What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
Don’t Let it Get You Down by Savala Nolan.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I haven’t read anything that most people would define as a classic in a long time, but I recently read All About Love by Bell Hooks. A classic to ME.
Do you re-read books And if yes, what was your last re-read?
The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, which is funny and spooky and smart in a way that is distinctly Russian.
What are your go-to genres?
Usually fiction, although I love a good essay collection. I love something horror adjacent, or at least with elements of the genre (see next question for why).
What is your favorite childhood book?
The first things I ever read cover to cover on my own were Goosebumps books, and then I graduated Point Horror. Eventually I made a turn into more sophisticated gothic horror like Henry James and Mary Shelley. The Turn of the Screw freaked me out as a kid, in a fun way.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Flux by Jinwoo Chong.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
I’m a monster who dogears her books. I know its sacrilegious, I know it is scruffy, but it’s what feels good.
What is your ideal reading setting?
Beside a body of water, under a warm sun, the sound of someone making me food in a beautiful kitchen just out of sight.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
Probably Dogeared Books in San Francisco. It’s a treasure, and not even one drop pretentious. Has an excellent secondhand selection. I also love Booksmith in San Francisco, where I will be having my launch event for my book, which feels surreal.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Every independent bookstore I’ve stepped foot in is a pilgrimage, and I also like to theme my reading. If I am in LA I might read John Fante, if I am in London I might read Zadie Smith. This act is also a type of pilgrimage.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
In bed. I once read that Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote Fleabag in bed, and I thought well shit if it’s good enough for HER. Also, as a mother of two small and time-consuming humans, my notes app is where the seed of an idea is planted, usually onehandedly while I also play with Lego on the floor.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both, I think? When I have something I want to write, or rather, when something is demanding, I write it, I am energized, I cannot type fast enough, I need a secretary to take a letter, I spell things how I feel it and I can write 3000 words breathlessly in an hour. After that, I am spent and I know I will not get to the editing process for another week, while I recuperate.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a manuscript of my upcoming book, The Fourth, a novel about a woman in the throes of a postpartum spiral who decides to kill her husband. That book is calling out to me to be resumed and edited. I also have a collection of short stories that has been patiently waiting for me, but I think they’ll be waiting a little longer.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, because I am yet to establish healthy boundaries with this. I read a really shit one from someone who began the review “I want to word this carefully” and then absolutely did not. That was tough. With The Dead Are Gods, not only is it my debut, it is my memoir about my most cherished friend. It is a true opening of my heart and so any criticism is also a critique of me. It is very personal. I am learning that I cannot please everyone (a lesson I arguably could have learned earlier in life) and that, if I love and stand by my work, that’s all that I can ask.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
What my dear friend Steph told me when I was writing The Dead Are Gods: keep going. Don’t stop writing. It’s ok that you didn’t finish college, its ok that you don’t know how this process goes, take it step by step: Finish the sentence the chapter the book, edit, redraft, edit, redraft. A career is built, it doesn’t pop into existence. Keep building.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
Being cool. Changing diapers, going to the park, taking kids to dance classes and gymnastics. Taking my dog to the beach. I also am the program coordinator at a writer’s residency in Point Reyes Station, CA called the Mesa Refuge, which primarily supports artists writing about climate, food, and social justice.
What are your three favorite things right now?
The Spring blossom in the backyard, the hazelnut croissant from my local Italian bakery Stellina Pronto, My almost-2-year-olds near constant rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
The Jamaican in me feels most at home in sand and sun and sea, so wherever I go I need to hit that in some form. All of my favorite places I have ever visited have been on the continent of Africa. My husband and I went to a tiny island off the coast of the tiny island of Zanzibar, and it was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been. You could walk a mile into the lagoons surrounding it and still only be waist-deep in warm, clear water. The bugs were the size of dinner plates though.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
I love Indian food; London has a great scene for that. Ditto middle eastern food. If I am drinking alcohol, my current order is a French 75, if I am not, a cold Sprite on ice, crushed not cubed.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Prince, Jennifer Coolidge, Amy Winehouse, Josephine Baker, Poly Styrene and (of course) Larissa.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?
A soaring coming-of-age movie, and probably Rosario Dawson.
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
Station Eleven. I haven’t read the book yet but the series stunned me. I think about it on a weekly basis.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
Easy! Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.
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