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The Misrepresented education of Ms. Stef Willen(Nearly a memoirist for Simon and Schuster)

she should be holding a booking number but having it canceled - not having any authors photo will have to do.

In publishing, there is a fascinating history of memoirs, that get pulled from publication after an eagle-eyed reader, or readers, have their hinky meter go off.

The pesky peruser finds the facts, or spots the substantial inconsistencies - that ultimately prove that the orphaned foster child (who wrote all about the angst of growing up in a gang infested barrio in east L.A)  actually spent his upscale youth as a prep school kid from Newport Beach. 

Then there was that Jordanian on the run(after witnessing her best friend's honor killing) who was actually an American con artist from Illinois.

And so on. Some names of famous fabulists: Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair(who I once met, oddly enough) James Frey, JT Leroy, and Janet Cook.

I now know of a memoir faker, that you won't hear about, cause I'm pretty sure I was the pesky eyed peruser -- who made the book deal  go kaput before publication.

Stef Willen's manuscript ( IRONICALLY titled- Total Loss: An Inventory of Disaster, Theirs and Mine,) was set to go before being pulled seconds before publication. It had an ISBN number, an editor's description, and an official publishers page on Simon and Schuster's website.

Disclaimer: I knew Stef Willen. I know she is a pathological liar, a sociopathic schmuck, and a narcissistic numbskull. So, when I heard she'd sealed a book deal, that was for nonfiction, I thought this will be a doozy, but I didn't expect her to leave such a treasure trail of evidence, up on the internet, for all to discover. I'd say she is one lazy liar.

The evidence was up for ten years actually (from early 2008 till today and no one at Atria(Simon and Schuster imprint) seemed to discover the deceptions, but I did. I had the motivation. Ample amounts of motivation can be found here:

The reason I was so intent on outing her is a long and grueling saga, so here's a quick summary as to why I'd suspect Willen of dishonesty issues and why I'd wish upon her ill. You see, she tried to ruin my life with lies. 

First, she smeared my name to anyone that would listen. But that wasn't enough. She wanted to destroy me completely so she proceeded to lie to the police. Then she'd lie under oath in a kangaroo restraining order hearing, and then when the malicious prosecution was set to proceed to trial, she showed up to lie to prosecutors. Each time, she'd mess up and change her story in ways that indicated she was maliciously inventing a false narrative in order to harm me in the worst way. Each time, she'd up the false allegations to make me look worse and worse. In other words, she is evil and capable of anything.

 Her lies not only made me lose my good name, my good money, and my good peace of mind but my liberty. She gave me severe PTSD. Serious business. 
She got help, but she was, it could be argued - the main instigator. Over time I have concluded that she was the main instigator. I wanted to return the favor by using the truth against her. In this circumstance, I'd discover what she was trying to pass off as truth, and expose it as a lie.

Total Loss was scheduled to come out in August of 2016. We know this from her twitter:

It's actually happening: My column Total Loss is becoming a book! Publication in summer of 2016 by Atria (Simon & Schuster). Thanks to all.

Then this made one think it was coming out in January of 2017

 and then sometime in January of 2017, 
a site called, Book Filter it was scheduled to come out in August of 2017

  • $24.00 (Hardcover)
  • August 29, 2017
  • Atria Books
  • 304
  • 1501115286
  • 9781501115288

I didn't copy it and now it's gone, but sometimes around January of 2017, Simon and Shuster's official publishing page said it was coming out in August of 2018. A few weeks later, it was changed to August of 2045. A month or so after that, it was changed to January of 2050. Those are not typos, the official publisher page was saying there would be a two year delay, then a 27 year delay, and then a 34 year delay. Not sure what that was about.

As of today, January 21th 2018, this is what you'll see if you look up Stef Willen's Simon and Schuster publishing page

Looking for something?
Sorry, the page you've requested has been moved or taken off the site.
So now it's not a three-month delay, or year, or two years, or 27 years or a 34-year delay. Now, it's looking more like never. Or in Willen's words, it's actually NOT HAPPENING.

What could have gone wrong? 

It was a big deal - A first time author gets an agent and then a book deal, with a majorly major publisher, and then it gets delayed and delayed till it appears to get totally pulled. What went wrong and why? 

