Have you ever frequented Craigslist? Craigslist is a worldwide network of communities that includes anything from discussion forums, to personals to free online classified advertisements. It has millions of stories — from a friend who furnished her new apartment for less than $500, to scary accounts of scams, cons and shysters.
Kim Masson is a NYC writer who met her husband on Craigslist and ended up writing a book of “byte” sized tales and stories about Craigslist.
I caught up with Kim Masson to chat about her new book.
Melanie Rockett: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Kim Masson: I’m born and bred New Yorker, who lives in a crumbly old artist loft on the Brooklyn waterfront. As a kid growing up in NYC’s bad old days of the 1980’s, I used hang out on my fire escape and scribble up pretty tales involving unicorns and rainbows while the police sirens wailed in the background.
But the writing bug didn’t take hold until my teens, after I watched Jane Pauley do an investigative exposé on Dateline. I thought she was such a bad ass! The way she broke down her story and the guts it took to call out these powerful companies on their corruption—she instantly became my role model. I got accepted into the journalism program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and began my writing journey.
After some turns off the writer’s path, I fell back into my journalism roots after witnessing a slew environmental injustices being ignored in my rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Putting my writing skills to good use, I became a vocal critic and landed a job as the News Editor for a popular Brooklyn-based blog. Just like Jane Pauley, I got to call out shady politicos and corrupt real estate developers that were bulldozing their way on to one the most expensive and toxic strips of land in the United States.
What they don’t teach you in school is that reporting the news day in and day out is a real grind. After two years, it took its toll. So I stepped off the beat and turned my attention back to my true love—fiction writing. Now I’m happy to say I have a novel for sale!
Melanie Rockett: I will admit to being firmly HOOKED when I read that you met your husband via Craigslist. Please DO tell us the story.
Kim Masson: After September 11th, life was tough in NYC. Downtown was in ruins, people were scared, and I just lost my job. Craigslist had just come to town and I started my employment search there. I got a job as real estate agent, trying desperately to rent apartments in a town where everyone was fleeing. As you can imagine, it was a total disaster! I thought there had to be a better gig out there. I spotted an ad on Craigslist for an artist’s assistant and went for it. The day I stepped into that Brooklyn loft and met this curly-haired Spanish painter, a thunder bolt hit me. As corny as it sounds, I knew we were fated to be together. Six months later, I had moved in and was on a flight to Spain to meet his family. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
Melanie Rockett: From a Craigslist follower and user to writing a book. What inspired you to compile stories and write a novel?
Kim Masson: Meeting my husband on Craigslist is only part of the story. The real idea for the novel came several years earlier when I placed a fake “Missed Connections” ad on Craigslist. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. After I treated my insomnia with a box of cookies, I hit up Craigslist and wrote up this insane ship-crossing story. It involved a guy with a mullet in a zebra mesh tank-top and a gal in a wheelchair wearing golden ballet slippers. He was reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; her A Love in the Time of Cholera. Their eyes met. She blushed. He tripped over her wheel while exiting the F train in Brooklyn. She placed the ad in hopes of seeing him again.
I went to bed that night thinking no one was going to believe such an over-the-top story. To my surprise, the next morning there were over 30 emails in my inbox from people claiming to have seen my fictitious character on the subway. A month later and the letters were still pouring in. It was bananas! But it wasn’t until I met my husband through the site years later, that I knew I had put these stories on the page. Some of my encounters were so weird and profound; I couldn’t keep them all to myself!
Melanie Rockett: All the reporters I know are very business like and methodical about working on their stories. NO time for angst or writer’s block. Did you find the process of writing a book different than your usual work? Did you set daily goals such as stories or word counts or did you let yourself write when inspired?
Kim Masson: There is definitely no time to wait for the muse when covering the news. It’s all about strapping yourself in and getting to work. Reporting is like sprinting because you know the ending, but books are different beasts. They’re more like a marathon and require a ton of stamina to push through.
More important than word counts, I think writers need to sit down get their fingers typing. Some days are tough and it feels like you’re spinning wheels, going nowhere fast. Then the clouds break and the magic starts happening. All of a sudden there is a road ahead and you know the direction. But none of this happens unless you get into the chair and start writing.
Melanie Rockett: What’s next? There has to be a million stories revolving around Craigslist … from brilliant to awful. Will you do a followup book (or 2 or 3)? Or do you have other writing plans that you will now be working on?
Kim Masson: There are definitely more Craigslist stories cooking on the back burner. Whether they take place in New York or in some other city I haven’t decided yet. In the meantime, I’m using the summer to polish up an earlier novel I wrote called Made in Italy. It was written right after I got married in Rome seven years ago. I love drawing inspiration from my personal experiences and I can’t think of better way to escape the New York frame of mind than by dipping a toe back into Rome’s dolce vita fountains for a few months. Stay tuned for more details!
Find out more about what’s happening in Kim Masson’s world . . .
Sign up to Kim’s newsletter on her website KimMassonWrites where you can get upcoming news on books, readings and other events.
Be sure to follow Kim on Twitter @kimasson
And don’t forget to get Kim’s novel