Actress Parker Posey tells about her childhood and her path to becoming an indie film star in You’re on an Airplane (Blue Rider, July 24).
Your memoir is framed as a conversation between you and a fellow passenger on a plane. How did you arrive at that concept?
Did you ever see those illustrated coloring books at airports intended to help people chill out? I thought, ‘oh, that’s cool’… though I never saw an adult on an airplane coloring. But it seemed like a great idea for that in-between place when you’re not on call, you’re not on demand. On a plane you’re just in this space where you’re wondering ‘What is this next chapter going to be?’ It’s such a space of reinvention. You sit next to a stranger and tell stories to someone you’ll never see again.
What kind of person is the best flight companion?
I enjoy older people who’ve had experiences, like an elderly gentleman I once met who was in the cattle business. He told me he was visiting his lady-friend in Minnesota, and that nothing “untoward” had ever happened between them, but he loved her.
Why a plane ride rather than a train?
Because dogs aren’t allowed on a train. My dog Gracie is a big part of the book—there’s so much of Gracie in there, and dog love. But I did like Murder on the Orient Express.
Why did you pose with a turban on the cover?
I’ve always liked turbans; they make me think of Gloria Swanson. They’re also archaic—you see genies wearing them, and Sufis. It’s just “very actor” of me to wear a prop on my head to feel protected, to feel that I can play a part or be creative. Like Halloween: Why do we want to dress up? The book is very much about the desire to express. It’s a book of monologues that show what the art of acting is like.
Is writing similar to acting?
With acting, you write underneath the lines that you’re given, and you kind of write the lines around them but you don’t make a decision on those words. Writing may be harder because it’s so solitary. But if you dedicate yourself to the creative process of writing, there’s a kind of net that starts to grow and collect barnacles that you can crack open. Getting into the momentum of writing is like catching a wave. But I was so naïve. I thought, First chapter’s done, yay! and then three days later I get the edits, and, Oh no. I have to write more, I have to go into this corner and dig.