The last interview! Maybe? Well, here it is!
Please tell us about the zines you’ll be tabling at ABQZF.
I'm tabling zines from my Mocha Chocolata Momma series-- zines about the lives of black women, real and imagined. There are three in the series so far-- I want to make my own personal encyclopedia out of this series, eventually! I'm also tabling a new zine-- Resting Bicycle Face, about riding a bike as my main mode of transportation. I've been riding almost a year now...
When did you make your first zine, and what was it about?
I made my first zine five years ago. I mean, I have always been a writer-- but I've also found it hard to find the form I feel most free in. Zines make me feel free. My first zine was Prague: a fucked-up travelogue. Well, it was the best of times, and the suckiest of times. I reissued that zine recently, which was a bit of a challenge. The zine is about my first trip to Europe, in 2001. I sat on that story for a long time-- and making a zine out of it helped me move beyond the hard parts of the journey. I learned to laugh about it.
Name three influences in your life that have affected your work, or even how you work.
Mmmm. Okay. Robert Louis Stevenson. Robert Louis Stevenson. Robert Louis Stevenson. Awe man-- we hang out all the time. I dream about him-- he worries about me. I am inspired by his wanderlust-- the man was ill his entire life, but still managed to live a life full of adventure. He wrote for pleasure, and he wrote to get PAID-- and I can't tell the difference entirely-- because I think he truly loved distilling his thoughts into words. He was not the average 19th Century man.
The way he lived influences me, and I like living-- so I've been doing Stevensonian things like using what-if as my prompt, and then peeling back the beautiful and the horrible layers. Going on an adventure to lands where I am lost, on a tiny island in driving ice-rain. His work is only cliche if you've not read him- The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a truly terrifying and beautiful thing. . . I've written songs based on some of his poems. I tweet things he has said, like a beacon signaling from his final resting place. I'm thinking of him as I get ready to start writing this Gothic novel that's been rummaging through my grey matter for a while. What-if . . . what-if . . .
PS-- I write like Hemingway-- I stand up. I treat writing like a sport-- sometimes I stand at the computer or the typewriter or the pen and paper (the scariest, to me) and shadow box.
What do you say when someone asks you, "What are zines?"
I usually freeze and stare at them like, WTF?! I always hope they answer their own question. I flash on every pamphlet and parchment that ever endured ink and saying "like a magazine" feels so diminishing. I also say, "Uuuuuuuuuuh."
Do you have a zine crush? If so, are you willing to reveal the object of your zine affection?
I can't stop staring at this tiny zine by Amber Dearest- Kurt Cobain was a Feminist #1. It's so small and English et Francais but feisty like a teacup chihuahua. I'm also in love with this comp zine of drawings and collages by twenty artists- all of Yoko Ono. It's called Hey Lady. There's a large pinback button on the outside. My copy is #24 out of #50. My birthday is on the 24th-- this zine was given to me, randomly-- in truth, because I say it in the back seat of a car in Portland and I squealed. It's MINE.
What's the most challenging thing about zine making? What do you enjoy most about the process?
Most challenging is GETTING IT DONE. I get stuck on IS THIS GOOD, or WHY am I CHARGED with doing this? Isn't there anyone else who . . . then I start writing and I don't want to stop. This Dorothy Dandridge zine has been eating my lunch for almost two years. Her story makes me so said though! Then, I watch the biopic Shonda Rhimes made in the 90s, with Halle Berry as Ms. Dandridge, and my heart breaks all over again. I want vindication for Dorothy.
Why are zines important?
Zines are the scouts of your heart -- the first wing flaps that echo the things in your mind, Zines are figure heads on ships-- sometimes. Something forced forward, driving, leaving without you. Zines can lead the way to something bigger inside you-- maybe a series. Maybe there's a book underneath that zine you wrote. Or maybe that ship has sailed. But you did it- -you have this paperwork that was a pleasure and a struggle to produce. To me zines can also be like an article of clothing you're never seen without. People know that's YOU in there. I used to wear this cotton scarf everywhere-- it was black with white stars, but ended up grey with ghost stars, fraying and unraveling. A friend of mine was convinced I was hiding an open wound for years, like Lancelot or something. Zines can be like a journey, traveling on an open-ended ticket.
Thanks, Marya . . .