Since it's never been released, I haven't read Ms.Willen's book, either the first or final draft, but I would bet anything there is a wealth of untruths or straight out lies in that manuscript, but let's just stick to the lies, or if we are to be kind- inconsistent statements-found by just using her own words, the editors description, and good old Google.

Stef Willen's education:

According to Willen's LinkedIn profile, she attended the University of Colorado-Boulder for three years. No mention of any B.A much less graduating with a Cumlaude or Phi Beta Kappa

Willen would say in her bio, on her own website, that she had a B.A in anthropology and Biology, and graduated Cum Laude. In the editors's description, it would be a B.A in Paleoanthropology.

In the editors' description, she'd say that she "derailed" her college years with drugs and drink. 

In the Mcsweeney's column(of which the book apparently stems from) she'd say in one chapter that she graduated magna cum laude and in another paragraph of the same exact column that she graduated with a golden Phi Beta Kappa key. On the website for the movie EM, it was magna cumlaude in Biology and Anthropology.

Willen's Education according to bio for movie EM ( From

A. 2001, Stef graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in anthropology and biology. 


At the very least, the doors my  Little Golden Phi  Beta Kappa Key were going to open weren’t supposed to be X’ed with yellow caution tape and kicked in with my own foot.

A few lines later, in SAME PAGE:  I thought: You have to be kidding me. I graduated Magna Cum Laude; I was the star of several student films

Note: No! You have to be kidding me, Willen! In the same page, you say you graduated both magna cumlaude and Phi Beta Kappa?! Then the editor's description says your academic life was derailed due to drug and drink? In what world is getting a golden uh Phi Beta Kappa key a sign of academic derailment or failure?

Also, in the editor's description, there is no mention of her being the star of any student films, and there is no mention of any agent spotting her in any way. There it's one post- grad class sending her to L.A and discussion of this being "grossly naive." On the Em website, it was one "thesis film," her roommate cast her in leading an agent to see it and get her to move to L.A No mention of any other short or long films.

Her acting career

 While attending the University of Colorado, she obtained a more demanding role when her roommate asked her to be the lead in her senior thesis short film. In 2001, Stef graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in anthropology and biology. She was planning on going to Africa to study apes or dig for ancestral humans, but her film was seen by a talent manager in Los Angeles who encouraged her to pursue acting. Stef moved to Denver and studied acting with Brian McCulley. Shortly thereafter, she was signed by an agent and moved to Los Angeles in 2003. There, she studied acting with Nina Kether Axelrod and improv at the Groundlings and ACME Comedy Theatre. She has since starred in many short films and works as an editor to a syndicated columnist. 

Ok, so here it's after being spotted in a student thesis film, a talent manager suggests she take acting seriously and Stef Willen doesn't pass up on such a once in a lifetime opportunity. A talent manager in Boulder, Colorado in charge of watching Student Thesis Films (We must presume,) has spotted something very special in our budding fabulist oops I mean... thespian. Fuck the Phi Beta Kappa in fossils, you're such a star, Stephanie!

Get thee to Hollywood but first get thee to Denver. In Denver, she gets training of all sorts with a guy named Brian. Shortly thereafter, she is signed by an agent in Denver, we can presume. Then moves to L.A with an agent from either Denver or L.A? Not clear which but according to her she takes more classes, hones the craft etc.

 As of 2009, when this bio for EM was posted, she is claiming that not only is she starring in a full-length indie film but has since starred in many short films

This is another lie. Any google search or IMDB check will show that in fact , Stef Willen, till that point, and till now(2018) has starred in one short film (A Lesbian short called, "Long Ago." A short made by her friend, Christy Wegener.)

How did Willen characterize her acting trajectory in that Mscweeney's column, that was supposed to have been turned into a book?

So I didn’t really decide anything for myself. Someone said I should take an acting class. I did. I got signed by an agent in L.A. and she said I should move there. And I did.

(Ah, so it was an L.A agent in Denver that told her to "move there." And once there she got one who lived in Denver?) OK!

Someone said to take class. Did. Got signed by agent in Denver who lived in L.A. Agent said move there. Did.

No Denver. No talent manager discovering her. Who forgets such milestone moments?

How did she describe it on her Website 

After taking one acting class in college, she moved to Los Angeles to be an actress\

Note: What happened to that talent manager and agent story? Now it's a whole different narrative- one class in college.

