Irene Zutell started her career as a newspaper reporter, writing on police and city hall news. After becoming bored with that work, she became a travel writer, touring continents and countries including some of her favorites: Paris, St. Petersburg, Dubrovnik, Prague, Florence, and Rome. After years of writing and traveling, Zutell moved to Los Angeles and started a career as a reporter for People magazine, writing human interest articles and following celebrity lives.
Irene Zutell has three books published: They’re Not Your Friends, I’ll Never Have Sex With You Again!, and Pieces of Happily Ever After. Her writing has also been featured in Us Weekly, The New York Times, The NY Daily News, and Newsday. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Q: Why did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
A: I couldn’t think of anything else I was competent at!
Q: Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
A: Usually, there’s a bit of real life mixed in with the fiction. I’m from New York, but I find a lot of my inspiration in my new hometown-Los Angeles. There’s so much to write about here. I really is crazy here. For instance, we live on a cul de sac in the valley, and right on the hill above us is a house that was used in porn movies. So, we’d be sitting outside listening to moaning. It was very surreal.
Q: I just started reading Pieces of Happily Ever After. Where did the idea for that story come from?
A: This woman–Vera Moder–who lived a few blocks from us was dumped by her husband for another woman–Julia Roberts. She was all over the tabloids. Her husband, Danny, eventually married Julia . I wanted Vera to do a nonfiction book with me. But when she wouldn’t, I decided to fictionalize it. Imagine going through a break-up and having it very public? And imagine having to read about your partner’s romance in the tabloids? I thouht it was a great jumping off point for a novel about a lot of other stuff–mothers and daughters, aging, love, romance, etc.
Q: Is there a typical day for you?
A: I wish I had a typical day. I wish I could say I get up at 5 a.m. and write until noon. But I don’t. I write when I can. I write when my kids are at school, or at night, or right now as they play outside. I usually don’t move until I have to because I know that at any moment, someone’s going to cry or fight or be hungry.
Q: What is your favorite part about writing?
When it just flows and I’m in that zone where I’m totally lost in the story.
Q: You have been a correspondent for PEOPLE and US Weekly. What did you take away from those experiences?
A: When I first started working for People, I thought it would be a joke–just something easy to do for a whle. Was I wrong. It was the hardest job. Being a reporter for People, I learned to pay attention to detail and to think fast. I learned that you really can never have enough details for a story and you’ve got to constantly be coming up with creative ways to draw a subject out.
Q: What were some of the favorite stories you worked on?
A: Even though I covered mostly the celebrity beat, my favorite stories were always the human interest type–like the girl who awakened from a coma after months and months, or the veternarian who spent weekends on Seattle’s Skid Row taking care of the homeless’ pets.
Q: If you hadn’t been a writer, what do you think would be your career?
A: I have no idea.
Q: Are you currently working on any future novels?
Sure. I have some things in the works, but right now I’m ghostwriting a book.
Q: What would be your advice to aspiring writers?
Never give up. Listen to the voice in your head instead of what other tell you.
Q: What is or do you think would be your favorite place to travel?
I used to be a travel writer, so I love traveling. Anywhere. I love European cities like Paris, St. Petersburg, Dubrovnik, Prague, Florence, Rome. But I also loved a trip I took a while back throughout Alaska. I went to Tahiti on my honeymoon, which was just incredible. And I love road trips through northern California.