Sunday, September 10, 2006

amy guth :: the interview

forgive the lack of images. I am having an upload photo issue. blogger's being cunty.

If you haven’t heard of Amy Guth or read her, you will. She’s a dark, gritty writer with one hell of a point of view. A true woman’s woman. Fearless and talented. Smart and funny. So, of course her first novel, Three Fallen Women is being hailed by critics as a thought-provoking and gripping read. Gorgeously twisted, sexy and earnest. Touching and terrifying. Demented and ferociously dark.

So.... Here she is:: Amy Guth, The Wise Crackin’ Feminist behind, Three Fallen Women


If you want to know about Amy, just ask her. Anything. I did and here is what I learned:

1. Is there a woman in your family you admire? If so, who, and why?

All of them are pretty salt-of-the-earth, really. I've always felt a really special bond with my Aunt Gwen, though. She lives in a funky house in the woods and always let me run wild with my creativity and made me believe in the feasibility of nonsense and impossible things. She pointed out a lot of great books to me early on in my life, too. I can probably give her a lot of credit in terms of my voice as a writer.

2. I fear that feminism on any level is a "dying breed". Do you think there is any truth to that? If so, what kind of women are "we" raising? If not, what's your take on teen girls and college girls today?

I worry about that, too. I see girls, and I mean really young girls, who are sexualized so young and who carry this false sense of empowerment-- it's the "Girl Power" thinking that is so ridiculous because it crosses into this really dangers and terrible "men/boys are worthless so I'll just use them" vibe that is really frustrating. I don't hear a lot of dialogue going on about going out and making a badass life for ourselves, but I hear about gold diggers constantly, so it's frustrating.

3. What are your three favorite foods?

Only three? Potato anything-- potato curry, potato salad, fries, hash browns, those lebanese lemon-pomegranate-butter potato things, baked potatoes. I love steamed broccoli, too, isn't that weird? I love it. And, anyone that can whip up a good General Tso's tofu is a friend of mine.

4. What is your favorite television guilty pleasure?

Oh man. I love human train wrecks, but only from afar. So, crap like Celeb-reality shows and Cheaters-- it's terrible, but I get stuck on them and almost mesmerized by how fucking crazy and shallow and thoughtless people can be. Ohh, and CourtTV gross-out forensics shows, too. I think that sort of thing is just endlessly fascinating.

5. You refer to yourself as an anti-socialite, why is this?

It started as a nickname someone left in the comments section of my blog and it somehow stuck around. I like it fine enough, though. I mean, I think about the social climbing debutante crowd and, well, thanks but no thanks. So, I suppose it is a suitable title.

6. You write an ongoing column for Outcry Magazine called, eleutheromaniac, meaning, mad for freedom. Can you please explain your definition of being mad for freedom and the role it plays in your life and your work?

I go here a bit in Three Fallen Women, actually. I find disconnect and self-imposed slavery, if you will, endlessly interesting. Tragic, but interesting. I just think it's outrageous the amount of drama and nonsense and uproar people will manifest in their own lives to avoid dealing with themselves. Lately, I've been writing a bit about clutter and hyper-consumerism, and it's totally the same root issue. Why deal with yourself and sort yourself out when you can just fill every corner of your home with cheap, plastic crap, right? Bleh. I can't function like that. But, I know people who create all sorts of things like that-- roadblocks for themselves-- to avoid moving forward, professionally, emotionally, personally, romantically, financially. All sorts of ways.

7. What does a socio-feminist mean to you?

I started using that for a couple of reasons. Mostly because in this weird "girls rule boys drool" surface stuff we have going on a lot lately, a lot of people have lost sight of the fact that feminism means human equality, not destruction of men. So, tacking on "socio" sort of stirs questions, I think. But, also, it’s a bit literal. I write about things I see happening in the world that don't necessarily have anything to do with feminism or gender roles. I examine these issues, but how can I not process things through a feminist filter?

8. Who inspired you to write?

Music did and still does. A certain song might catch me on just the right day in just the right way and I'll put it on repeat and go. I wrote Three Fallen Women like that. One song, over and over for months, then a second song again and again for six weeks or so, then a third song for the polishing I did just before feeling good about sharing it.

9. Who are your favorite writers?

Tom Robbins is my favorite without a doubt. I read Skinny Legs and all and I thought my head would explode. I love Chuck Palahnuik, ad Johnathan Franzen, too. I read a lot, but I have been in a heavy non-fiction reading phase lately. It lights a lot more curiosity sparks in my head than fiction does, generally.

10. When did you know you wanted to work as a writer?

I had this little blue plastic typewriter when I was a little girl, I think my dad gave it to me, and I used to sit there and meticulously type out a little newspaper every week, so I think I've always been a writer. I just get my thoughts out best in writing.

11. Were you a writer for Second City?

I went through the Second City Training Center's Conservatory program for improv comedy and for sketch writing. I hooked up with improv groups around then and wrote with some, performed with some and wrote within the training center on a few shows.

12. What made you stop doing improv and comedy?

Nothing really. I took time off and stepped away and traveled and floated around to have the mental space to write because I needed to step away in order to construct all of that. My essay work is still largely humor based, just because I think you reach more people that way, and as for improv, I'm still open to the right situation. It's terribly fun and keeps me from shifting into "leave the writer alone" gear and staying there too long.

