Post-Hype: An Interview with Christian Lander, Creator of Stuff White People Like

An interview series premised on a simple idea: it's much better to talk to people after the hype cycle has buzzed on.

I first interviewed Christian Lander when few knew his name: the L.A. Times was breaking the "who's behind the blog-sensation 'Stuff White People Like'" story the same day as me. But it was an interesting vantage point at the cusp of a media explosion; a few weeks and a million blogs later Christian would have a huge book deal, and be subsequently cut-off from further media exposure. The book would be rushed to print, and despite throngs of critics predicting a quick crash-and-burn, would go on to list as one of the smartest publishing "gambles" of the year. All of that, from blog-to-bestseller, happened in less than a year ('08).

Now in 2009, I thought I'd check in and see if Christian's postpartum depressed or riding high or just trucking along or what. So here we go:

The Assimilated Negro (TAN): So you've posted, like, a handful of times in the new year. Quite a contrast to your torrid pace to start the blog. What are we thinking: burn out? too busy? end of the SWPL road? f the small internet people? something else?

Christian Lander (CL): Part of it is definitely a burn out. I try to make sure that the posts and the topics are still accurate and funny, I have no interest in updating just for the sake of updating. I also just finished the Page-a-Day Calendar which is actually a lot more work than it sounds like and leads to an enormous burnout on talking about white people.

TAN: So I see the tour ended a month or two ago: Much success? How many stops did you make? Good consistent turnout?

CL: There were actually three tours- Summer 2008, Fall 2008, Winter 2009. I've lost track of how many cities were there, but I feel like I hit almost every big city in America except for New York (who knows why). Every stop had an amazing turnout and it stayed consistent the whole way through.

TAN: There was some backlash at the time of the deal, but I do feel SWPL has sustained as a go-to reference for white liberal types. Thoughts on your bid for permanent relevance?

CL: It would be great if it sticks, but I never in a million years expected it to become as popular as it has. So if it completely fades away, that's just fine with me.

TAN: any networking with your offshoots (stuff blacks/asians like ... etc.) any word on if any of those blogs turned to books?

CL: I have nothing to do with the off-shoots, Stuff Midwesterners Like was published and Stuff Christian's Like is also going into publication soon.

TAN: What's been a bigger deal for you: getting the money or developing the platform?

CL: It's been absolutely amazing to have developed the platform. I still can't get over the popularity and it's been so much fun. Not to sound too pretentious but it's been a lifelong dream to have a book on the New York Times Best Seller list, to have achieved that is just incredible and it still blows my mind.

TAN: Are you earning out your deal? Is that a concern? You hear stories about books being successes but the size of the deal becoming an albatross.

CL: The book is doing very well.

TAN: What's one thing you have learned from the experience, that you could not have anticipated?

CL: Hard to say, I don't think I had any expectations going into this so I'm not sure what has been a surprise. I think I just never anticipated how big it eventually became and it's still strange how often I meet someone and when they find out that I wrote the blog/book, they are impressed. That's still pretty weird.

TAN: Other projects, future plans etc?

CL: The book has been optioned by Imagine Entertainment to become a TV show and I'm working on that along with a few other TV projects that I'm really hoping will pan out. But immediately next is a talk show this summer with Microsoft and Crispin, Porter Bogusky. It's going to be on-line, so it won't be the biggest thing in the world, but it's going to be a lot of fun.

Thanks, Christian.

Stuff White People Like still available at an Amazon near you.