Tag Archives: interviews

Beauty Doesn’t Seem to Go Anywhere: An Interview with Catherine Lacey and Forsyth Harmon

There’s a sort of guilty pleasure that comes with reading a book illustrated on every page. Even more delicious is an illustrated book filled with exposed affairs, connected relationships, and literal-drawn-out lines of influence exposing our favorite artists from the decades gone by. When these elements come together in The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence, the result is the most electric read with which to start the new year.

I had the chance to ask writer Catherine Lacey and illustrator (and Weird Sister contributor!) Forsyth Harmon more about their new book, their favorite tidbits of gossip, and more:

Kati Heng: I know you had to cut down and leave out sooo much to include so many of these relationships in your book. If you were to write and illustrate a single book about the intermingling affairs of one couple or group (since it seems like every didn’t just settle for one partner!), who would you focus on and why?

Catherine Lacey: Anaïs Nin was a big inspiration for the early research and looking back, she was also one of the most prolific characters in the book as far as friendships, affairs and alliances go. Her diaries and letters reveal a sort of fervency she had about the people in her life and she left troves of writing about her relationships.

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Love Doesn’t Save Anyone from Themselves: An Interview with Angeli Cabal

Angeli Cabal

I first encountered Angeli Cabal’s work as the co-editor-in-chief of {m}aganda Magazine. My staff and I were blown away by the pieces she submitted–poems critiquing colonialism, Western beauty standards, and the figure of the Filipino woman. I was stunned to see that in addition to being a poet, Cabal is also a visual artist and multi-genre writer who creates sleek, intricate, highly clever illustrations and incredibly heart-wrenching creative essays. In addition, Cabal has been a devoted fanfiction author since age 12 and has garnered an impressive online readership on Tumblr. In 2013, Cabal self-published her first chapbook, True Love and Other Myths, which sold out after the first printing. She went on to publish a second chapbook, The Anatomy of Closed Doors, joining the ranks of  poets and writers who use social media as their vehicle. Cabal’s work is raw, evocative, hands-on, and accessible. She joined me for a conversation where we discussed fanfiction, our immigrant parents, and which three fictional characters she would invite for a session of afternoon tea.

MV: I’m not sure if you’ve read this recent Buzzfeed article about women and fanfiction, but they argue that fanfiction is a central genre for women writers because it allows us to create narratives that are not available in everyday life. Why fanfiction? Why should we keep writing and reading fanfiction? What power does this form of creation give us?

AC: It’s been 14 years since I started writing fanfiction and I’ve never grown out of it. Fanfiction is so much more accessible for me because of world building. In fanfiction, you already have this world created for you so there’s less pressure and you can focus on the narratives you want to tell, particularly characters you want to transform and flesh out. When you have these characters presented to you and you see all the paths and avenues the author could have taken to make them more human, these are awesome opportunities to take. It is also such a supportive community, I can’t even read some of the stuff I wrote back then because it was so horrible but I get reviews that say, “Hey, this is really good, keep it up.” That was so important for me as a young writer because no one else knew I was writing fanfiction. It really encouraged me and is one of the reasons why I still write fanfiction today. Continue reading

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Identity is a Fickle Thing: An Interview with Marisa Silver

A child is born in an unknown country and two things are immediately noticed: The girl, named Pavla by her parents, is both beautiful and her growth is absolutely stunted. So begins Marisa Silver’s magical new novel, Little Nothing, which traces Pavla’s transformations from a young girl with dwarfism to a beautiful non-dwarf teenager, and finally, into a wolf. The story bursts with magic, with the longing to discover identity, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a forbidden love between Pavla the wolf and the man who protects her. I spoke to author Silver about this new novel, so read on to reveal more of the magic:

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Kati Heng: Is there a metaphor hiding inside Pavla’s transformations from dwarf to beauty to wolf?

Marisa Silver: When I wrote the book, I avoided thinking about what it meant. I know that’s probably an odd thing to say, but if I decide in advance what a novel is supposed to be about, what its big themes are, then the resulting work will not find its way towards surprise. I just put my head down and write characters and try to make their actions and behaviors true for them during any given emotional moment or situation.

