was flattered and humbled by their faith in my PR skills — and inspired to think about why one might engineer a fake sex blog. Once I got more of a taste of Washington campaign culture, other aspects of the story fell into place.

Q: What did you want to be when you were little?
A: Bigger.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I think I have finished my growth spurt, but another couple of inches would probably make me look thinner.

Q: It has been rumored that you are going to work for The New York Times in some capacity. Is there any truth to that, either in the paper or the website?
A:I’ll get right back to you on that.

Q: [Several minutes and no reply later …] How about telling me about the NYT?
A: I just don’t think I can comment on that, sorry.

Q: Have you always been so snarky?
A:Only since I stopped beating my wife.
Now that’s a comeback!)

Q: Some reviewers of your book have some awfully harsh things to say about your book — how do you feel about that, and does it hurt your feelings?
A:What feelings?

Q: I would like a serious answer to the question.
A: I don’t think I would describe my reaction to bad reviews as “hurt feelings.” That seems like the reaction one has to being called names or having to sit at the “bad” tables at the Palm.

To the extent that a negative review has substantive criticisms, the reaction is much deeper than having “feelings” hurt. I take thoughtful arguments and sincere objections seriously and search in myself and my work for what truth there is to them. That said, many of the negative reviews are so blatantly agenda-driven — they’re attacks on me, the blogosphere, “chick lit” or Washington, not book reviews — it’s hard to take them to heart.

I am the novel’s own worst critic, trust me, and there hasn’t been a review yet that is as hard on my own writing as I can be.

One more thing: If you think I take negative reviews badly, ask my husband: I’m even worse about the positive ones.

Q: What percentage (an estimated guess, of course) of your book is based on reality? Which character do you identify with most?
A: 12.765 percent. I identify the most with the character that is based on me, but she doesn’t appear in the book very much.

Q: If your book gets turned into a movie, which actress would you like to play the lead? Who do you think should play Heather (aka Capitolette?)
A: I’ve been avoiding answering this genre of question for fear I may jinx the project. You can feel free to speculate wildly, however.

(How about Courtney Love, that anorexic chick, Lindsay Lohan, or Drew Barrymore pre-rehab …)

Q: Do you really think the bulk of Washington men are a bunch of losers?
A: Only the bulkier ones.

Q: Were you popular in high school?
A: No.

Q: Did you go to prom?
A:Yes. Sophomore year was most memorable for the sea-green poufy monstrosity that I managed to find growing on the ugly dress tree at J.C. Penney. Junior year, I went with my then-boyfriend, Brendan, driving my father’s 1969 Oldsmobile convertible. Senior year, I went on a double date with friends and wore the only dress that would not hurt my eyes to look at today: a black velvet strapless cocktail dress that my grandmother made copying a picture of Audrey Hepburn (1990, the year I discovered taste).

I would provide more detail beyond costuming, but I honestly don’t remember much else. Somewhere there are pictures from the senior-year event — the four of us sitting on swing sets at the elementary school, drinking wine coolers and mugging for the camera. It looks like we were having fun, and I believe we did.

Q: How did you meet your husband?
A: As with most of these stories, there’s a considerable amount of adorable detail, but I’ll spare you that. Short version: I wrote a piece for him when he was an op-ed editor at Long Island Newsday. We discovered a shared passion for bad movies, and I desperately needed healthcare — it was a perfect match.

Q: Being a former farm girl, do you really find Washington that interesting?
A: I do enjoy the raking of manure.

Q: Would you ever, like your main character Melanie, have an epiphany and sudden disgust with everything Washington and move back to Lincoln?
A: Melanie has a few more motivations beyond “disgust” — she has no job or boyfriend, she’s suffered total humiliation and is broke. I have been fortunate enough to dodge those fates (at least all at once).

Q: Which politician is the easiest target and why?
A: Mocking Bush is pretty much the humor equivalent of the broad side of the barn. He provides the largest target, many mistakes and a perfect grasp of the obvious.

Q: What’s the nastiest piece of hate mail or e-mail that you’ve ever received in relation to your blog?
A: I’m sorry to say that I block the memory of most of those. After a while, it’s just a blur of [expletives] anyway.

Q: Do people recognize you when you go to the grocery store?
A: If they do, they’re keeping it to themselves.

Q: Do you still consider yourself a liberal?
A: Yes, despite their numerous efforts to dislodge me.