Your story’s protagonist has a history of eroticizing mythology. What was your first encounter with the “innocent” turned erotic, and, like Faye, how have you used this to your advantage?
If I’m being honest, it was probably an old episode of a Batman cartoon. I can’t remember what the episode was about, but for a long time I was haunted by the visual of Robin chained up in a dark place just before Batman swooped in to save him, tenderly carrying the young man away. As a little kid, I didn’t know what to do with this scene or why it made me feel so “weird.” For my fiction now, I often pan for memories of small, distinct ghosts like this, things that made me feel frightened or ashamed or turned on (or all of the above) and use them to sharpen my characters. Erotic memories and details are especially choice fodder, I think, because they can help to quickly ground a character’s physical body, making said character (and their story) much more relatable.
When you become a genie, what do you find in your smoke?
Oh, I love this question! In my smoke there glints a great many fangs and flashing eyes, there’s tons of sex, monsters and reptiles and fragmented memories of my biological father, a girl I shouted at in the fifth grade, deep inferiority issues, wind chimes, bats, trees, lots of trees, resentments, childlessness, my mother, Depression, a variety of pointy-hatted churches, lanterns, guilt, arrogance, all the people I’ve let down, a whorl of books, all the lies I’ve told, and all the lies I’m going to tell.
There is an irony in Faye feeling pressure to prove her validity as an artist by tattooing an image not considered “high art.” What advice would you give her while she struggled to balance the two?
My Dear Faye:
Not everything has to mean Everything. It’s OK to let work be work. It’s OK if work is difficult or if it’s fun or if it feels frivolous or overwhelming sometimes. None of that makes you less meaningful as a person or as an artist. You don’t have to explain or justify your work to anyone, least of all your mother. You’re already a success.
Faye is exceptional at covering up creations and covering up to create. Does this process parallel your own when writing fiction?
Oh, absolutely. I’m a deceptively private person. I’m not a hugger or much of a sharer, though I get the impression that people think I share a great deal. Under the cloak of fiction, though, I feel safe enough to truly share things. Similar to what Faye does with her artist bio pic, I’ll often start on a new project by thinking about something petty—something I might not even admit to my spouse or therapist or best friend—and use that as the skeleton around which to hang the magical flesh of a story. My pettiness fascinates me. My fears and my anger fascinate me. Fiction gives me the cover necessary to uncover the grossness in myself and make it into something new.
Please list some things you find “wet as shit.”
Celebrity, nostalgia, the internet, Batman and Robin—anything that uses the art of disguise to become more powerful.