The Next Big Thing

My buddy Cecil Castellucci tagged me in this meme, in which you talk about a project you’ve been working on. Which is incredibly scary for me because I almost never talk about the project I’m working on. I worry that the magic will leak out. But Cecil is a magical being and I’m pretty sure she would never let me do anything to drain the mojo.

First, you should know about Cecil because her books are the only ones that consistently go missing from my bookshelves. I always tell my babysitters that they’re free to borrow any books they want and somehow Cecil’s never make it back. I don’t mind, really. I get it. They’re treasures. Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults and the young at heart. You will want to read them under your covers with a flashlight. They will make you remember who you were once, who you still are somewhere. Read one now!

The book I’m writing right now is a memoir about my epically post-modern family. Here goes:

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This memoir is different from Some Girls in that it addresses the very recent past. I think that my blog has got me in the habit of writing from a life-in-progress, rather than sharing a narrative that was all tied up in a bow long ago. I knew that I wanted to talk about identity, motherhood, adoption because those are my most pressing themes right now, but I wasn’t sure what the medium was going to be. Initially, I wrote a one-woman show, which I toured with this summer. But it became clear to me that I needed a wider canvas. I needed space to explore the issues more in-depth. When I sat down to write, a memoir started coming out of me. Ultimately, I think that where books come from is a mysterious thing.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie 

Tariku should definitely play himself. Who else could possibly do it? Scarlett Johansen as me (as if!). Vincent Price as my father (kidding). Mike Patton as Scott (just cause he’d be STOKED and also I want to watch the fake me make out with him).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

MAPPING THE FAULT LINES is the story of letting go of my mothers in order to become a mother, and how the journey enabled me to forgive all three of us.

When will this book be published?

I’ll let you know when I know!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft is still in progress. But I imagine it will take about four or five months. Then there will be seven or eight more drafts, because that’s how I work!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Lit by Mary Karr, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Homes.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Becoming a mother is so transformative that it’s almost impossible to ignore, as a writer of non-fiction. Plus, I find that people are very curious about our story. People ask me about it all day long. They seem to really want to know how I got from where I was back in the ol’ harem days to where I am now. So this book is the answer.

Here are the other super talented people that Cecil tagged:
Jenn Fujikawa and Sarah Kuhn and Amber Bensen., Liza Palmer, and Sherri L. Smith.

As for who I’m tagging to go next, here are some of my fave writers/friends/humans:

Shawna Kenney is the author of I Was a Teenage Dominatrix (Last Gasp), which is in development as a tv series with the FX Network. She also wrote Imposters (Mark Batty Publishers), a book about the celebrity impersonators of Hollywood Boulevard. She and her husband Rich Dolinger are currently co-editing Live at the Safari Club: a people’s history of harDCore. Her work has appeared in Bust, Ms., Juxtapoz, Creative Nonfiction and numerous anthologies.

Jamie Rose is an actress, teacher and author of the fabulous memoir Shut Up and Dance! The Joy of Letting Go of the Lead–On the Dance Floor and Off.

Amanda Fletcher doesn’t have a blog yet, but she’s cooking up a hell of a memoir. She was my mentee in the PEN USA EV Fellowship and she blows me away. Amanda, don’t give me lip! You’re it! Just post on fb or something!

The Polish Oprah and Perfect Potatoes

Here I am getting ready to be interviewed on the Polish talk show Rosmovy W Toku (Talk is in Progress). I had hoped that they’d give me that dramatic eye makeup I’ve come to associate with Slavic femme fatales, but they did a disappointingly tasteful job.

Once I had the earpiece fitted so I could hear my interpreter, I walked out onto the set and was surprised to find that there was a studio audience. The host, Ewa Drzyzga, the “Polish Oprah,” had a warm, casual manner, dressed in jeans and sitting next to me on a couch. The lag that occurs with translation is interesting. It interrupts the usual rhythm of conversation and you’re forced to just sit there and pause as you try to stay poised and maintain eye contact, in front of four cameras and an unreadable audience. I made it through the interview and the producers seemed happy. It went by fast and almost seemed like some kind of David Lynchian dream. I kept the eye makeup for the rest of the day.

In the picture with me is me with my new buddy Teresa Fortis, a Swiss woman who wrote a book called Lockruf Saudia (originally in German, unfortunately not translated into English yet), about her years living in Saudi Arabia and working for Saudi Airlines in the 80s. Along with the segment producer who brought us over, we wound up having a couple of lovely dinners that lasted late into the evening, as if we’d known each other for years. Fast intimacies are one of my favorite things about international travel. Another favorite thing is, I believe, one of life’s great pleasures- a meal eaten alone in a foreign city.

At a café overlooking Market Square in Krakow, I ate (sorry, mom) the best potato pancakes I’ve ever had in my life, while the other patrons drank vodka and talked passionately- about what I have no idea. Because I don’t understand a word of Polish, the language was just music weaving through the air around me

In these moments, I achieve a deep kind of noticing, a sensation of settling into myself. They almost always happen when I’m traveling alone. I wonder if there’s somehow a way to bring experiences like this home. They don’t take long. They just take a genuine detachment from the to-do list. They take a certain internal silence. I have tried meditating a million different ways and never seem to stick to it, never seem to get the peace I’m looking for. Instead, I achieve it over a perfect potato pancake, looking out over the flower market’s wild splashes of color against the grey day, the people hurrying by in dark coats, leaning into the wind.