Q&A with Lanie Brewster Quinn


Current City: Chicago, IL

What Did You Want to be When You Grew Up? At one point I wanted to be a writer (and attempted my first “coming of age” novel when I was in the 4th grade — it had a lot a stuff about boys, boobs/bras, and periods). I also wanted to be a lawyer, mostly because I really enjoyed presenting my cases before my parents. I would prepare my evidence and arguments for why they should let me do whatever it was I thought they wouldn’t let me do and present my case. More often than not, I won!)

What Are You Now? Unemployed. ;) I guess I am a writer and a young adult cancer advocate.

How did you get to this point? I guess if we skip ahead to recent history for the sake of time, probably due to getting diagnosed with stage IV cancer myself. For some reason, I’ve since felt like I had permission to pursue writing (and not just professional writing, but writing for myself) and a new passion for people in my age group diagnosed with cancer.

Are you paid doing what you love?  Nope, not getting paid (see above). I guess I wouldn’t mind getting paid for writing or for a job in advocacy. I’m lucky enough to be able to work without getting paid and that has given me the luxury of doing things that matter to me in a way that I, at this moment, find fulfilling. And I can hold out until I find the right place or position. I am very aware that this is a privilege.

What are your current projects?  Writing: I currently write blog posts about YA cancer issues (also posting at StupidCancer, another YA Advocacy group), I am working on a (hopefully) humorous and (if I’m lucky) poignant book about my own cancer experience (because we all need another cancer memoir, right :/ ) I am also pushing myself to write short fiction and will hopefully one day get better at it. Young Adult advocacy: I am currently the co-president of an advisory board made up of survivors with the mission to educate and advocate for YAs with cancer. We work with health care professionals and partner with other advocacy groups to create or disseminate resources and hold events unique to the YA population.

What are you reading/watching/listening to? I’m between books and haven’t decided what to read next. My last book was George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. Maybe American Gods since I never read it and the new show is really good so far. I gave in, got HBO and started watching Game of Thrones. My go-to shows right now are: iZombie, Supernatural, Hap & Leonard, Brooklyn 99, Riverdale and all British crime procedural shows I can find (Midsommer Murders, Death in Paradise, Scott & Bailey and now Father Brown). If there was a job for solving TV show crimes, I’d be your girl. I have an ever-growing list of podcasts I want to listen to, but I’ve been watching too many British crime procedurals to get to them (I need a road trip!). Not creating much outside of writing, which will probably always be the case. I sometimes dabble in other creative outlets, but I’m usually terrible at them and too lazy to get good.

What is your favorite creative outlet? Writing! And maybe ridiculous videos with my husband.

Have you ever written a fan letter? I have never written a fan letter, which now I think is kind of sad. When someone creates something that resonates with you or brings you joy or that you simply like or appreciate, we should let them know. I once hung a Joey Macintyre poster on my wall. It creeped me out, though, and I tore it down. Teen idol posters weren’t for me. I do, basically, stalk George Saunders, though.

Drink of choice? Bourbon neat. I’m sure when I order it, people look at me like I’m trying to be the “cool girl” trope. But super sweet cocktails started making me sick more from the sugar that the booze. I like Belgian beers, but I get so burpy and bloated that I stop enjoying myself. I do like any of the “mule” drinks (Moscow, Kentucky, Gin) and a good Pimms Cup. Oh, and wine. Red and dry. Of course, wine.

What or Who Inspires you? I find myself lucky to have so many creative and artistic people in my life that pursue what they love to do — from various fine art mediums to music to filmography to coding to writing — I could go on. I am continually impressed and inspired by the people in my life and the things that they create and bring into this world. I know I’m not naming a single person. And I’m sure I could think of powerful, world changing women or great writers or scientists or inventors in history and today. But when I read the question, I just kept seeing the faces of my brave and talented friends.

What is a helpful tool to get you in the work zone? The best thing I did for myself with regard to productivity was to set up my desk for actual daily use. I had been using it mostly for storage and framed pictures. There was no room to really sit down and even write on a piece of paper. But I cleared it off (and out), set it up as a workspace, and pulled the curtain back on the window (which looks down onto an eclectic backyard of what I think is an artist commune). It’s a place I like to be and all the things that might distract me are behind me as I face out the window. Before I did this, I would sit on my couch in my living room, ever tempted to turn on the TV (or do laundry or dishes or …) and get achy from leaning over to the coffee table, or from slouching on the couch with my laptop on my lap. The desk is better. I also keep a To Do file folder, which acts as my To Do list with notes on everything. That helps me knock items off my list (and remember them in the first place).

What is something you have learned this year? I’m totally hung up on this one. Maybe I’m not exploring the world enough. Or maybe I just can’t remember because my brain gets fuzzy. All I can think of are recent, sort of personal revelations like realizing I had to ask my husband to stop asking me what I did that day (even though it’s a perfectly normal question and he asked it in a “how was your day; I love you so I want to know what your day was like” kind of way). I realized it was causing me a lot of anxiety. So, I guess I learned to communicate my needs — even if they seem odd.

What can people do to make the world a better place? Support the Arts, National Parks, Science and Medical research (and such). Be kind and compassionate to those around you (and listen!). Love and let love. Create, create, create.

Where can people find you? They can find my blog at https://medium.com/@laniebrewsterquinn and they can find me on social media:

  • Facebook (Lanie Brewster Quinn)
  • Instagram (@lbrewster)
  • Twitter (@laniebrewster)


{{Do you know a mover and shaker, a do-er and maker? Message me! I’d love to interview them!}}


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