Oct 04 2011
My guest this week is Christy Leigh Stewart, an independent writer from northern California whose most notable work is forthcoming.
Hi Christy! Great to have you here. Tell the cool peeps about yourself.
Hello! My name is Christy Leigh Stewart and I was born in 1985 so I grew up with a good amount of the neon 80s style and the 90s dirty hair. My astrological birth chart has heavy fire aspects in deep set water so my element is gasoline which explains a lot about me; I go with the flow until I get lit then I go until I’m totally burnt out.
Please, tell us a bit about the books you’ve written.
Most of what I do are short fictional pieces about transgressive characters. I do a bit of nonfiction, mostly feminist essays for zines.
As writers, we have much in common, but we also have many differences in purpose and motivation. What is your purpose of writing?
My initial purpose when I sit down to write is to put foreign ideas into a context I can understand. Most people seem to think I set out to shock people but it’s quite the opposite; I try to make the taboo approachable.
I used to say I would never write a romance novel but upon request that’s what I’m doing for this year’s Nanowrimo. I can say, though, with 100% certainty that I will never write about well-adjusted, good-looking people.
You are a huge supporter of indie lit. Can you tell us why you’re so passionate?
I love that bands can be viable just by mixing one song on their computer, putting it up for download and creating their own Facebook page. Likewise, I love that with a cheap camera and a free afternoon someone can throw together a film, post it on YouTube and become an international sensation. And general art! That’s the best of all. Finally, someone can tag a wall and be a critically acclaimed artist for it. This has given people real freedom of expression and market. Big business, for the first time, has to come to the consumer and see what we like instead of dictating what is good and controlling popular culture. Grant Morrison said that only the middle class actually use money; the rich and the poor barter and steal. This new reign of the amateur can really level the playing field.
The only socially acceptable exception to the rule is literature. Lit fans are so pretentious that they disregard any self-published work as a rule. Although small press publications are becoming all the rage and there is a huge following for flash fiction and fanfic the moment an individual says “I want to release this for consumption without giving up any control,” they are seen as deplorable for wanting to self-publish.
I can’t change this, but I hope to help. I self publish all my work in the most hated way, as print on demand. I charge only what it takes to print them so I make no money. I only use myself as promotion (meaning I usually give books away at my expense to anyone interested) I try to write as best I can and always be proud of what I put out but my true goal is to sacrifice myself in the name of artistic freedom. I try to encourage anyone and everyone to publish a book, no matter how bad or ridiculous their work. I hope the industry gets flooded with mediocre work and people finally have to find good work on their own instead of just checking the label like some stereotypical teeny bopper buying shoes.
Hakim Bey inspired this goal when I first read this quote by him: “If rulers refuse to consider poems as crimes, then someone must commit crimes that serve the function of poetry, or texts that possess the resonance of terrorism.”
I know that you’re a voracious reader and reviewer. Has reading so many books in so myriad genres helped you develop your own style?
Its developed my material, that’s for sure. Whatever I don’t like goes into the Do-It-Better file of my brain that I pull out when I’m looking for inspiration.
You’ve got a very edgy wit and you like to push the envelope. Do you think some people misunderstand you?
I totally do! I can’t count the times some guy with a copy of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch in one hand and a razor blade in the other have told me they get me…they get me like no one else ever could. The thing about me is that everyone misunderstands that I am misunderstood. I’m not that deep.
Talk about being misunderstood… No one believes that I am a fan of The Bachelor but I’ve never missed an episode. The objectification, the exploitation, the hot guys? What isn’t there to love? If I didn’t watch things like this I would never feel indignant enough to write anything.
What are some of the other reality shows that you watch? Does people watching influence your writing?
I’ll watch anything. Sometimes what I watch is directly effected by what I’m watching. There is a poem in Loath Letters called “I Love You” that is the best example of this. I was watching some show where a woman was sharing her experiences with postpartum depression and I couldn’t grasp the mindset someone could be in to murder their own baby so I paused the TV and wrote that poem.
If you could have a dinner table and invite your favorite people from history, whether dead or alive, with whom might we find you dining?
I’d love to give an exciting answer but honestly I would love to have one last conversation with my father. He was the most influential figure in my life until he died when I was just turning thirteen. I don’t have any regrets or unresolved issues because I got more time and love from my father than most people I know but I would love to have an adult conversation with him. Tell him I finally get all those dirty jokes he said he would explain to me when I was older.
Food. If a pickle touches anything it is banished from my sight.
What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?
Not to trust doctors.
What do you hope to know in five years that you don’t know now?
Where can people find you in cyberspace?
Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?
Buying one of my books would be lovely, Terminally Beautiful is my latest one, but I’d mostly like to be your friend. Hit me up on any of the links above.