I'm Bret Easton Ellis. Author and Screenwriter. AMA.
Hi Reddit. This is my first AMA. And I'll be here to answer your questions from 15:00-16:00 EDT--FIRE AWAY.
AMERICAN PSYCHO is being reimagined as a brand new musical, premiering at the Almeida Theatre in London this December.
The producers of the musical have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project:
Ask me anything.
Verification photo: http://imgur.com/BHvd5hH
Verification link: https://twitter.com/BretEastonEllis/status/334368893755854849
UPDATE: The AMA is now finished. Thanks for all of your questions.
You HAD to write a 10,000 word dissertation?!? Thank you. Very flattered. The Sean Bateman gay tweet was, hmm, just a tweet. And I thought it was an interesting idea. Disappear Here has for some reason appeared in all the novels: and. I. don't. know. why. I had no idea Patrick Bateman would be in American Psycho when he first appeared near the end of The Rules of Attraction.
I read in a german magazine you once were so drunk (or stoned) you confused texting and tweeting and asked for drugs on Twitter. Is that a true story?
Anyway, thank you for doing this AMA, I much enjoyed your books.
Yeah. That's a true story. I still left the drunken tweet on my Twitter feed, hoping one day it becomes a catch phrase.
How did you write such disgusting scenes in American Psycho. How did they even get in you? Where did you find such inspiration? Especially for the rat, that was EXTREMELY FUCKED UP.
Also, huge fan here. American Psycho is my favorite book of yours.
I waited to write those scenes until the book was finished. Since I didn't really know how to approach them. I did a little bit of research with some kind of FBI textbook that went into super-gruesome detail about serial killers. Then just being in PBs brain for three years--it all came together. Very upsetting scenes to write.
Will this Reddit "AMA" ever make it into Bret Easton Ellis: Collected Letters and Interviews, rendering the entire book into another one of your works of metafiction because you replied to this question?
I hope to God it does. With every fiber in my being: I hope to God it does.
A lot of people were deeply shocked by the comments you made about David Foster Wallace, even after he had tragically committed suicide, particularly when you said he was "the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of my generation".
What happened to create this feud ? Were you surprised at the backlash your comments received ?
There wasn't a feud. David and I had never met. But I never responded to his work. Simple as that. I was reading the new bio and it was pissing me off--the kid gloves approach. And that I thought he had a literary fraudulence about him that manifested itself in his fiction. You could say the same about me. I was not surprised by the backlash to those tweets. There are a lot of little snowflakes who somehow really respond to this faux-earnestness of DFW that I just don't think is realistic.
What did you think of American Psycho 2?
It was a breathtaking masterpiece.
Could you explain the ending to American psycho to me like I'm a 5 year old?
Not really, babe.
Bone and Silian Rail, Egg Shell with Romalian Type or Raised Lettering, Pale Nimbus white?
Silian Rail, of course. My favorite.
Mr. Ellis – thank you for everything you’ve done for the first amendment. You are good for America.
1) How did you come up with the magical line from Glamorama “The better you look, the more you see?” What type of research did you do for the shower scene?
2) Do you enjoy Dexter? Who would win in a murder off – Dex or Patrick Bateman?
3) Supposedly in NYC you had the season’s greatest Christmas party every year. Did you and what made them so epic?
4) Edward St. Aubyn, David Mitchell or Alan Hollinghurst?
- I don't remember. I think it was combining a couple of ads I saw in the '90s. And then it became a mantra for Victor Ward. The research for the shower scene was an accumulation of many shower scenes or variations thereof.
- You know what? I never really got Dexter. I know a lot of people involved with the show. And I don't want to diss it. But it seemed too high-concept and jokey for me. I think Dexter would probably quite easily do away with PB. :(
- Christmas parties were packed. Anyone could come. I always liked the party scene in the film Breakfast At Tiffany's: that's the vibe I wanted.
- I have read and admired all three authors. I think they have all written excellent novels. P r o p s
Music has always played a large role, in many of your works. The playlists that exist for each book - were these assembled after the fact, or do the songs in your books reflect what you were listening to while writing them?
Those playlists absolutely reflected what I was listening to at the time I was writing those books.
Do you think kids today are just as cynical and fucked up as they were in your "Less Than Zero" days?
No. Just different. And with The Great Gatsby out now: well, as Gertrude Stein said "You are all a lost generation." It just keeps happening and happening--the eras are different, the casts are different but there's always a generational cynicism and a fucked-up-ness.
Hey there, been waiting all day, and impressed you came early! I'm a huge fan of American Psycho, and was wondering how you chose what Patrick Bateman's rants were going to be about, and how you researched them. Did you pick music artists/clothing styles that you personally like, or that you think Patrick would like? Or both? Thanks for doing this!
Well, in a lot of ways Patrick's rants are about wanting to fit into a society that he doesn't believe in. That's where I was, too. At the time. So a lot of the rants came from my frustration as well. Not a lot of research into that. I didn't like any of the music Patrick liked but it was popular at the time and it seemed to reflect a certain kind of mass-taste that PB wanted to be a part of. As for clothes: yeah, I wore a suit like a lotta guys did in that period but not nearly as fashion-conscious as PB.