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A Mix of a Sassy Teenager and a Crotchety Old Lady: An Interview with Hadley Freeman

One of the most enjoyable, personal, and feminist books I’ve read this summer had to be Hadley Freeman’s 80s film exploration Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (and Why We Don’t Learn Them From Movies Any More). Not only is this a book that examines in detail some of the greatest films of (dare I say?) all-time such as The Princess Bride, Coming to America, Pretty in Pink, and Ghostbusters; the real draw of the collection is Freeman herself. Reading this book is like having a way cooler older sister watching the film right alongside you, pointing out the lessons you would have overlooked while simply laughing at the classic John Hughes wit. It’s hard to finish the book without feeling like Freeman is that cool upperclassmen in school that for some inexplicable reason, has taken you under her wing as friend, and a girl like me couldn’t waste the chance to extend that feeling into an interview. Read on to see some of the questions I couldn’t help but ask her about the book, feminists in film, and of course, Ghostbusters:

Kati Heng: As I read the book, I kept thinking that the subtitle very easily could have been “What 80s Movies Taught Us About Feminism and Why We Don’t Learn That Stuff from Movies Anymore,” or something catchier. Did you ever consider releasing this book in a more upfront feminist version?
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Talking with Cheena Marie Lo About A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters

A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters (Commune Editions, 2016) by Cheena Marie Lo is a book of poetry that challenges what “poetry” can be. This text “[attends] to the sorts of mutual aid and possibility that appear in moments of state failure. As such it maps long and complicated equations, moving from Katrina to the prisoners at Riker’s Island as they await Sandy. It understands disaster as a collective system, the state as precarious, and community as necessary” (Commune Editions, 2016). While Lo’s original preoccupation concerned headlines of the past, in light of recent events in Orlando, I feel like this text, unfortunately, continues to be relevant today.

so what about the instinct to survive.

so what about birds and burying beetles.

so what about support and what about struggle.

so what about ants and bees and termites.

so what about the field upon which tender feelings develop
even amidst otherwise most cruel animals.

so what about migration. breeding. autumn.

so what about the numberless lakes of the russian and siberian steppes
and what about aquatic birds, all living in perfect peace—

Geraldine KimMany sections in A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters begin with some sort of carrier word or phrase that is repeated throughout that same section (e.g., “Because Another Tropical Storm is Looming,” with the word “because” or “Poor Marks for His Handling of Federal Response” with the word “poor”). Can you talk a bit about the function of this repetition in regards to the overall project/subject matter?

Cheena Marie Lo: Repetition is something that I use a lot in my writing because it reflects my thought process when I’m trying to figure something out. I have a tendency to relentlessly circle around things in my head. Some of these “carrier” words or phrases were part of the procedures I used when writing this– I lifted instances of “because” or “poor” or other “carriers” in the texts that I was working with. Reducing the materials to these words and phrases that surrounded them illuminated patterns and narratives in the source material. My intention with the repetition was to build and expand these narratives out.

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Defining a Clit Lit Tradition: A Conversation with Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall (Via)

We need to start saying “clitoris” more. As Peggy Orenstein’s research in her new book Girls and Sex illustrates, we don’t focus enough in American society on female pleasure. We talk about consent, but not what comes after consent: patience, creativity, communication, orgasms, reciprocity, etc. Cis male pleasure is still prioritized. (Ann Friedman points out, in The Cut, that this isn’t just a young girl problem—it affects women of all ages.) Elizabeth Hall’s nonfiction book, I Have Devoted My Life To The Clitoris, just out from Tarpaulin Sky Press, is an unflinching contribution toward normalizing female pleasure and educating others on the full complexity of the clitoris. I wish I had read this book so much earlier in my life; it’s one of those ideas that seems so simple (a book about the clitoris!) that it’s unbelievable how long it has taken to be born into existence.

Elizabeth Hall uses bullet points to string together bits of information: historical facts, scientific research, female and male literary excerpts on the clit, and occasional first-person anecdotes. This is a slim book, easy to read in one day, though clearly the type of book you return to constantly or lend out to friends. Hall’s writing is smart, engaging, personal, political, and willing to take risks. Hall doesn’t hold back. I Have Devoted My Life To The Clitoris will give you courage and make you proud to have this complex, tiny nubbin of history, politics, and pleasure between your legs.  Continue reading

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The Guy Was a Walking Metaphor: An Interview with Susan Perabo

Author Susan Perabo

There’s a story in Pushcart Prize winner Susan Perabo’s new collection of short stories, Why They Run the Way They Do, where an awkward stuffed-animal armadillo creates a metaphor for a struggling marriage. How is that even possible, you wonder? I have no answers. Perabo’s magic lies in her ability to pull beauty, insight, and depth out of the most mundane experiences. Read on to learn more about Perabo and some of the stories included in her collection. 