What does it say in the official editors' description? As found here 

Her dreams of a Nobel prize-winning career in paleoanthropology had been derailed in college by emotional turmoil and addiction,and after taking just one post-grad acting class, 
she made the grossly naïve decision to conquer Hollywood.

(So now it's on post grad class and pretty much deranged levels of recklessness after taking a class AFTER college. Forget about that Cumlaude, Magnacumlaude or was it Phi Beta Kappa?And sans the agent, classes, talent managers mentioned in other bios, she moves to L.A to be a seek fame and fortune after one single class in college or was in post grad?)

Also,so now Phi Beta Kappa is considered a sign of academic derailment? Now there's no agent, no talent manager, no thesis, and not even a college course. Now in the editor's description, it's one POST grad acting class.

Total loss was supposed to be based on the conceit that Ms. Willen works full time for a company that details losses in fires or perhaps other disasters. Loss specialist is the job description. The editor's description says she is working the job full time and she is 26. I met Willen when she was 28 and then she was working for an advice columnist named Amy Alkon full time. But, let's give Willen the benefit of the doubt and assume she worked full-time at that job at some point.

 Let's just explore the other careers she planned to write about for the now mysteriously missing memoir.

This leads us to the dooziest doozy of them all.

Let's take a look what she says about her jobs in just the Mcsweeney's column. It was a 19 part column.And by all indications, Willen forgets the lies she's spouted just a few columns previous to the coming columns.
I spent two years, working on a popular reality show. I made my way up from a lowly Production Assistant to an Associate Producer, but I quit the day Deb from clearance started decorating the office window with Halloween decals a month in advance. It wasn’t the fact she was covering up our only natural light source with pumpkins that felt so suffocating, it was the sudden realization that there was no light at this job for me. I didn’t want to become a producer.

Note: So rose to associate producer but quit cause didn't want to be producer cause no light and a Deb getting on our fabulist's oops I mean heroine's nerves. Rather work as a loss specialist or as an assistant to Amy Alkon(who she despised.)????

Let us flash back to 10 columns before:

Five years earlier, I was working on a popular reality show. 
Before the holiday break, the executive producer pulled me into his office and said to call him in January because he was moving to another show and wanted to bring me with him and make me a producer. I bragged about it to family and friends. I think I even bought a blazer. When I was back in Los Angeles, I called him but the line got all fuzzy when he answered.
“Hello? Hello?” He’d said. “HELL-O-O-O? Who is this?”
I told him it was me several times then hung up, and feeling nervous and embarrassed, waited a week before I rang him again. I called him from a laundromat because it seemed less scary to crowd the phone call with the sounds of strangers instead of the silence of my apartment and hope.
“Hi Todd, it’s me…”
“Hello? Who? I can’t hear you. Hello?”
The line crackled and got fuzzy, so I hung up and never called him again. I convinced myself he had changed his mind about me. But quite possibly the only reason I’m not a reality TV producer right now is because of bad phone reception. I think I’d hate being a reality producer, though. I’d rather have the freedom to document people’s lives as I see them instead of getting network notes to cut and paste their thoughts, splice their boring humanity with B roll footage of them doing something dramatic.

So now she didn't quit. Instead, now it's that head honcho, Todd, noticed that same specialness that attracted that talent manager and agent. Wanted to make her a producer.  She naturally wanted it badly. Pursued it but in the 21st century she is met with epically bad phone reception???? First she hangs up on poor Todd. A week later is met by crackling phone lines and poor Todd wondering if she's some phony phone caller. Who is this? Who is this he plaintively wailed as she sat in a laundromat?

 Why not try a third call or just resort to e-mail is a good question to ask. Why no one caught the huge change of story is another good question since it was in the same column.

 In that completely different version, she makes peace with that though cause you know she is on her way to a big fat book deal with Simon and Schuster. That is if they don't pay any attention to how her stories change and how very bad she is at lying. Mcsweeney's didn't catch it. Simon and Schuster didn't and probably wouldn't.....How the hell did Mcsweeneys and Simon and Schuster not catch all these glaring lies?

Stef Willen could never keep her story straight in that case. She mixed it up and detracted and added details as time went on. The details got uglier and uglier the more they needed to win what they shouldn't have wanted to win.

