I am often amazed at the power of the internet to connect people. This post’s guest lives all the way in Seattle, Washington, which I love. I went there on my honeymoon with my practice husband about a million years ago. (My uncle gave us plane tickets to anywhere in the US, and we picked the furthest spot we could go.)
Sarah’s first book is Sex and Death in the American Novel, something I would probably never pick up, as I’m not into erotic novels. But I might now, based on Sarah’s answers to The Questions. By the way, that awesome photo ^^^? I totally stole that off Sarah’s Facebook page. It’s of her books in Edmonds Bookshop, right next to those of one of her favorite authors! (See the first question, below).
Also, if you’re a wordsmith like me, you will probably be fascinated by the ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ blog posts written by her editor, Katie Flanagan, about their revision/editing process.
Sarah asked me to include her book trailer, with the words “I LOVE this thing”. So how I could I say no?
Now I really want to read her book. In the meantime, on to…
16. Who inspires you? or Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Passionate people—even if I don’t agree with what they are saying—inspire me.
As far as writers go, Junot Diaz and Marco Vassi. Both of them write really loud and strong, and about subjects that they are passionate about. Junot Diaz shows what can happen when someone with personality, experience and education lets loose with language. This man is an Artist. In my mind there is no one higher. Culocrat is one of my all-time favorite words. Marco Vassi writes life in a way that informs a lot of what I do. These guys serve as examples of what is possible, they exhibit a sensibility and perfection that I strive for.
People who are colorful, loud, fearless and also the ones that make me angry or afraid motivate me.
Marilyn Manson really does something for me. I watched his (their) videos and read his autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell. There are things inside me that are scary, or angry, or that I am ashamed of, and I have always known I was going to have to be brave and outrageous to be able to express that stuff. There is also this sense of outrage and interest in presenting the world to people in a way they aren’t used to that I think is important. For me it is important to have people to look to when I am afraid, people who remind me it is okay, and necessary to be different.
Rush Limbaugh says things that give me something to respond to and direct my energies toward. This is incredibly valuable. Just read one or two of his quotes on feminism, and then listen to Marilyn Manson do “This Is The New Shit” and you will have an idea where my head is when I am excited and happy to be working.
5. What skill(s) do you wish you’d learned as a kid?
To speak French. My grandmother was a native speaker and taught me a few songs, numbers, that sort of thing. She and my grandfather spoke it when they didn’t want us to understand them. The language is a part of my childhood, and familiar on a deep level for that reason. Now as an adult I have a friend who keeps quoting phrases from these cool books that were originally published in French. I want to be able to read Claude Simon or Jean Genet, knowing that the words there have not been altered in translation, but are exactly as they were composed.
(dSavannah note: You know, I wanted to learn to speak French too. I don’t remember why. Something along the lines of ‘I already speak Spanish’ – we had, after all, just moved back to the states from Puerto Rico. But for some reason my high school wasn’t offering French the year I needed my foreign language, so I just took Spanish.)
Discipline. My father worked very hard on this, and somehow it didn’t stick. I could have done so much if I had the ability to sit still and make myself study, write, and focus consistently. What I could do if I had read everything by the Marquis de Sade when my mind was still forming!
18. Your work space: neat or messy?
Messy and neat! Really. My desk is this huge L shaped executive thing. It takes up my entire office. In one corner I have this foot-tall mess of statements, paid bills and other household junk that I have been piling up since before my book launch. It gives me quite a bit of anxiety. I should not have it on my desk, but if I move it then I will forget about it. The good news is that it is just in one corner.
I love my desk and there is lots of space to spread books and notebooks, cards and magazine articles. Also, my desk never looks the same, it goes from a clean surface to being covered in sticky notes, so it is not often one or the other.
23. Where is your heart home and why?
Montana. I spent a large part of my childhood there and whenever I go back I get this sort of lust to live there. I start scheming on how I can live there forever without giving up the things I love about Seattle, the income, the visiting artists, the food, the events.
In Montana there is the familiarity of home, memories of when my life was happy with my family, and the sky, mountains, trees, lakes and rivers smell and feel like nowhere else. My parent’s ashes are scattered there as well.
20. When did you know you wanted to be a writer/artist?
Probably the first time I was able to recite back lines from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Five maybe? It seems like forever. My clearest memory is of this makeshift office I made for myself under the porch. I used wood from the pile under there to make a seat and desk. I would write first on notebook paper with a fountain pen my father gave me, and then I distinctly remember dragging an old typewriter down there at one point. I was like seven and I had already arrived.
(dSavannah note: I love this story! I vaguely remember having my own ‘desk’ at that age, but mine sat next to the kitchen.)
24. If you could go back and give your 13-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Take better notes! I had the worst time as a kid that age. I was ugly and awkward and got teased endlessly, then I started screwing around with boys and having all these new experiences. I got drunk for the first time, and then again. I also had this awful friend who I couldn’t seem to get away from. I think all of the things I did as a kid were inevitable so though there are a lot of things I wish I hadn’t done, I also know I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t, and life just looks sort of dull if I imagine being a better person, studying harder, getting better grades and striving to make my parents love me in the traditional ways.
24a. What about your 20-year-old self?
I wish I could have known what I was capable of at a younger age instead of being so afraid of failure that I didn’t do anything. My twenties are where I imagine the most missed opportunities. I still think everything I did at twenty contributed to my sensibilities now, so I wouldn’t change anything, but I do wish I could have taken advantage of all the free time! I spent most of my time sleeping or watching TV or reading trashy novels. I loved those by the way, and I am sure they served to feed my imagination, but there are so many things I could know now, had I been reading the right books. I think of all the dribble I could have written and gotten out of the way when I had no other responsibilities.
I am sure I annoy my younger friends because I am always telling them how proud I am that they aren’t drunken fools, or how proud I am that they have finished school and that they know what they want to do with their life.
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I did not know what I was capable of it. That came much later. I wish I could tell myself something to give myself that hope.
19. What is one of your pet peeves?
Flakiness. When people tell you they will do something and then when the time comes to do it they waffle, forget, or change their mind.
Now, with that said, the thing that I always think is funny, is how easy it is to rattle off things that bug me and not long after I will find myself doing that same thing. I am annoyed quite often by flaws in other people that I also have in myself.
(dSavannah note: I find myself getting annoyed at things my mother does, then realize, Oh. I do that too.)
Using quotes and references to classic erotic and literary icons, her first book, Sex and Death in the American Novel, is on one level an unconventional romance and on another a discussion of the merits of erotic literature. Sex becomes a metaphor for the pleasures of reading.
- Her Website
- Her Blog
- Buy her book online at Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Powell’s Books (paperback), or BN.com (paperback and Nook).
- Buy her book in RL at Edmonds Bookshop (Edmonds, Washington); it will soon be at Village Books (Bellingham, WA).