About Three Fallen Women:

13. Your book, three fallen women; the book those critics can't stop swooning over. Congratulations! That's first and foremost. What was the impetus for this book? The moment you finished writing the final page, the final sentence, the last word, how were you different from the day you first sat down to write it?

Thank you! It's all going really well and I've been having so much fun. I wrote Three Fallen Women at a time when I was seeing a few people around me unable or unwilling to enforce their personal boundaries in various ways. I think most of us learn this lesson through trial and error, sure, but suddenly I was noticing a lot of people who didn’t seem to have a grasp in that direction at all. The more I saw this, the more I started noticing things people were enslaved to. Food, pain, drama, clutter, money, misery, people, rotten partners—it was everywhere! So, I ended up writing a lot about the freedom that comes from setting boundaries and practicing self-reliance and ended up doing it through the mouthpiece of these characters. As for finishing it up, I felt-- I don't know if this even makes sense-- I felt whole in the way that you feel when you clean off your desk before starting a big project. I just felt relieved to have gotten it all out and ready for the next phase of it.

14. How long did it take you to get, Three Fallen Women written?

I banged it all out in about six months, but it took me another eighteen months to be happy with it and stop playing around with it and moving things around and rewriting before I started putting it out into the world.

15. How long did it take you to get, Three Fallen Women sold?

Not long at all once I was ready to let it go and put it out there. That's the thing; a lot of people have asked me how to be a writer. I mean, that's so loaded! Writing isn’t necessarily enjoyable, its more something you have to do. The other half of being a writer is to get your writing out into the world. I know some wonderful but frustrated writers who just aren't ready to put it out there, unfortunately.

16. What is, Three Fallen Women about?

It's about three women, none of them connected other than thematically, who has all reached very dire situations-- addiction/recovery, sexuality, an abusive partner, personal identity-- and are just trying to figure out the next step.

17. What do you want women to take from this book? What do you want readers in general to take from this book?

It's funny, because everyone who reads it thinks it is about something a little different. I feel like it is about boundaries and crossroads and the extreme situations that arise from not asserting and enforcing your boundaries. But, some people think it's about identify crisis, others think it's about gender identity, so I feel like it has the ability to be a very personal book in that way. Maybe readers will take from the book what is on their own radar at the time.

19. Will there be a sequel to three fallen women?

Probably not, but never say never. I actually did leave a lot of loose ends with minor characters, so I have thought about connecting minor characters to major characters in other novels. I think it'll be a matter of wait and see.

20. What are you working on now?

I've already started my next novel. It's coming alarmingly fast and I really found my footing in it right away, which felt good and comforting to return to after being in writerly business/editorial mode for the past few months. I recently heard writing described as a disease and find that so fitting. This affliction wakes you up in the middle of the night (Pretty often in my case) and makes you preoccupied as you go about your day and exists as a must and not an option at all. It feels sometimes like I can't do anything else when I deny myself that outlet. Sorry, that was a tangent. I'm working on the next manuscript and fucking loving it, that's for sure, and putting out the regular essay work, I think with an eye of forming some new working relationships.

21. how does living in Chicago inspire your writing?

I've lived all over the place. I find Chicago to be very diverse and livable and accessible. I moved to Chicago from New York City in about five years ago and really enjoy it. It's urban and stimulating and offers intellectual stimulation and multi-culturalism and a low-key kind of lifestyle, in comparison, that suits me well, I think.

Getting Dishy with Amy:

1. If you've read my Blog, you know that I'm a huge fan of the word, "cunt." what do you think about this word?

I love the word "cunt" and use it often, sometimes in conjunction with other words to make new new terms, like "cunt rag" and "cunting whore". I think any word only holds the charge you give it, or take from it, so I'm all for using the word "cunt". Totally.

2. Women like Anne Coulter and Laura Schlessinger give vaginas a bad name. they don't seem to understand that the women's movement, something they vehemently oppose is the very reason their voices can be heard. What do you think about that? Also, about Anne and Laura's impact on women today?

Oy, those two. You know it's this thing that always gets me. CONstructive versus DEstructive. And both of them are so destructive in their words and actions and that's just a lot of negativity to sling around much less carry around. I just feel like it's easier to be positive and support the people you feel are doing positive things in the world rather than just trying to block people who do things differently. It's frustrating. I worry about that kind of thing impacting people negatively because people are so bandwagonish and so into sound bites these days, which I find totally absurd. We have more access to research now than ever, ever before and it seems like we give a shit about fact-checking and thinking about the whole issue less and less when it would be so easy to do a little research and be able to wrap your head around something and have time to consider it. Bandwagonism makes me really crazy.

1) If I want you to sign my book, where can I catch you in the next few weeks?

Check the events page on guthagogo.com. I'm always updating it as events come in. The Reading Grounds in Omaha. The Omaha Lit Fest and Vegetarian Eats In A Bratwurst Town in Chicago are the next stops coming up.

2) Is there a quote you live by, and if so, what is it?

I go with the Cure's "Just Say Yes" lately, because I think it's easier and more interesting to be open to things as they pop up instead of resisting and being inflexible. Just say yes. Yeah.

--
Amy Guth's Blog
Amy Guth's Website

3 comments:

AL said...

i'm glad to see you aren't blogging this weekend....

José Alberto Mostardinha said...

Hello:

The blog Estados Gerais (General States) await your visit and comment on this day that the world cannot forget.

greetings,

yournamehere said...

As someone who finds the word "cunt" and people's reaction to it hilarious, I really enjoyed that interview.

 

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