Everything she said was a lie and she did it badly. When Nick Kroll's connections got her to win a Mcsweeney's contest in 2010, once again our disingenuous scribe can't keep her story straight within the SAME COLUMN. In the same exact column she forgets her lie and adds a more impressive lie. Amazing

You have to be kidding me. I graduated Magna Cum Laude; I was the star of several student films.

a few sentences down:
At the very least, the doors my little golden Phi Beta Kappa key were going to open weren’t supposed to be X’ed with yellow caution tape and kicked in with my own foot
Phi Beta Kappa key?

Why downgrade that to a cumlaude, in your online bio for the awful movie, Em, and in your book bio?

In 2001, Stef graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in anthropology 

For more on the lies Stef Willen told and how her ill gotten gains( in this case, a book deal with Simon and Schuster) slowly but surely fell to pieces
More fabulistic madness ensues - Willen got a spot on NPR's This American Life. I won't get into how she got it, but it can be found in that link above. You can even tell that Ira Glass doesn't believe a word she is spouting, since the story is ridiculous on its face.

Notes if you keep reading the This American Life thing below:

She tells Glass she was a lowly P.A who emptied trash cans. Bunch of reality shows now!!!!!!! No associate producer offer after working 2 years on same show. This nutjob keeps pluralizing the singular. She never tells Glass that poignant story of how her boss, a woman named Todd lost touch with her due solely to bad reception. She tells him that she never rose above a lowly P.A No mention of an associate producer or how and how a woman named Todd was eyeing for a producer role.

I'm just noticing the many reality shows lie and how she was telling him she never rose past lowly P.A now. Unreal. How the hell did she get away with this shit for so long?

r. Underling Gets An Underling.

Ira Glass

Act 4, Underling Gets An Underling. This is the story of somebody in a job that sounds like the kind of thing that would be, sort of, exciting. Stef Willen worked on a bunch of reality TV shows, but she was a production assistant, a PA, which is the lowest rung on the ladder. She did a lot of emptying trash cans.

Stef Willen

I remember running around town with the weirdest lists of stuff to get, like toilet paper with a specific pattern on it. I've had one boss, she would do things like ask me to hang curtains in her office. And I was like, "Oh, but your wall is made of concrete." And she was like, "Oh, you can do it." You know? Stuff like that. I would be given these bizarre tasks, and if you didn't do them right, there was always this sense of are you stupid?

Ira Glass

And so the way understand it is that towards the end you came up with a plan. Can I ask you to just describe the plan that you came up with?

Stef Willen

I just thought it would be hilarious if I came in the next day with an eager young person who was my production assistant.

Ira Glass

Oh. So you would be a PA and you would have your own PA.

Stef Willen

Exactly. Which is really unnecessary. It's a gopher with a gopher, so I don't know. I wanted to make a point. It'd just be like a little sweet revenge, you know?

Ira Glass


Stef Willen

I don't know.

Ira Glass

No. No. I understand. You'd be upsetting the natural order.

Stef Willen

Right. Totally. It's like, if you can get someone under you, it's simple math, but you are not at the bottom. I just knew that I was somehow taking control over what was happening in my life if I could put someone just right under me.

Ira Glass

So, OK. So you're a PA hiring a PA. How'd you go about it?

Stef Willen

I wrote up a Craigslist seeking a production assistant on a popular reality TV show. For the ability, I said must possess a medium work ethic, the ability to take out trash, and then sit for hours and work for free. And 21 people responded. 21 people. I was amazed.
I ended up going with this guy, I'll call him Adam. It was interesting, I hired him because I actually felt like he might be slightly delinquent. When we had our, quote, unquote, "interview," he never turned down his car radio. And it was that kind of thing. And I'm like, OK. Well, we're going to meet at the coffee shop and we're going to drive to set. "OK." I'm like, "Do you want to get out a pen and a paper and write this down?" "Oh, OK."

Ira Glass

Oh, wow. So he's really a real beginner. Like, he really was not necessarily ready for the responsibility of a--

Stef Willen

Of a phone conversation.

Ira Glass

Yeah. Or a job.

Stef Willen

Yeah. I met him at a coffee shop. And he was this nice looking young guy. And he was wearing this argyle sweater and this scarf and a beret. And I was like, "Oh, my gosh. What did I just do?"

Ira Glass

A beret?

