With the release of her highly anticipated online novel Time-Traveling Vampires of Love just a few days away, I held little hope of getting a second interview with Ima Knowitall when I called her private number this morning. As I mentioned in my first interview, she is the author of more than 40 online novels this past year, and has received multiple awards, including the coveted Prolific Speller Award, the Hemmingway Award for “longest run-on sentence of 2012 and 2013” (same sentence) and, most recently, was honored by the Society of Illiterate Columnists (SIC) for her contributions to “…the advancement of people who write without the shackles of proper grammar.”
Despite knowing I had almost no chance of landing a second interview with an author of Knowitall’s caliber on the eve of her latest release, the fact that she had given me her private number meant I had to at least try. During our initial interview a month ago at a nondescript Del Taco location, she explained that her secret phone number is part of an elaborate system of security measures to protect her from hoards of overzealous paparazzi and fans. Nervously, I called the number and was ready when a man who identified himself as “Shizzle” answered from what sounded like the inside of a phone booth.
Carefully following the security code instructions I had been given, I replied, “Looking for Ima, B**ch!” then hung up and waited five minutes before calling again.
This time, Ima answered. “Who is this?”
“Do I owe you money?”
“No,” I answered, engaging in what I had been warned would be an elaborate filtration system all for the sake of personal security. According to Ima, it was the same security service utilized by Hollywood superstars like “Polly Shore and the guy who did the voice for Alf,” she had explained. In that moment, the high cost of fame was never more evident.
“Wait… you’re that guy from Del Taco, right?” she said, which must have been the code for “all clear” because, within moments, we had arranged to meet for a breakfast interview. After toying with the idea of chatting together over a lush seafood buffet at her favorite and highly exclusive Beverly Hills eatery, where she revealed the kitchen prepares a special shrimp and pepper jack scone just for her, for the sake of anonymity she suggested we again meet at another low-profile Culver City restaurant, Sam N’ Ella’s.
“If you pass the Department of Health building, you’ve gone too far,” she instructed, then told me her fleet of vehicles had become too recognizable, and would therefore be arriving in a private bus disguised as public transportation.
“I sometimes let celebrity friends ride with me, but only if they go incognito,” she said before hanging up. “So don’t be surprised if it’s full. I have a lot of friends. See you at approximately 9:03.” [click]
As I drove to meet her, I couldn’t help but wonder: Would I be willing to pay the same price for celebrity?
Fortunately, being a humor columnist, it’s a question I’ll never have to answer.
Fortunately, I arrived at Sam N’ Ella’s just in time to witness a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with “Sam” tearing away yellow tape and some type of “welcome back” sticker from the Health Department across the front door. Before long, I was seated at the back of the restaurant and watching as Ima arrived by bus [wink-wink] across the street. As predicted, it was full of celebrity friends dressed like everyday people! Though I can’t be sure, I’m pretty sure I saw Tom Cruz dressed as that fat guy from “Tropic Thunder.”
Peeling off her coat, Ima suggested we order fast because “This place is so chic sometimes it closes super fast, and you don’t get your food until the next day.”
Again, I was reminded of how much I don’t know about living in the world of celebrity.
Me: After so many books, is it still nerve racking in the final days before a new release?
Ima: (Yelling in the direction of the kitchen) I’ll have a taco omelette! (turning back to me) Did my assistant get ahold of you about the reimbursement for this?
Me: No, I’m still waiting to hear from her about the Del Taco tab.
Ima: What was your question?
Me: Do you still…
Ima: Oh yeah, yeah. The book. No, I don’t get nervous about anything. Wait, you’re paying for this, right?
Me: Tell me about your inspiration for Time-Traveling Vampires of Love. Was it an idea you’d been working for a while or something completely new?
Ima: The name was actually changed yesterday to Fifty Shades of Time-Traveling Love Vampires, and yes, it’s something completely new.
Me: Are there any authors who influence your writing?
Ima: None that I can think of. (Glancing toward the kitchen) What’s taking so long on that omelette?
Me: What can you tell us about Vampires of Love?
Ima: Boy meets whiny teenage girl. Girl realizes she likes things a little rough. Boy turns out to be time-traveling vampire. It’s not rocket science.
Me: How do you come up with the names for your characters? Do you name them after family, people you know or names that evoke a mood or feeling?
Ima: Her name is Ella and his Edwardo. They just came to me.
Me: Edwardo? This sounds familiar for some reason.
Ima: I don’t see how; he’s a Mexican vampire.
Sam: Everybody OUT! That A$$hole from the health department is coming!
Me: I suppose that means our interview is over?
Ima: Not if the Del Taco on Imperial Avenue re-opened again…
(Next week: Part II of my exclusive interview with Ima Knowitall)