Have you ever read any of professor Walter Benn Michaels' analyses of your work in books like The Shape of the Signifier? He's a heavyweight academic intellectual at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and he considers American Psycho to be the best novel of the past 30 years.
I have read Walter Been Michaels and he's brilliant.
so, after reading the rules of attraction - just how wild was your life at college?
Wild in a way that was both depressing and fun. The Rules of Attraction is actually a pretty accurate template for what went on.
Why do you think people obsess over your sexual preferences so much?
Do they? I didn't know. I think it's at this stage in the game: boring. Doesn't mean anything. It never has. It never will.
Okay, I have three things:
(1) When are we going to get to see Glitterati and/or a Glamorama movie? If you can't answer, can you text Roger Avery and get back to me?
(2) Given you're so prolific on twitter, when's your next book formatted entirely as Twitter posts going to come out?
(3) What's Kip Pardue's dick taste like?
In all seriousness, if I hadn't read Less Than Zero my junior year of high school I probably wouldn't have wasted four years getting a literature degree in college. So, thanks, genuinely.
- Probably never.
- Well, I guess you could look at my Twitter account as the new novel. Many do.
- Like, um, ice-cream. Vanilla ice-cream.
Hello Bret Easton Ellis, I would like to know if you saw Enter The Void and/or Kynodontas (Dogtooth in english) and what you thought about it/these ?
I'm a huge Gaspar Noe fan and Enter The Void blew me away. Gaspar was going to direct a script of mine called The Golden Suicides. I also liked Dogtooth a lot.
Why are you always so cranky?
Because I'm alive. Not always cranky. But the absurdity of the world either makes me cranky or laugh.
If you could recommend 3 books to a 21 year old, what would they be?
The books I liked best at 21 are very different from my top three books now. I was going to answer this but realized I can't.
Has there ever been a critique you've taken to heart that had some impact on your work?
In your experience, what restaurant has been the most difficult to get a reservation to?
If a restaurant is "too difficult" to get into: why the fuck bother? I don't have an answer to that because if I couldn't get in somewhere I just moved on. Unlike, of course, PB.
Given the kind of reaction the Canyons elicited from the press, would you go back and change your mind about casting Lindsay Lohan? Would you cast her in something in the future, say, as Alison Poole in Glamorama (god forbid)?
No. Lindsay is good in The Canyons. She gives her first full-fledged adult performance. It's going to surprise a lot of people especially after all of the bad press. Yes, I would cast her again depending on the role. Despite all of her troubles: she's a good actress.
How much weed do you smoke? does it help with the writing?
I don't smoke weed. But edibles: sometimes. The 26 year-old smokes weed. Today: the condo smells like Grapefruit Kush.
You said how you were familiar with Deen's work through a number of porn sites, which porn site is your favorite?
I actually don't have a favorite porn site. There are a number I follow--I liked looking at James Deen's porn before I became a friend of his (now it's a little, um, too weird.) Usually pretty vanilla sites. But the porn watching has ebbed a bit...
Huge fan, love your books. Just a couple of quick questions for you.
Who would you like to see play the role of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho the Musical?
What would the music for the show be like?
These questions aren't thought provoking but as a huge fan of the novel and your other works, it'd mean a lot to hear back.
Thanks for doing this AMA!
Miles Fisher. I like him a lot. The music for the show has already been written by Duncan Sheik and I've only heard lo-fi demos.
You've claimed that you found the literary scene in NYC being too clique-y and claustrophobic, which made you want to leave. How has living in L.A. affected your writing? (Full disclosure: this is coming from an NYC writer who is heading to L.A. to escape this very claustrophobia.)
And a bigger, related question: what are your thoughts on L.A.'s current place in art and culture vs. NY's place?
I wanted to leave because someone close to me died and their ghost was everywhere...
There is no comparison between LA vs NY. Different. Dunno.
Do you have an interest or hobby that might surprise your fan base?
No. Playing Angry Birds on my iPad when I'm depressed.
GLAAD disinvited me to the awards. The agent bringing me was told she couldn't. So I don't know: is GLAAD bullshitting? Either way: it's done.
Favorite author? Besides yourself, of course.
I know you're a big Mad Men fan... have you been watching this season? If so, are you digging it thus far?
I'm waiting until the season is complete and then spend a weekend watching the entire season. That's the only way I can watch Mad Men. It's the only way I've ever watched Mad Men.
1) Hey Bret, is it just me or does Great Gatsby look like a total letdown?
2) What kind of music are you listening to these days?
Big fan of your work and was honored to meet you at a book signing for Lunar Park a few years back.
I'm seeing it tonight. Yeah, it kind of does. But as I tweeted this morning: every generation gets The Great Gatsby movie it deserves.
I'm listening to Rodriguez this week.
How is the current novel going, and is it a sequel to American Psycho?
Not a sequel to American Psycho.
Honestly: the last month or so it has gone kind of slowly. Distracted by other things that are going on. Thinking it through, making notes, deciding which way to go.
