“What’s Your Number” author Karyn Bosnak in the house!+comment
You may have heard of Karyn Bosnak. Back in June 2002, when blogging was in its infancy, Karyn started the blog savekaryn.com, which not only chronicled how she’d gotten $20,000 in debt but also asked complete strangers to help her pay it off. This kind of internet moxie gets hits, and boy did it. In just 5 months, her site had gotten 2 million hits and she’d paid off her debt. This led to her first book, “Save Karyn: One Shopaholic’s Journey to Debt and Back.” Now Karyn is back, but this time in fiction. She wrote “20 Times a Lady” which has been adapted to the screen as What’s Your Number opening this weekend starring Ana Faris and Chris Evans. (I’m very excited about this movie. Everytime she says “I went full Borat” in the commercials, I giggle.)
I had the chance to talk to Karyn about the process of writing her first novel, publishing, and getting her book to the big screen.
1. Can you give us the background of your first book “Save Karyn” – how it went from blog to your first book?
I started an anonymous blog as a funny, light-hearted look at debt. This was before blogging was big, before Perez Hilton, before Huffinton Post and all that. And things started to blow up on the message boards. People were giving me money and some people would send a dollar or two, and it started to add up. I got a call from a radio station for an interview, then the “Today Show” called for an interview and that’s when it really got crazy. But the responses were split pretty evenly negative and positive. I never positioned it as serious but a lot of people were upset – that I wasn’t needy enough – whereas I always maintained a sense of humor about the whole thing.
2. How did the book deal come about for your first book?
As for the book “Save Karyn”, I had a friend who was a literary agent. They gave me a sample book proposal which I used to write my book proposal and then we took lots of meetings with publishers, eventually landing with Harper Collins. Then I was faced with the hard part – actually writing the book! So I just sat down and went over the events that led to my debt and tried to be as honest as I could – and also ask how I got there. It was my first book, and even now I cringe when I read some of it, asking myself ‘where was the editor!’ But many of my fans love the first book and find it very honest and refreshing.
Yes, definitely. It was much more difficult. When “Save Karyn” was optioned by Escape Artists – Steve Tisch, Jason Blumenthal, and Todd Black flew me to LA and basically taught me how to write a script. It was screenplay bootcamp. I worked mostly with Jason Blumenthal and his wife Chrissy Blumenthal, who was head of development there at that time. With the finished script, Hilary Duff was attached to play me but the project ultimately died in development. It happens more often than not… things just lose steam. The bootcamp helped immensely when writing the “20 Times a Lady” book. It changed the way I plotted things and even changed my voice. I wrote “Save Karyn” in past tense, but “20 Times” in present tense, which engages the reader in a different way. It brings them right into the action, makes them feel like they’re a part of the story as it’s unfolding. Then I was reading an article in the New York Post about a global sex survey that said the average American woman slept with 10.5 partners. I thought that number seemed low. It sounded low for lots of women I know. It made me think about my own number, and making the list in my head. I started to make a list of the guys I’d been with, and I thought about how some have just become a nickname.
4. Yes! I think all women nickname some ex’s. Megan refers to an ex as Cocaine Boy. He’ll always be cocaine boy – I no longer remember his actual name, the nickname eclipsed his actual name.
Exactly. I had “Dan, Dan, the Earring Man” because I left my earrings in his dorm room. Another was “The Two Mikes”… my friend and I were each dating a guy named Mike for like a month or something. Both were in college. I also had “The Guy Who Smelled Like Macaroni.” I can’t explain it… he just smelled like noodles. And ultimately, I had to break it off with him because of it….Noodles! All the time!
I started to think that I didn’t remember some last names so if I wanted to track down these guys, how would I do it? This was before facebook, there was MySpace, but it was before people outside of college were on facebook, so how would I legitimately track them down? I thought of calling one of the fraternities and asking for alumni information, and it just went from there. I thought it would be a funny story and started writing it.
5. How did “20 Times a Lady” become a movie. What was that process?
It was still in manuscript form, just a word document and my UK publisher sent the manuscript to a friend at Fox Studios. They sent it to someone else and before it was published, people wanted to make the movie. The problem was most studios wanted to make a PG movie about 20 guys she’d dated, not 20 guys she’d slept with – which was the whole point. Finally I met Beau Flynn, the producer on the film who wanted to keep the edge. He insisted on keeping it R. I met Beau Flynn before the book was published, but it was already written. I think it was February of 2006… the book was scheduled to come out in June 2006. Then the film started at New Line, then went to Sony when Anna Faris was attached (the end of 2008), and then to New Regency at the beginning of 2010.
6. Were you a part of the creative process on the film? What was your input with the script? How involved were you and how was that experience?
I wrote the first draft of the screenplay but it was a difficult process. Her list of 20 guys had to make sense, and there was a lot of finessing “where would they be now.” I felt beat up on the journey, but I was torn with having this great opportunity. I went to the producers and was given more time and turned in a full script in 2007. By that time, New Line was in the process of being absorbed into Warner Brothers and they let go of the production executives who were working on the project, so it sat there for a while with no movement. Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Allan were hired in 2008 to do a rewrite, and it was at that time that the producers decided to try and move the project to another studio because nothing was happening. That’s when they approached Anna Faris and attached her, and she was the one who helped take it to Sony.
7. Do you think the success of Bridesmaids has helped the studio embrace What’s Your Number?
The script was done in 2008 and we filmed in 2010, so I think it’s just good timing. The studio was waiting for Captain America to come out.
8. How did you feel about the casting?
Once Anna Faris signed on, I knew it was in good hands. And the whole cast is amazing. I was so excited that Andy Samberg is playing the puppeteer – who is totally based on a friend who dated a creepy puppeteer. And Joel McHale as her boss just took the character to a whole new level. All the cameos are with great guys.
9. What’s your advice to aspiring female bloggers and writers?
Write what you know. It’s important to build an audience because publishing is trickier now. But stop and look at your life and write about what you want to talk about, not what you think someone wants to read. But blogging is a great exercise in writing. It helped my writing improve.
10. Do you think the blogs-to-book market is still thriving or overly saturated?
I think it’s a great way for editors to discover new talent and expose them to a whole new market. They can hear a voice and it’s a great way to get noticed.
11. While here at The Zeros Before the One we firmly belive some numbers should never be asked (or answered) such as age, weight and number of sexual partners, I’m curious to know – how many times in interviews have people asked your number?
I have been asked my number more times than I can count. Pretty much in every interview since 2006. It used to make me self-conscious, and I was in a place where I felt weird about it. But I’m out of that place now.
12. What’s next for you? Any new projects?
I’m working on a book right now called “Crazy Bitch.” It’s a light-hearted look at mental illness.
I love it. Thank you Karyn.
Dating, relationships and finally mental stability, I have a new crush on Karyn Bosnak. What’s Your Number? comes out today, September 30th and you can always pick up either of Karyn’s books, you can follow her blog or follow her on twitter. Either way, we’re a big fan. Any woman who can turn around debt and take a funny look down the ex-sex lane is good in my book.