Introducing Andi Teran: writer, performer, artist, mother. Andi has not only an extraordinary way with words, but an ability to seamlessly juggle her life and work that's beyond envious, with a winning collection of books to boot. She's recently released her debut fiction novel, Ana of California, a modernization of Anne of Green Gables; published by Penguin, which lucky for us readers pulls her talents beyond her usual writing for major publications, notably: Vanity Fair, MTV, New York, and Monocle. Also recently published is Andi's rescue cat Alfie, who is the cover page of Japan's Mill Mag.
GAL: What was the name of the first book you fell in love with, that turned you into a life long reader?
AT: I’d say it’s a three-way tie between Judy Blume’s Are You There God It’s Me Margaret?, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I love stories about orphans or awkward youths going through major life changes.
GAL: What is the power of story? Describe some ways in which fictional narratives have impacted you and your life.
AT: Fictional narratives are the reason why I’m a writer. I fell in love with books from an early age and grew up with parents who were both book collectors. Books were a part of our daily life. As an only child, stories entertained me most when I was lonely, and I often felt comforted by characters that would end up feeling like friends. To this day, I don’t think anything compares with getting lost within the pages of a book. To me, the best books—the ones you clutch to your chest once you’ve turned the last page—are both life-affirming and life-changing. They stay with you forever. I’ve always had a desire to write because I’ve always had a passion for reading. Being a writer feels natural to me.
GAL: How often do you read?
AT: I read every day—which is becoming increasingly difficult with a newborn baby—but I currently average a couple hours a week. Pre-baby it was more like 7-10 hours a week.
GAL: Do you have a current – or “forever” – favorite book?
AT: My “forever” favorite books (I can’t pick one) tend to be about strong female characters—Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre are top of the list.
GAL: Who is your favorite author? (If impossible to choose please name two).
AT: It’s impossible for me to name one favorite author but two of my all-time favorites are Haruki Murakami for his bizarre surrealist magic and Joan Didion for her elegant truth.
GAL: Do you prefer non-fiction to fiction? If so, why?
AT: Both! Great stories—real or imagined—transcend genres.
GAL: If you read non-fiction, what genre do you prefer?
AT: I love memoirs. Patti Smith’s Just Kids is one of my all-time favorites, and I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon.
GAL: How do you choose the books you read?
AT: I have a massive list that I’m always going back to, but most of the books I end up reading are recommendations. I’m also in a fantastic book group full of lively, outspoken women with a passion for great literature. We’re currently reading Miranda July’s The First Bad Man.
GAL: We have a friend who has a “Sanity Shelf” dedicated to books she returns to again and again, to reread for pleasure, knowledge, and solace. What books would be on your Sanity Shelf?
AT: On Writing by Stephen King (aka the best book about writing)
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren
Dangerous Angels, the Weetzie Bat book series by Francesca Lia Block
Haiku Harvest, a vintage Japanese haiku poetry book my husband gave to me,
Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Bohemian Modern by Barbara Bestor
GAL: Do you have a current favorite reading spot? Where is it?
AT: I love to read on the couch in my writing studio. It’s a small, intimate room—an enclosed balcony—with a wall of windows, natural light, and my favorite books and objects occupying the rest of the space. I could stay in there all day.
GAL: Or – can you read anywhere – place is not important?
AT: I used to love reading on the subway when I lived in New York City. I also love reading on airplanes.
GAL: Is it important for you to physically hold a book you read? Or can you read on a device with no problem and no impact on the experience?
AT: Yes, I prefer to hold an actual book. I have no problem reading news and articles on a device, but there’s something about immersing myself into words printed on paper that seems to work better for my brain. I enjoy the scent of old books too.
GAL: If you were to write your memoir, what would you title it?
AT: I’m Not Finished Yet
GAL: Please name three books you recommend reading, and the reasons for your choices.
AT: Vapor by Amanda Filipacchi is the one book I recommend the most. It’s a weird and wonderful love story between a lazy actress and a mysterious scientist that takes place in a mansion full of clouds. I have gigantic love for this book.
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson is an incredible book that reads like a movie in your head. It centers around a strong female character that chases trends, Internet mysteries, and the truth behind her father’s disappearance on September 11th. It’s such a fun read.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is my most recent favorite book. An epic pseudo-orphan tale told in modern day New York City, it has one of the best opening chapters of any book I’ve ever read. I still get chills when I think about it. I don’t want to give too much away, but don’t be daunted by its density—it pays off in the end. Donna Tartt is a masterful storyteller.