Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Q&A with Ariel Gore~

Continued from Monday...

Which of your books was the easiest/hardest to write? Why?
My novel, The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, and my memoir,
Atlas of the Human Heart, were by far the most challenging. Nonfiction
books have their own challenges, but the artistic challenge of a novel/
memoir is something deeper, something can really take a lot out of you.

Which of your books is your favorite? Why?

Same answer as above, I think. Though I do love How to Become a Famous
Writer Before You're Dead, too! When The Mother Trip first came out,
that seemed to hit a nerve and help a lot of people, so that was my
favorite then. I want to write the kinds of books that make people
feel less alone / more expansive.

What to you read? What authors are your favorite?
Right now I read a lot of my students work! Lucky for me, they are
good, but I want more time to read other authors. I love Murakami,
Rudolfo Anaya I am reading now, Armistead Maupin, Kate Bornstein, so

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?
Oh - hah! - never thought of that. Could I be a screenwriter?

If you were to do your career, your life as an author again, what
would you do differently, and why?

Well, maybe I wouldn't have been a woman because we make less money,
and so have to do more other things, more of the kind of writing that
pays women, too, it's not bad writing, but you have fewer choices if
you're trying to support a family and be an artist at the same time.
Or maybe I would have been a part-time economist, or something cool
and interesting that makes enough money in 10-20 hours a week. And
then I wouldn't have to depend on the writing to pay the rent. But - I
like my life how it is. I don't wish it different. I even, for the
record, like being a woman, in spite of the pay cut.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing? When you were young and friends, family, colleagues were your only editors, how much weight did their suggestions receive?
Oh, I know I am not supposed to read them or act like a baby when they
say bad things about me, but I am basically a big baby. It doesn't
really affect the way I write, it just makes me feel like a loser.
When I was a kid my mom was my #1 critic. She was a major critic of my
work as a young adult, too, just really ripping it apart and making me
feel like a piece of monkey puke. She is a visual artist and very
smart and beautiful, so I took that negativity on for a long time. I
believed her feedback because it was always couched in a kind of "I'm
only telling you this for your own good." I never have come to
understand why she responded that way to my work, but I think I am
growing up about that and learning not to take it on / take it
personally. A lot of times when people are very critical -- well, it's
about them, it's not about us. And -- either way -- I am trying to get
out of this whole "good art" / "bad art" thing. The making of the art
is what's important, not whether anybody "likes" it. I guess that is a
kind of classical woman thing, too. We want to be liked and, by
extension, we want people to like the artifacts of our creative
process -- but in reality it's the process that makes our lives better.

Do you find your Zine and blogging interfere or attempt to replace novel development?
Sure. Everything can interfere! I think for a novel or a book-length
memoir, it's pretty hard to develop those when you've got a lot of
other things--particularly a lot of other writing projects--going on.
Sometimes you have to figure out how to have an internet-free retreat
to really get started.

Have you ever written anything that you thought would be
Controversial and found it wasn't? Vice versa?

Mostly I have written a lot about my life that I couldn't IMAGINE
would be controversial. And yet it often is -- I think any person
living a creative life outside of heteronormative blah-de-blah is
still controversial, sadly.

Which question are you most sick of answering in interviews?
Heh. How did you start Hip Mama? I actually think that's an important
story, how to take charge of your own publishing destiny and provide a
forum marginalized voices, but it is a story I have told. Maybe I
should just find a version and cut & paste when people ask. Because,
like I said, I think it's important.

What is your opinion on the self-publishing, vanity publishers, traditional, etc... mixed emotions that live among the writing industry right now?
Self publishing yes! Micropublishing yes! I think "vanity publishing"
is kind of a label to make self-publishing authors feel bad. But if it
connotes an over-priced printer, then I vote no!

Thank you Ariel for fresh, honest answers...and nothing of the bland or blanket variety!
As promised, a copy of Ariel Gore's novel, Bluebird:Women and the New Psychology of Happiness will be presented to the first reader to post the correct answer to this question: According to a San Jose periodical, what specifically do Ariel Gore and Jerry Garcia have in common?

I love this!! I feel like Alex Trebek!!! Good luck!!


  1. I've gotten rid of TV, but I can't get rid of internet for my jobs, so I definitely relate to the internet free retreat desire!

  2. For me, a week locked in a remote cabin with my laptop sounds like heaven. I could easily do without Internet or TV to work on my novel. Just try me.

  3. Oh, I'm write with Sarah on the retreat with my laptop. Unfortunately I don't think my family would go for that, and when I returned home, I'd probably spend the next week with no writing time because I'd be so busy cleaning up the mess everyone made while I was gone.

    Maybe in a couple years, after the kids are older . . . :-)

  4. Ariel & Jerry? What don't they have in common? Kidding...
    I'm guessing it is Palo Alto- hometown- or that they attended P.A. High School...

  5. You were both raised in Palo Alto.

  6. They both have a group that will follow them anywhere!

  7. Well better late than never right?? Sorry all... the last time I checked, I hadn't seenthe Palo Alto comments, then I moved and well, no interesting excuses..just the usual!! LOL. Anyway, the newspaper story where I found this actually noted them as 'Famous People from Palo Alto.' Hilarious. Anyway, I have decided to send free copies of Bluebird to Sarcastinacal AND Yoga Girl! Now how do I go about doing that? Message me?? Thanks guys!!! You will love reading Ariel Gore! :)
    This is Anonymous Cherilyn.... ugh