Kati Heng: The first quote I fell in love in this book with comes quickly — “My father thought the Hanleys were lunatics, but…he believed it was important for me to be exposed to lunatics — provided they were harmless — in order to be a well-rounded adult.” Did your parents share this same theory? Who were some of the “lunatics” you were exposed to while growing up?

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ALL THE FEMINIST POETS: Elline Lipkin

ALL THE FEMINIST POETS features a single poem and an interview from a feminist poet that we love.

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Elline Lipkin is currently a Research Scholar with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women.  She also teaches poetry for Writing Workshop Los Angeles. Her first book, The Errant Thread, was chosen by Eavan Boland for the Kore Press First Book Award, and her second book Girls’ Studies was published by Seal Press. After many peripatetic years spent in all regions of the US and abroad, she now lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

                                                   La Sorcière

In literal French: a sorceress, a witch, also slang for any older,
 unmarried woman.  In French custom, a sorcière is also the name
for a simple band worn as a safeguard above a wedding ring.

                                                          It curls,
                           a thin slice of dun moon, its pressed lips
                           un-made-up against the stars’ hoyden brass.

                                                          And lines,
                           a tin wrinkle marring the stone’s set face,
                           a pucker of grey band capping the light’s fall.

                                                         It twists,
                          the concierge against her 6 a.m. broom, restless to sweep
                          two sets of 4 a.m. prints, fugitives fled past her door.

                                                        And taunts,
                          the loose gleam off a crinoline, a fille de joie’s indolent wink,
                          bordered by the nun’s stern wimple, the crone’s weird glance.

                                                        It sets,
                          flash status against the spinster’s slow fade, last aunt,
                          the mystery within the sealed attic’s rat-a-tat-tat.

                                                       Then pairs,
                          two cards pulled side by side from the arcana,
                          the diamond’s naive reach, the queen’s argentine pall. 

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We All Always Feel As Though We Are 12 Years Old Inside :: An Interview with Heather O’Neill


heatheroneill

Imagine a place where stories continue after the teller stops talking, the characters continue to move and exist and even question that very existence after the narrator has left the scene. Imagine an island where women are so scarce, men instead date human/animal hybrids, learning the troubles and joys of falling in love with a half-swan. Imagination, stretched to its very fantastic ends, is key in Heather O’Neill’s new collection of short stories, Daydreams of Angels, a collection that explores these premises and more. I got the chance to talk to the woman the literary world has nicknamed the “demented angel with an uncanny knack for metaphor” about the inspiration behind these stories, her own relationship to fantasies and more: 
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Past the Unreliable :: An Interview with Selah Saterstrom

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Slab (small title continued: “On That Hallelujah Day When Tiger & Preacher Meet”) is one of those novels that hits you fast and hard, that you finish in one sitting, gulping down like an ice-cold glass of water, yet fail to be able to fully recall or explain the experience even moments after it ends. What’s for sure is this: the story of Slab centers around Tiger, a woman named for the color of her hair, a dancer, a dreamer, a girl fully rooted in the post-Katrina South, who may or may not be narrating the entirety of her story to Miss Barbara Walters. It’s little use trying to quickly describe Slab or its character Tiger, who is, after all, only as complex and fascinating as the author of the beast, Selah Saterstrom. In our brief interview, Saterstrom explores religion and its possible “anti-heroes,” Southern roots (and holds), even the heroisms of Nancy Drew. If you enjoy even a piece of this interview, go, fast, and pick up Saterstrom’s Slab (and all her other works).

Kati Heng: The setting of Mississippi seems to hold such a prominence in the story of Slab. Could this story have taken place anywhere else? What would it have looked like elsewhere?

Selah Saterstorm: The de-categorizing hand of the disaster doesn’t mind manners or borders. In this sense, the story could have taken place anywhere. Capitalism and politics, however, are sickly-bloated with border-fetish. In this sense, the disaster that was FEMA very much locates the story in Mississippi and Louisiana.

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