To celebrate Rebellion being a finalist in the 2006 Best Book Awards, I'm going to be interviewing some of the other writers in the anthology over the next several weeks. This week, I'm so pleased to be kicking it off with Robin Slick, whose marvelous short story, "Daddy Left Me Alone with God," is the lead story in the anthology.
Robin is the author of:
Three Days in New York City, Another Bite of the Apple, and Buenos Noches, Justine, light-hearted erotic comedies published by Phaze Press. Robin's short stories have appeared in print and on the web—everywhere from heady places like In Posse Review and Slow Trains Literary Journal to give-heady places like Clean Sheets. She lives vicariously through her rock star offspring Julie and Eric Slick, who were featured in the Picturehouse Films documentary, Rock School, and are now members of the Adrian Belew Power Trio. Visit her online at www.robinslick.com and www.inherownwrite.blogspot.com.
I know Robin through a writer's group, and she's as funny, pretty, and talented as they come. She's got a fresh naturalness to her prose that's neither pretentious nor pedestrian. It's purely compelling and character-driven, with a deft touch and honesty that elevates it beyond chick-lit or erotica. Though, her erotica is pretty damn steamy, too. So please meet Robin.
1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?
J.D. Salinger and Erica Jong. I'm not going to lie and tell you I read Raymond Carver and Barry Hannah when I was growing up - I didn't even know who they were though of course they are favorites now. I just wish it wasn't too late to be influenced/guided by their voices. But when I was eleven years old and read Catcher in the Rye, I knew at that moment I wanted to be a writer. I was the female Holden. And then I read Fear of Flying when I was around 18 and I thought Oh my god, you can mix literature with sex? Women can write about their affairs with humor and grace? So then I decided I was Erica.
2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?
I guess strengthwise it's my voice and the fact that I can laugh at myself...therefore my characters are usually funny or get themselves in crazy situations. My biggest weakness is that I can't write descriptive passages. Bleh. But maybe it's because I have no patience reading them. Take Alice Munroe. Brilliant, brilliant writer. Wish I could write a short story that even comes close to something she puts out. But oh my god, she can spend pages writing about doilies and china patterns. I want to start screaming: Holy crap, get back to the story! But it's just jealousy. I'm unable to do it myself. It's all I can do to come up for a descriptive phrase when it's cold out other than Oh My God It's Freezing Out Here.
3) You write both erotica and non-erotic pieces. Do you tend to get in the "erotic" frame of mind beforehand, or can some stories just pick up that extra heat along the way?
I cheat when I write erotica. I write a funny chick lit story, get drunk on a bottle of good wine, and go back and add the sex scenes. Both editors I've had at Phaze have sent my original manuscripts back for Three Days in New York City and Another Bite, telling me to add more sex and be more...arghhh...descriptive. I'm going to try something new for the next one, though. I'm gonna get drunk first and have a Neil Gaiman fantasy.
4) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?
I never thought I could be successful at writing and still can't believe people actually buy my books. I thought my friends were just humoring me when they read my work. And when editors take my short stories now, I think to myself "Oh. It's because they like me and think I'm a character, not because I'm brilliant." (I've meet a lot of editors over the past six years through Zoetrope, readings in New York, and my blog). Right now I'm working on the book I've wanted to write my entire life. It's creative non-fiction...a memoir that's highly exaggerated...called Daddy Left Me Alone With God. It's about a baby boomer who refuses to believe she's not a kid anymore -- a woman with a rock and roll groupie past who is now living vicariously through her rock star children. While on tour with them, she meets up with a man she had an affair with when she was seventeen (and he was twenty-seven)...he was a famous rock star then and still is today...and even though she's married now and has given up her wild ways, when these two former lovers meet up now all kinds of crazy things happen... and our heroine must decide if she will finally grow up and come to terms with middle age or take the path she wishes she took with this man twenty five years ago.
5) You also blog. Do you think this helps inspire your books, or are the two unrelated?
