Thursday, October 14, 2010

...And We're Back!

What happened here? 
I'll tell you what. I went to Burning Man, I turned 31, I started a PhD program in Comparative Literature at UC Riverside, and my novel came out.

That's right, folks. Remember a few months ago when I was writing
about how I think self-publishing is a potential vanguard movement for fiction writers? Well, click here and visit A Crack in Everything at I hope you're inspired to support me when you do.

If you live anywhere near LA, come join me at the book events!

I've been going a little crazy reading heavy lit theory for many hours of the day, and then spending my "free time" trying to do marketing. I've designed purple underwear with "There is A Crack in Everything" printed on the butt. I've made custom condoms with the phrase "Even though there's A Crack in Everything" printed on them. (The novel is about a sex educator). I've bought a huge mounted poster of the cover to set in an easel at events. It's nuts, really, how much time, money, and energy can go into a project like this--I could be promoting full time, if I wanted to. Instead, I'm going to cut and paste the back cover copy of the book here and then write about the problem of "autobiographical fiction."

So here's what the back of the book says: 

Twenty-five-year-old Tamina is a sharp-witted Jersey girl living in Hollywood with a near-phobic response to mismatching colors, an addiction to pedicures, and a hectic job teaching comprehensive sex education to urban youth. Suffering the consequences of a violent assault, Tam looks for relief in romance and LA's underground erotic entertainment scene. However, when Tam's young attacker unexpectedly resurfaces among a crowd of drag queens, porn stars, and musicians, Tam finally must make real choices. Fear or confrontation. Cynicism or curiosity. Silence or honesty. It would be surreal, if it wasn't LA.

Nearly everyone who's read the novel so far has wondered, "How much of Tamina is you?" and I'd like to answer this question once and for all.

Some. Some of her is me. Most of her is not me.

The truth is, I had a lot more in common with Tamina, in temperament, when I began the book. Her politics are my politics. Her experiences are not really my experiences. Her life is fiction. Her emotional problems resonate with me, and that's why I wrote them. Beginning six years ago.

Tamina is stressed out. She's anxious a lot of the time. She has a hard time telling people the abject honest truth about how she feels because she's afraid of being rejected. I used to feel this way a lot more often than I do now. It was freeing to me to write this character, because once I'd exposed some of these emotional realities I was more able to address them. Granted, they haven't gone away. But I don't worry as much about how people are perceiving me, and I would like to thank Tamina for that. She took some of the burden from me, I think.

In addition, this is a sexy novel--there's a very erotic scene about 2/3 of the way through, in addition to sexual tension between many of the characters, and I've already been fielding questions about whether the sex scene came from my imagination or my experience. So I'll answer that question, too. Both.

I think that Americans are obsessed with historicity, memoir, and "what really happened." I'm bored by the constant pursuit of an objective past truth or a pure memory, when it comes to literature. I believe that the desire to figure out the exact inspiration for any piece of fiction is a deadly moment--it's a way to kill the creative potential in reading. It's a way to fix a book in a particular point, instead of allowing it a spinning, fluid, expansive life of inspiring people. Sometimes authors have fantastically exciting stories about the origin of a book. But often the reading of a book is a truly creative act on the part of the reader, and too much interference from an author can be restrictive, I think.

I'm actually lucky that I'm self-publishing in an age when authors have to be visible. I'm young, I'm blonde, and I'm extroverted. There was a time when those things would not matter nearly as much as they do now. If I were shy this whole business would be more stressful than an MRI for a claustrophobic.

So I rumble along, trying to figure out the machinery of promotion. I try not to be too insanely attached to any particular outcome for A Crack in Everything, and just be grateful that its got a physical form. Because holding it in my hands, after all this time, is a pleasure of nearly transcendent character.


  1. I think you have one of those go back on time devices Hermione uses in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There is no other explanation for the work you get done.

  2. Can you describe the exact moment you decided to be artist so I can replicate it down the most minute details in my own life? If yes, then please break it into bullet points. If no, why not? If maybe, when will I get a straight answer? If the answer is both yes AND no, does this represent an artistic choice, i.e. a character with motivation intentionally divided by you; OR does it represent an oversight on your part, i.e. actions which the remainder of your cannon must include, but which might hurt continuity at a later time? You have fifteen seconds to comply. If you choose not to respond, an answer will be assigned to you.

  3. Congratulations, Vanessa.

    I've been on the verge of taking Secret Speakers to one of the Big 5, but after reading your post, I just might choose to stay at the vanguard of self-published fiction writers. Thank you for the nudge.

    Bless you in your efforts to get it out there you young, blonde, and extroverted girl.