Stef Willen

A beret. Yeah. He followed me in his car to set, and I was getting a little nervous because I actually hadn't planned anything past this point. The first person we see is the line producer, and she was frantic, as always. You know, "Come on. Come on. We've got a big day. We've got to get going." And I said, "Oh, well you'll be glad to know I have some help. This is Adam, and he is my production assistant for today." And she just sort of stopped and looked at me. And she goes, "Well, good. We need the extra help." And there was no Stef is a genius. Or, oh look what Steff did. It was, literally, like oh, thank you. Oh, we need the help. How did you get him to work for free?

Ira Glass

And so you did introduce him to your bosses?

Stef Willen

Yeah. I introduced him to everybody. I mean, I don't know why I thought that they would learn something from it, but I totally underestimated I guess, the joke, but also their need for workers. They were in production mode. They're not stopping to look at what I'm trying to say. They're like, OK. Well, we're 10 minutes behind. We can use Adam over here in hair and makeup.

Ira Glass

So you were hoping that they would get the lesson of, you see, this whole system you have is so arbitrary? And, we're not just cogs in a machine. Like, I could be a boss. And the lesson they took was not only are you all cogs in a machine, but you're such a cog, we can't even see that you're talking. Like you're not even an animal making noise here. Like, OK. Now, hand me that other animal over there.

Stef Willen

Yeah. Exactly. It's like, oh, two cogs for one. Awesome. We'll take this one, you know? I went from his boss to his sidekick to, I don't know, his buddy? I'd be like, oh, I got this trash can. So it would be really gross and disgusting, and I'm like, oh, I don't want to mess up his scarf. I made sure he ate first. Like, he got his lunch before me.
At one point, we were all sitting around the table. We'd been sitting staring at each other for about two hours, because they were filming, with nothing to do. And I looked over at Adam, and he had taken his beret off and it was on his knee. And he was, sort of, slouched down, and he was moving M&M's across his plate, one by one, with his index finger. And I think he said, "I have never not done anything for this long a time." And I was like, "Well, you know, it did say in my ad the ability to sit for hours." And he laughed.
But shortly after, I told him to go. I was like, "Well, you know, you did a great job today. Definitely send me your resume." He kept in touch, like, he would email, do you know so-and-so? Or just little questions, you know? And then, at one point, he stopped asking me questions. And I got this text from him at 8:26 AM, and it said, "I want you." Period. "I want your body." Period. "Right now." Period. And I was like, OK.

Ira Glass

What did that say to you?

Stef Willen

That he had not taken me seriously at all.

Ira Glass

So you got him into your life because nobody else took you seriously, and then even he doesn't take you seriously.

Stef Willen

Right. It just, sort of, made me laugh. I thought, OK. Well, he wants my body right now, which, 8:26 AM, that wasn't a good time for me.

Ira Glass

Stef Willen, she has quit her PA jobs. She starred in the independent film, M, which won last year's Seattle International Film Festival, and she's writing a book.

It' overkill at this point, but some notes on this segment:

NUMBER 1. There was no Adam and no beret! OMG 

it's now many reality shows she is claiming. when I knew her she never told me about one show and we talked about reality shows so that's a very bizarre omission. Also,  none of this reads as remotely realistic or general. Not just cause it has the ring of untruth, but because if you knew Willen she just is no fun prankster. She would never engage in the kinds of shenanigans she describes to  Ira Glass. And, what kind of story is this? 
 Some distressed egotist feels shitty about her lot in life so exploits some poor sod named Adam by wasting his damned time and giving him false hope? And he, of course, is wearing wacky garb such as beret and scarf.  She's pulling this stunt just so this psycho can feel good about herself?  And years after the fact, she forgets the associate producer who absent phone reception would have been a producer lie. C'mon now.
So much in that Mcsweeney's column also rings so false. I could show that in spades, but I just hope there is no longer a need to. 

This part in that piece does however ring true to the kind of sick puppy that I saw in action.

Ira Glass

No. No. I understand. You'd be upsetting the natural order
Willen: Right. Totally. It's like, if you can get someone under you, it's simple math, but you are not at the bottom. I just knew that I was somehow taking control over what was happening in my life if I could put someone just right under me.

Motive for why she did what she did to me? She felt buried and had to bury someone else to feel better about herself. hmmmm
Why I am invested in outing this Stef Willen as a liar:

The short version: She ruined my life with lies. I want to return the favor but using the truth:

The long version:


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