Welcome to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?
Well, I started writing comments on a very popular website. People thought they were funny. The editors thought I was funny. And it occurred to me…am I a writer? Like, a writer-writer? I’d always loved it in school, but never considered committing to it. But, high on internet praise, I wrote a story. Then, a novella. Finally, a novel, and yay, now I’m here! In the wilds of mid-list-dom.
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
I’m always a pantser (seat-of-my-pants). I have a general idea of where I’m going, but sometimes my pesky heroines get wild ideas and run amok. Who am I to stop them? I write whenever my life will allow it, and I keep going until my butt screams from being sat on too long.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
My debut novel is Lyssa Strata, a modern retelling of the classic comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes. The last decade has proven that, far from being relegated to the past, misogyny is loud and proud among us, and I got to wondering…what would happen if women just…quit? That led further to thinking about my man Aristophanes and his “solution” to the battle of the sexes—a sex strike! What would that look like in modern times? How would the internet fuel that sort of thing? Would the world react positively? (Ha!) Negatively? (Oh, you know it.) Yet, the place where people come back together, to learn from one another when they’re at odds—that’s where the book sits. It’s not an “I hate men” rant. It’s an “I want everyone to be treated with dignity and respect” story. And maybe a “sex striking is really hard, especially around cute boys. Heh heh—hard” book. Hey, it’s a comedy about sex, you know there are anatomical puns in there. You’ve been warned.
Here's the blurb for Lyssa Strata:
She's mad as hell, and she's not gonna give it up anymore.
Librarian Lyssa Strata has long begged the Town Council of Athena, Massachusetts, to repeal its disgusting old misogynist and racist laws. But the Council, an all-male entity for 400 years, has blown her off as a redheaded spinster—who, according to a 1673 law, should legally be run out of town at the end of a musket upon a poor fiscal year. So Lyssa seeks to invade the male bastion as the first woman ever on the Council. The men in charge treat her candidacy as a hilarious joke, which does not impress the female townsfolk.
The women are damn tired of being second-class citizens. For example, it’s illegal for them to use a toaster, as the manipulation of buttons is thought to impede brainwaves and cause menstruation. They decide to wield the only power left to them: Lyssa leads them on a sex strike as a revolt against inequality. The fellas are enthusiastic supporters! LOL no, they protest and issue death threats. Yet, when the national news shows up to cover the contentious election, everyone finally starts to listen to the ladies.
In retaliation against the motley crew of sex-strikers, the Council enacts the antique laws they assured Lyssa were merely charming historical trivia. She is accused of witchcraft and thrown in the stocks! Now this bookish dork, once content to hide in the stacks and distribute quiet feminism via checkout, is burning down her torture device and sending the evils of the past to the dustbin. When you want something done, do it yourself.
Or don’t do it—they’re on a sex strike, after all.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Temperance Dare, 80-year-old daredevil—emphasis on devil—queen of the BINGO set, proud Trans woman, secretly mushy married lady, and badass extraordinaire. She’s my favorite, and was so friggin’ fun to write! At the very beginning, I knew I wanted a Trans woman character front and center, to make it very clear that when I say “women are on a sex strike,” I mean all women. As I was writing, she seemed to want to jump into a ton of scenes, stirring up trouble, giving the middle finger to the law, and spiking the punch with liquors that don’t necessarily go together. She’s basically who I want to grow old to be.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
The subject of this book is controversial for a lot of folks. I felt a great responsibility to present my ideas with care, balance from different sides, and while considering other opinions than my own. How do we really change someone’s mind, especially when it’s backed by centuries of worldwide misogyny? How do you change it not only in men, but in women as well? Internalized misogyny is a helluva drug.
I don’t know if I achieved world peace, but I sure did try in the funniest way possible. In the end, however, there’s no doubt that Lyssa Strata is a women’s empowerment novel—with quite a few dirty jokes thrown in. Come for the titillating talk, stay for the love for all humankind!
What projects are you currently working on?
My next book is called Attack of the Rom-Com, and it will be released by Humorist Books in early 2022. It’s a about the least frou-frou-ey, rom-com-ey lady in the world being kidnapped in, your guessed it, a rom-com. Here’s the blurb:
Proud misanthrope Sophie Sweet is trapped in a magical rom-com of the teenage hi-jinks variety. And the pretty princess kind. Wait—Jane Austen old tymey shit, too? None of these calamities would have happened if Sophie hadn’t mocked Tiffani the Psychic, but how else to convince a heroine made of barbed wire that true love really is for everyone?
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
Write for yourself, first and always.
Publishing is hard. Head-banging, gut-twisting, hair-tearing hard. You’ll hear so many more “no”s than “yes”es. The only way to truly last and thrive is to write what you love, even if it takes a while for others to catch your wavelength. I’m considered a bit of a weirdo—A woman writing comedies for other women?! Quelle horreur!—but I found my publisher and my readers, as I knew I would. If you stay true to what’s in your heart, you will, too. Now get that ass in the chair and write! Oh, and Cheeze-Its are a power food.