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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

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In Kids & Family

Actress Ione Skye published her first book earlier this month. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Actress Ione Skye pens kids' book


In 1989, Ione Skye starred in the classic coming-of-age film, "Say Anything," and co-actor John Cusack delivered the now-cult-famous line, "I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen." About 25 years later, Skye penned a childrens' book, "My Yiddish Vacation."

The 32-page book documents her childhood experiences with her Jewish grandparents. The story follows Ruth and Sammy – based on herself and her brother – as they learn all of the fun words from their grandparent's Yiddish language.

"My Yiddish Vacation" was published by Henry Holt & Co. and is available locally at Boswell Book Co., 2559 N. Downer Ave.

Skye is the daughter of folk singer Donovan and model Enid Karl. She debuted in the film "River's Edge" and then became a teen sensation as Diane Court in "Say Anything." She later married Adam Horovitz from the Beastie Boys, but the couple divorced, and today she is married to Australian musician Ben Lee. She has two daughters.

OnMilwaukee.com recently chatted with Skye about her new book, her new acting roles, her life as the wife of a Beastie Boy and, of course, "Say Anything."

OnMilwaukee.com: Is this the first book you've written?

Ione Skye: It was the first book I've published, but I had written a couple of children's books when I was younger. Writing, drawing and dancing were my first creative interests. But because I became focused on acting, writing and publishing a book became a fantasy of mine.

OMC: The book is about the time you spent with your grandparents. Presumably you have good childhood memories of them?

IS: I do. They were very influential characters in my life. I grew up mostly with my mother and brother and they were in the picture a lot. I spent a lot of time with them. They had great big, wonderful "New York Jew" personalities. When I was younger, I really loved spending time with them and older generations in general. One of my first poems I wrote as a kid was called "Old People."

OMC: Are your grandparents still alive?

IS: No, they've been gone for a while now but they are very much in my consciousness because of the book, and also because I have a lot of photos and stories.

OMC: What were their names?

IS: Ben and Tilie, short for Matilda.

OMC: You have two daughters, right?

IS: Yes, they are 12 and 4.

OMC: Did they inspire the book?

IS: In some ways, yes, but I wrote other children's books over the years. But since I have been in my 40s I follow through with things better. My husband is very good at following through with things and he's been a great example. He encouraged me to reach out to a literary agent and he helped make it all happen. I've realized there are invisible doors in life that we think are stopping us from doing so many things, but we just have to try and we can walk through them.

OMC: You originally did the drawings yourself but later the publisher hired another illustrator. Were you OK with that? Also, his drawing of "you" in the book is a blond-haired little girl. Was this how you envisioned the girl character to look?

IS: I am more of an oil painter and the publisher wanted to hire an established kids' illustrator. I understood that. I said I just didn't want the heads to be too big on the kids even though I know that "anime gone crazy" is a commercially popular style right now.

I trusted the illustrator, Scott Mention, and I became very fond of his work.

OMC: Do you plan to write another book?

IS: I already have. I like the characters of Sammy and Ruth so much that I wrote a second book about them going to Spain. My publisher says we'll see how the first one goes.

OMC: There is a lot more editing that goes into writing a kids' book than most people think, right?

IS: There are so many details and logistics that need to be considered and tweaked. There was a lot of back and forth. For example, in the book Sammy and Ruth are eating eggs on an airplane and I was reminded that people don't really eat plates of eggs on airplanes anymore. I was asked if, perhaps, I wanted them to be instead eating a box of food for a more updated look. We decided to stick with the eggs but I had to consider that in doing so it gave the illustration more of a "retro" feel.

OMC: What were some of your favorite kids' books growing up?

IS: I loved all of the classics: Maurice Sendak, "Goodnight Moon." I loved a book called "The Magic World" by E. Nesbitt that's a collection of fairy tales that are really quite funny.

OMC: Are you still acting these days?

IS: I am. I worked in "Day Out Of Days," a Zoe Cassavetes film, and on the other end of the spectrum, I have a role in the MTV show, "Awkward." I play, coincidentally, an author.

I kept thinking, over the years, that my career was petering out. But it hasn't.

OMC: Do people still bring up your role as Diane Court (in "Say Anything")?

IS: They do. But it's not often enough that it's a drag. It's just enough to make me feel grateful that people really liked that film so much. It means a lot to me, too.

OMC: Have you kept in touch with John Cusak?

IS: He and I connect on Twitter and we will occasionally have lunch. It's been a while now. I would love to get together and have lunch again with him soon, though. We had really great chemistry in the movie and in life. I think that's why the movie was so successful. And he's just really fun to hang out with.

OMC: Why didn't you make more mainstream films after "Say Anything?"

IS: I was very ambitious as a teenager, but as a young adult my ambition went up and down. I also got married at a very young age. My husband (Adam Horowitz) was in the Beastie Boys and it was really fun to be in that scene, touring. It captured my attention for years.

You have to keep it going when you're on a roll and I stopped that. But I never quit acting. I thought my career was going to be really pumped up and then I thought it was going away entirely and it has not done either. It kept going. I was in "Arrested Development" and a movie called "Zodiac" and some people remember those, too.

OMC: Are you going on a book tour?

IS: I am doing some readings and signings in California and am going out to New York in the summer. It's great the book is at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com, but I would like to see it in more small book shops, too. I would love to go on a tour of independent book shops across the country.


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