President Obama’s stenographer, Beck Dorey-Stein, is someone you’re going to want to remember. Her debut book From the Corner of the Oval is one of two books to be borne out of a seven figure two book deal and Universal Pictures have agreed to transform her life into a motion picture.
This is a post-Obama White House memoir like no other that, via Dorey-Stein’s masterfully crafted 2011-2017 journals, divulges all the delicious details about the parties, the sex, the trips on Air Force One, and the relationships between the White House “non-essentials”. This isn’t just “Bridget Jones goes to the White House”, it’s also a blissful distraction from the ass hole who currently has his tiny hands at the helm of America.
I had the privilege of interviewing her for the July edition of the Unity Books newsletter and she really is one astounding American.
1. What does a day in the life of Beck Dorey-Stein look like?
I’ve been living at my parents’ house for the past year, so a day in the life looks a lot like a 15-year-old’s day in the life only less math homework and more alcohol. But I’m moving into my own place in Philadelphia soon, which means I will subsist on cereal, lament still not having a dog, and spend a ton of time crying with my cats about how much we all miss living at home.
2. What was it like for you exposing your heart-pumping, heart-breaking, steamy, often tumultuous encounters with Sam and Jason to the world?
When you put it like that, I think we should call this whole book off! But when I was drafting those scenes, it all came tumbling out because there’s no point in writing unless you’re writing honestly — especially when it’s nonfiction!
3. You’ve laid bare a lot of truths in your book that many may have chosen to censor in fear of overexposure and subsequent judgment. What was the one story that you contemplated not putting in the book and why?
There’s a certain bathroom scene in Miami that my mom thought was “too much” for a couple of reasons. I was torn because my mom is a good barometer (barmometer?) but ultimately I decided to keep the scene because the vulnerability was important. That said, I would probably benefit from a greater fear of overexposure and judgment.
4. What is the ultimate highlight to come out of your stenographer days?
Personally, I made friends for life and got to work for President Obama — what greater highlight is that? Professionally, Penguin Random House gave me a two-book deal as a way to say they not only believed in this story, but also in me as a career storyteller, which made me cry tears of joy when I found out.
5. You’re an inexperienced, nervous, over-packer to begin with and you’re a confident, strong and self-assured woman by the end. What did you learn about yourself over the Obama years and what are you most proud of?
I learned from the female role models in the book that we are never finished learning and growing and evolving. Sure, I’ve come a long way since my first day at the White House, but I have a long way to go! The cool life secret I learned from Pathahad is that the process isn’t something to rush through, and messing up doesn’t have to be a mistake so much as an opportunity — especially once you figure out a way to laugh at your foibles!
I am most proud of getting this book out into the world. It would have been much easier to not share this stuff with anyone, but underneath the fear, I really wanted to. For years I said, “Okay, maybe tomorrow I’ll do something with all this writing.” It’s easy for those tomorrows to accumulate — we stay so busy trying to make rent, pay utilities on time, show up for our friends, and remember to grab milk on the way home from work. Devoting the time and intention to this project while battling my own demons that it’s not good enough — that I’m not good enough — was a victory in its own right.
6. How will you / have you celebrated the publication of From the Corner of the Oval?
These days, writing gets to take up as much of my day as I’d like. After years of trying to find time to write in the narrow margins of a demanding job, it is so, so unbelievable cool and just unreal that I can devote full days to getting better. So in that way, every day is a celebration of this publication.
And as much as I love a good party, I’m pretty superstitious, so I have been trying to hold off on any classic celebrating. You know how at a wedding you’re not supposed to drink champagne until after the ceremony? July 10th is the day this book and I become official, so I’ll keep you posted on the plans for merrymaking!
7. When are you coming to New Zealand?
I love New Zealand! I’ve only been to South Island but my friend/Obama videographer Hope Hall had a great trip to Auckland last Fall, so maybe we’ll come back together!