How would you describe yourself?
A writer. Loopy. Amused. Obsessed. A teacher. A dreamer.
In what part of the world are you located?
Lebowski Land AKA Albany. I am pleased to be here, but we all know I should be in London and I will be.
What don’t people know about you that they ought to know?
That I became a confident, assertive woman mostly by pretending to be a confident assertive woman. Vonnegut’s words echo in my brain always: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful about what we pretend to be.”
What are you most proud of having accomplished so far?
I gots a PhD. I have a long list of publications most of which make me proud. I have become confident and assertive. I have a good job. I’m getting better at living happily now.
What ambitions do you have ahead of you?
To have a play on in the West End and a BBC radio show — which I will enjoy from my flat in London — and about a million other things. I am chock full of ambitions for my writing.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
The lovely one given by Danny Fingeroth when we were together on a panel at PCA in San Diego (he was a special guest). I gave a paper on Alan Moore that was really more of a performance piece. Danny went after me and started by saying something along the lines of, “This is like trying to follow Frank Sinatra with ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'” — it remains Best. Compliment. Ever. Though I really love seeing students leave comments on evaluations like “Beowulf ROCKS!”
If something great happens to you, how do you celebrate?
Champers, friends and good food.
What’s your best method for coping with stress?
Meditation and writing, although venting to friends is very important, too.
What makes you laugh?
Peter Cook. Oh sure, I love the Pythons, AbFab, Eddie Izzard, Morecombe & Wise, Dylan Moran, Arrested Development and the Simpsons, but nothing beats Peter Cook.
What makes you cry?
Anger and frustration; classic weepies like Now, Voyager.
What do you love?
In addition to the obvious people (who know who they are and know how grateful I am to have them in my life) and my Kipper, I love writing, music, theatre, art, laughing out loud, stretching my brain, Belgian beer, cold vodka, Indian food, and words words words.
What do you loathe?
Abuse of power. Lack of imagination or generosity or curiosity. Blind obedience. Obstinacy. Small spirits.
Intelligence and a sense of humour – either without the other is useless; people who burn with the fire to create.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” For many years I was terrified of failing. It’s still hard for me, but I have finally begun to realise that without throwing yourself into the possibility you will never really accomplish anything worthwhile. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
How should people be spending their money?
Of course they ought to be buying my books! I should have the proof of Unikirja this week, hurrah. I also think it’s great to support groups like Kiva and Water Partners because they go to the root of the problems of poverty unlike many paternalistic organizations, helping women and children who make up most of the poor worldwide.
Which woman/women have inspired you?
My wonderful wonderful friends, many of whom have been featured here this month. The handful of very good teachers I had growing up (off the top of my head, Mrs Vance, Ms Seltzer, Ms Shapiro…more! but I’m having a hard time dredging up the names although I can see the faces). Medieval women like Hrotsvit, Marie de France, Margery Kempe, Anna Bijns, Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as later writers like Aphra Behn, Jane Austen, Lady Montagu, Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontës, Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Lynda Barry, Liz Hand, Storm Constantine, Octavia Butler and a thousand more. All funny women! My mom who instilled me with a belief that I could do more. My Aunt Fanny who was a woman ahead of her time. Many of my students (especially at UHD), many of my colleagues, and all of my friends. So many!
If I gave you a million dollars, what would you do?
Buy a flat in London and pay off my debts.
A giant-sized “Thank you!” to everyone who participated in this month-long celebration. I am stunned by the amazing qualities of the women I know, their fearlessness and their good humour in the midst of many struggles. So many of you were so self-effacing (“oh, I’m so boring” or “my answers won’t be interesting”), but you all helped demonstrate the incredible web of women that are linked solely by knowing one person. And with luck, more of you know each other now!
We all have a web like that. You only need look around to see it. We are all fortunate to share such networks, although they’re easy to take for granted. In the last couple years I have learned just how important that web can be as a safety net. I am grateful to you all, more than I can say. I love you. Thank you so much!