Karin Tanabe on her new book, interviewing James Franco and more

For a behind-the-scenes look at the New York City art world, head to the fiction aisle.

Journalist Karin Tanabe’s second novel, “The Price of Inheritance,” follows Carolyn, a type A Manhattan transplant and Christie’s rising star who suddenly finds her career on the line. Can she swim with the real sharks in the mysterious, high-stakes art world, or will she sink?

Delving into the high-end art world wasn’t much of a stretch for Tanabe, who has written about the culture of celebrity for Politico. A politics expert, her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post. From her home in Washington, D.C., she clues us in to the black market art world, some of her favorite interviews and crashing the Met Ball.


Q Why did you want to write about the art world?

A My background is as a journalist for Politico. I was writing about celebrities and society. When you are covering society you are always are exposed to the art world. This was a way I could dabble in a career I always wanted to have. Have you ever seen the movie “The Red Violin”? It’s about a violin that travels throughout the ages and all the drama of the owners throughout centuries?I like that art is an object of exploration which can involve lovers or someone more corrupt.


Q Why create such a playful main character?

A I didn’t want a super sassy art-world novel. New York gallery girls are glamorous. The auction world shows the obsession and quirkiness of that world, especially with American furniture, which is not worth a ton like European furniture. The main character is someone smart and obsessed with art, and not with the world she worked in.


Q What did it take to research the book?

A I loved researching the book. I love investigative journalism. I was sworn to secrecy by some friends at Christie’s and Sotheby’s with the inside baseball vocabulary, and how the black market art world works. Most think of the art world like “The Thomas Crown Affair,” but it’s superbly shady.


Q Would this become a movie?

A I would love for this to become a movie. Art is sexy, and also means very different things for very different people. I think art crime would be great in a movie.


Q Who’s the most provocative New York actor you’ve written about?

A I interviewed James Franco, who whispered in my ear that he was getting off all social media. It was quirky and cute that he’d whisper in my ear. I also interviewed Mira Sorvino, who has the best legs I’ve ever seen. I instantly wanted to know what her leg workout was.


Q Any socialites come to mind?

A I interviewed Tory Burch, who is really accessible — she comes off as your sorority sister — and Susan Fales-Hill, who wrote a blurb for my book.


Q Where would you go find socialites and celebrities?

A I would crash the Met Ball and, surprisingly, camp out at airports and train stations. At galas they get drunk and are more willing to talk to you.


Q Did you ever live in New York?

A I went to Vassar, majored in French and minored in art history and divided my time between New York and D.C.


Q What are your favorite restaurants in New York?

A Ushiwakamaru for Japanese, which is super high-rated, on Houston. They make their own wasabi with special green horseradish from Japan.


Q Where do you shop?

A I wear a lot of AllSaints, Rag & Bone and Saint Laurent. I wear only Gucci shoes. I have an addiction to Gap jeans. And I wear Scotch & Soda T-shirts.


Q Any advice?

A For a reader, read many different authors. The way to appreciate is to read different kinds of books. Anyone who wants to write a book should. I play a game called “Island” and I’ll bring water and food, and I force myself to write for two-hour blocks. It’s an exciting and also productive time.