I know you didn't have the best of experiences making the film version of The Informers and you were disappointed with the final product.
I was wondering whether the process was more enjoyable making The Canyons and are you pleased with how the film has turned out, did Schrader do your script justice ?
It was much more enjoyable making The Canyons because we had a lot of control, and there was only one producer. Very key. Despite the bad press so far the movie turned out really well. It's available in August.
How do you deal with obtrusive political correctness?
I just confront it by pretending it doesn't exist.
Say your female characters were real, and you were that way inclined, who would you fuck?
Actually I like most of my female characters--a helluva lot more than I like my male characters. I find them much more sympathetic and likable. But would I want to even think about fucking a literary character, especially one that I've created. Um. Not that drunk yet.
What's going on with Roger Avary's Glamorama film adaptation?
I've read the super-expensive version and I've read the lo-fi version. Unless someone wants to shell out and do it as a long form series on Netflix then the future of Glamorama as a movie is in doubt.
First off Mr Ellis, huge fan, Glamorama is my favourite book ever written. Now that that’s out of the way, my actual question; You talk a lot about your father being a huge influence on American Psycho, particularly Patrick Bateman. Was there any real world influence of Victor Ward in Glamorama. And if so, can I ask who?
Glamorama is my favorite of mine. So: thanks. Victor Ward was a kind of mutated fantasy version of me. Just much much better-looking. Victor was a symbol of where I was at that time in my life.
What do you miss the most about the 80s?
Well, I guess on a surface level a kind of analog/Empire way of life. But, really, the '80s didn't thrill me. So: not a lot, guys.
Just two songs. But I'm a big fan (especially of Contra) even if I have publicly said they are the white-ist band I have ever heard in my entire life.
I wanted to thank you for writing books, because I like reading them. That's all I have to say regarding that, I guess.
In a literature course I took, we covered (briefly) Less Than Zero. I had read the book beforehand, but how do you feel about the discussion and analysis of your work in academia?
Have you seen The Canyons yet personally? What do you think of it?
Did you write the script for the musical? I have to say, as a theater geek type of guy, I really find the idea of American Psycho being performed onstage amusing.
Will there be an Imperial Bedrooms movie?
The discussion and analysis of my work? I think it's great. That's really how I feel. I HAVE seen The Canyons many times and even though it may not be The Godfather--it was an experiment in micro-budget filmmaking that really paid off. It's actually a good movie. I did NOT write the script for American Psycho the musical. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa did. There will NOT be an Imperial Bedrooms movie.
Hey Bret. Big fan.
Tell me, what do you consider to be your biggest vice? I don't mean to imply anything scandalous or illegal, though you can answer in that fashion if you so please.
Thanks for doing this.
I don't do drugs anymore so that vice is long gone even though, yes, I accidentally tweeted for coke last December. But really? No vices. Very boring when it comes down to vices lately.
Bret: how do you think Less Than Zero (and all of your consequent - and brilliant - works) would fare if you were releasing them in the current day? Do you believe the publishing industry is dying, and if so, what do you see as the future for writing and writers?
I don't know if Less Than Zero would have actually been written today. The circumstances, our attention spans, the technology is very different. I think publishing is going through a transitional phase. And I think something else is going to replace the "traditional" ways publishers published books. The internet is where writers are going to be publishing.
Hi Bret, after working with Paul Schrader are there any other directors that you're hoping to work with? Also what's happening with The Golden Suicides?
The Golden Suicides: well, we're looking for a director. I really enjoyed working with Paul Schrader but I don't know if he'd be right for that.
hey Bret, big fan.
quick question: what's the next great American novel going to be about, and who do you think will write it?
I don't know if there's going to be one.
This isn't really a question, but I completely agree with your comments you made about Kathyrn Bigelow.
Hey there Mr. Bret Easton Ellis,
I just completed my undergraduate degree in English Literature. I had to write a 10,000 word dissertation and I chose to write it on your first four novels. You’re a remarkable writer. I felt I had to probe deep beneath the surface of your work to truly get to the bottom of it. If you’re so inclined you can read it, I’ve included the link after the questions.
Why do you feel it necessary to explain the ambiguities in your novels? For example, you stated in a tweet that Sean Bateman is gay. In The Rules of Attraction, we’re not sure who’s lying, Bateman or Denton. Their stories conflict. Your revealing of Sean’s homosexuality seems to imply the sex between the two probably happened. Why not leave the questions there for the readers to mull over?
In Section 5 of the Fourth chapter of Glamorama, the words ‘Disappear here’ appear before Victor Ward. Is there any meaning behind this? Or are you just playing the ol’ post-modern trick of sticking a bit of authorial self-awareness in there (in this case referencing Less Than Zero)?
Patrick Bateman appears in The Rules of Attraction. When you wrote his monologue did you already have an idea of the kind of character he’d be in American Psycho?
These are real specific questions but I hope you appreciate I just gave over 6 months of my life to reading your books religiously and picking each word and sentence apart with a fine-toothed comb. It was worth it though. You’re a talented man.
Here’s my dissertation:
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