Ugh. My blog. I am as addicted to blogging as I've ever been to any drug. Wait. I wasn't really ever addicted to any drug...bad analogy. Ahem. Anyway, no, blogging doesn't inspire my writing at all. It takes the place of my real writing, damn it. Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't be happier as a non fiction columnist. All the energy I used to pour into my writing at 5:00 a.m. every morning I now spend blogging. But here's the thing. I've met people from all over the world via my blog, even some major celebrities are daily readers (they email me!)...and once when I said I was thinking of ending the blog because of the time drain, I literally got around 500 emails from as far away as Norway and Japan, begging me not to stop. So like, I have this ego, you know? And now I can't only not stop blogging, I feel the need to be "fabulous" every day in said blog. Ack! Now today I have nothing new to report in my blog (which is rare) and I'm miserable. That's just not right. Luckily I have this interview with you to do or I'd be eating a dozen donuts for breakfast in frustration.
6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?
Ooh, I want both. I want dinner with an alive Neil Gaiman because I'm currently infatuated with him in every way possible. Christ. He's even got me reading his graphic novels right now. Who'd have thunk it. Dead...John Lennon. I've said this before but John is the closest thing I've ever had to a hero. My blog is named for John's incredible book of prose poetry -- In His Own Write.
7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?
The CD will probably surprise you, but it's by a band called Savoy Brown and it's called "Raw Sienna". It's 36 years old and every time I listen to it, I still get the chills. It's music to write to, music to have sex to...music that makes my soul rise. The book would have been Catcher in the Rye but since I've read it a thousand times, I'm gonna switch gears and get in another Gaiman plug...Smoke and Mirrors, his collection of short stories. Oh crap. Maybe I'd take his new one, Fragile Things. Or American Gods. Can you tell I have a a problem right now? Ick. I'm a middle aged groupie. Someone gag me. Please. DVD? A Clockwork Orange. Hands down my favorite movie ever.
8) You're going to be editing a book. What made you decide to take the leap from writing to editing?
Ha ha - I didn't. My publisher asked me. We were kicking around ideas for anthologies, and as you know, Phaze does erotica, paranormal stuff...we're all over the place. So some of the fantasy analogies being discussed didn't appeal to me...then I got the idea for sex over forty since, um, that's what I relate to these days and I just happen to be working on a novel with that theme as discussed above...and I have a short story I've been working on that's an out-take from the book. So when I suggested that anthology, I got a private off-list email asking me How would you like to edit it...and include your own story of course..and also be in charge of the selections? I mean, how could I turn that down? I'm currently going after a big name author for this, too, so Susan, I'm hoping you submit to this as well because as you know, I think your writing really rocks.
Also, and don't let this get out or everyone and their mother from Zoetrope will start emailing me, but I love to edit other writers' works. Well, good writers, that is. I edited two lit mags before I got burnt out...then Phaze asked me to edit one of their books and when I didn't say no, they started sending me more, and before I knew it, I'm on their payroll as an editor. I'm really enjoying myself. I just wish I could see the obvious errors in my own work the way I can pick them out instantly in the works of others.
9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?
Bestselling with the fat coin. D'oh, that's a no brainer. I'm never going to have respect and critical acclaim. I'm too raw and I am so far from being literary it's not even funny. I want enough money to travel all around the world every year and own real estate in the UK. All kidding aside, I just want to write. Very few writers earn enough to do it full time. So yeah, I want the fat coin so that I can just sit at my computer and write what I want and not worry that they are going to turn off my electricity. As far as fame goes, that I can live without. I'm a loner who interacts very well on the computer but in the real world, I'm the one who hides in the corner at parties and gets drunk in an effort to be sociable, only to run to the bathroom and throw up once I have more than three drinks. And then I spend the next week under the covers in bed agonizing about what a fool I made of myself and how I'm never going out in public again.
Thanks for taking the time to do this, Robin.
And, of course, along with Robin's novels, you can also find her in the Rebellion anthology, available at Rebel's website or via Amazon.
Next week, I'll have a little chat with the charming Rebel Myfanwy Collins.