From an (fictional) interview of Lacey Kay Banks conducted by Michael Rockefeller on NPR in 2008.
“In The Waiting Line” plays.
Michael: So I hear you’ve had a tour of the studio from various staff members over the last year.
Lacey: Working at Caribou Coffee down the hallway in the skyway I’ve had quite a few customers over the years from MPR. And a few of them have either become friends or I’ve at least had a few decent conversations about current events over coffee.
Michael: That’s right. Michael clears his throat here. So, you’re writing a novel about the 1920’s. It’s 2008, 2020 is over ten years into the future. Why write about the 1920’s at this juncture in history?
Lacey: Well, my father was figure of the 1920’s. He supposedly inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, The Great Gatsby. Except, my father grew-up wealthy in Iowa and had a vastly different love life than the hero of one of our greatest American novels.
After returning to Minnesota from college I fell in love with almost all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works. And after living here in Saint Paul for over three years now it’s become a bit of an obsession. I even took a visit to his birthplace and read the plaque and posted a photo to Facebook just to prove to all my college friends that Minnesota isn’t just a bunch of lakes and farms. Not that lakes and farms aren’t lovely.
Anyway, I felt moved to write my own novel inspired by Saint Paul through reading his genius.
Michael: Mmm. That’s what inspired me too when I was young to pursue my own passions. My father was Nelson Rockefeller and we collected art. I spent a lot of years researching and writing about the Asmats after traveling to their area once in 1957 and then again years later to collect more art. I don’t suppose you’ve heard of their culture? Fascinating culture.
Lacey: I may have read about them in college. I majored in Art History but my minor was in writing, which is why I feel confident writing a novel I’d ever publicly encourage people to read. Lacey laughs here. But, I actually think I have seen a few of their sculptures. Not in person though, unfortunately.
Michael: Yes. Well, those travels are some of my greatest memories from being around your age.
We didn’t live there though.
Lacey: Your travel companions and you?
Michael: Yes. I didn’t travel with a girlfriend.
They both laugh.
Lacey: Traveling with a significant other can be fantastic or horrific. It wound require an enormous amount of trust to travel that deeply into unknown lands with a significant other.
Michael: You have experience?
Lacey: I do. I traveled to Switzerland to go skiing with a boyfriend once in college and it was awful. We didn’t get into any major fights or anything but I started to see all of the flaws in our relationship. Every day it got weirder to be there together and by the last day I wanted to cry thinking about how much had been lost considering what a beautiful country we could have explored together had we been happy.
Michael: I love you. You’re so candid. And speaking of love, I take it your book is about Zelda and Scott’s rotten Romance?
Lacey: Lacey laughs. I try to be candid. Actually, I’m in good company though in being shocking at times. Scott and Zelda were both shocking at times to the point of genuine exhaustion. Both mental and physical.
Michael: One and the same.
Lacey: Exactly. Zelda and Scott and mental and physical?
Michael: I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Lacey: Thank you. I wonder if you could have though.
Michael: I try to write every now and then but I’m not an author. Or an authoress. Which do you prefer to be called?
Lacey: Author or authoress? Lacey laughs. I love how you ask that. It’s far more subversive to call yourself an authoress than an author when you’re a woman. I’d love to be called an authoress. Well, at least in 2008 it’s more subversive and it is 2008. I’m tired of needing to be called an author to be taken seriously.
Michael: Would you ever consider going into politics? It’s an election year.
Lacey: Lacey pauses. That was…quite the shift. Michael laughs loudly. You know, no. I loved watching political debates as a child. And I’ve always found politics fascinating, my father did too, but…growing-up near lots of 1920’s and 30’s architecture near one of the lakes here in the cities – our house was built in the 1920’s – I developed a deep affection for aesthetics. At first it was about feeling connected to my father since he died when I was very little but had lived in our house for decades and was very much a pillar of our community…but then I realized that there had been generations of other teenagers like me who had grown-up in my neighborhood before I had even been born. It was like going from seeing the world as just my family to seeing our own unique place in our world just around our house. And I felt connected to millions of people.
Michael: Would you have ever wanted to be a political wife?
Lacey: Lacey pauses. That’s not something I’ve ever considered too much. Let’s see, your mother was a politician’s wife wasn’t she?
Michael: Michael laughs. Yes. She spent quite a few years in that role. I’m not sure she’d recommend it.
Lacey: Well, that must have been quite the experience being the wife of Nelson Rockefeller.
Michael: I’m sure it was.
Lacey: I wonder what sort of book F. Scott Fitzgerald would have written about your mother and father.
Michael: I’m going to have to continue this conversation off the air. I dearly want to hear what sort of book you think Scott Fitzgerald would have written about my parents.
Lacey: Too bad he’s not here so we could ask him.
Michael: Well, Lacey thank you for coming on Fresh Air. It was fun filling in today. Perks of being a Rockefeller.
Lacey: I bet you’d still be an art collector without being a Rockefeller, per se. And I’d like to think I’d still be an authoress.
Michael: You should write a novel.
Lacey: I did.
Michael: I like to collect feet in my mouth too, I guess.
Lacey bursts out laughing.
Michael: Well, thank you again.
Lacey: My pleasure.
Michael: My pleasure, actually. We’ll have to get coffee next.
Lacey: There’s a novel to discuss.
Michael: Absolutely. Thank you again, authoress.
Lacey: My pleasure.