Hey Julia! Can you tell us about your upcoming book, Tonight, and Other Stories about New York City? Oh, it’s fantastic! It’s a collection of short stories that take place in New York City, with a sex and drugs and dance music mystery novella capping it off. Covering the city from Central Park to Coney Island, it’s full of fun, unique characters, and stories that run the gamut from first love to domestic abuse and everything in between.
What inspired you to write this collection? I wanted to write a collection of short stories and needed a theme to keep me focused, something to connect the stories to each other, and I love to write about the city—so many possibilities! I’m actually packaging myself as a New York Writer, whatever that means exactly.
Do you have a publisher for it? Nope. Presently seeking agent…
What do you do when you are not writing? Whatever my cats tell me to.
What writers do you admire? Oscar Wilde, Anaïs Nin, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker…
What is the main message in your work? That everyone is equal and unique, that anyone can feel okay about life if they learn how, and a happy ending is always possible.
Do you have the key to happiness? Yes, as it happens I do.
And would you care to share your insight? I don’t need your sarcasm. You need to be compassionate towards yourself and others, plan instead of worry, deal with your own emotions and responses instead of trying to change those of others. You need to assume best intent, and share your feelings and opinions honestly. Your happiness is totally under your control—it’s all in the way you look at life at any given moment.
Interesting. Where can I buy your work? Go buy Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 now at http://www.amazon.com/Best-Lesbian-Erotica-Kathleen-Warnock/dp/1573447528/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313811396&sr=8-1
So you write erotica? I have written erotica, but it’s far from all I write. I just had the luck that my first story published in a book was an erotic one, and now half the people I know think I only write erotica. Even my mother thought that for a while.
What’s your experience with book tours? So far I’ve done three readings in New York City for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012; at KGB Bar, Bluestockings books, and the LGBT Center. Reading my erotica in public is not my favorite thing, but once I’m at the venue, I just deal with it and read.
Do you sign autographs? Always. I was obsessed with my signature when I was a kid, practiced it all the time. So yeah, I’ll admit I enjoy it. The readings I’ve done recently for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 have been fantastic fun!
Are your stories based on people you know, or events in your own life? This is how fiction writing works: my brain takes in and processes everything I experience, connecting it in unique ways, so what comes out is completely new, completely fiction, and completely unique to me—what my mind can do with reality. All my work has little bits of me and my experiences, but my experiences include everything I’ve read and seen and watched on TV, that is to say, way lots of stuff.
What kind of relationship do you have with your characters? I feel close to them, I care about them. They’re all a little piece of me in their own way, and they wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t invented them. They’re as real to me as other people’s fictional characters are. Not completely real of course, but our experience of fiction infiltrates our brains to the extent that stories become memories, like dreams do. They change us just like real experiences can, because on some level we have had the experience. That’s what’s so powerful about writing.
Do you have a specific writing style? It’s recognizable. I don’t know if it’s specific. I have a voice, which has a casual and more formal version, and certain rhythms I use regularly. It’s natural though, not a specific style that I aspire to.
How did you come up with the title for this collection? It’s a really obvious title. Feel free to suggest a better one. Thanks.
What have been your biggest challenges as a writer? Realizing I wasn’t perfect was the biggest one. Now that I’ve learned to edit my work, I find it enjoyable. My biggest challenge at present is creating conflict. I am too kind to my characters.
Is there a message in the collection that you want readers to grasp?Something about being brave enough to be yourself and help the world while not judging anyone on appearances?
Do you ever experience writer’s block? It’s not like writer’s block is a real thing. It’s just procrastination. And yes, I do experience procrastination.
Do you work with an outline, or just write? I take notes, but don’t really create an outline, more of an outline of an outline, sometimes pages of dialog that I expand later. But mostly I just start writing and write and edit and take notes until it’s done. At which point I realize what it’s about and go back in to foreshadow or conclude themes. And then edit it some more.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Join a writing critique group, on line or in real life. It will help you a great deal on many levels, to share with and get feedback and critique your peers. No matter how good you are, there are many ways to keep improving your writing. Write something every day.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your career so far that you would change? I would have started working more seriously on it earlier.
What is your greatest writing accomplishment so far? My story “The Exterminator” was mentioned as a Notable Story in the Gemini 2012 Short Story Contest, proof here: http://www.gemini-magazine.com/contest.html I received the following comment from the editor: “An enjoyable story. Beautifully and confidently written.” It made me feel like I’m on the right track.
What drives you every day? They call the drug Caffeine.
Why don’t you have tattoos? The answer’s in the way you phrased the question. When I was growing up, the people I knew of with tattoos were prisoners or sailors, and people who lived in the edges of society. It was a rite of passage, it meant that you were tough, a survivor. And I always dreamed of getting one, but could not decide what to get. The years passed and it became cool among counter-culture types of all stripes, and these days the majority of people under 40 seem to have them. They are no longer proof of survival, but often they have a deep spiritual meaning to those that get them. I’m still thinking about what I really want, especially as I’m getting older and I may start being unrecognizable to myself, so having a tattoo from my 40’s would make sense—maybe for my 50th birthday. Part of me thinks it’s cheating a little—humans are supposed to be vulnerable when naked, and having tattoos gives one extra coolness even when nude.
Okay now I’m gonna ask you some personal stuff, okay? That wasn’t personal enough? Yeah, sure. I am aware that marketing myself is important to my future success.
I hear you’re gay. Why is that? I am indeed gay. Some would say lesbian, but I prefer the other term. I think gayness is like your favorite color—it just is. People exist to make more people, and gay folks are a form of population control–which ones of us happen to be gay is probably random.
So what is your favorite color? Magenta. Since I was eight.
What was your favorite food when you were a child? For a long time pretty much all I ate was peanut butter and jelly.
What’s your favorite indoor/outdoor activity? Indoors, I like cuddling. Outdoors, I enjoy parties, preferably outdoors or with passed hors d’oeuvres, or both.
What was one of the best parties you’ve ever been to? OMG, there was this party in 1988 or ‘89 at a walk-up on the upper east side. Lots of people, lots of psychedelic drugs. We enacted courtly scenes on the roof–I was the queen—and ended up climbing around a construction site on the FDR in the middle of the night. It was all kinds of wonderful.
What was the first music you bought with your own money? The Billy Joel LP The Stranger. It was $5. Which was also what a movie ticket cost at the time. And a pizza.
What is something you learned in the last week? The healthiest combinations of reds for my stripe.
Who was your favorite celebrity as a child? Barbra Streisand, the goddess of “I’m gonna show them how good I am, dammit!”
What about now? Madonna still makes me tingle. Even though she’s stupid.
What is most memorable about your high school years? Stalking the girl I was obsessed with.
What is your business goal this year? Get my short story collection published.
How was the universe created? A bunch of explosions and chemical reactions.
And God? A pleasant but badly misused concept.
How can your public contact you? They can email me at email@example.com
Well I think that ‘bout rounds it up. There’s a lot here to intrigue readers, don’t you think? Intrigue, offend—who cares, as long as they follow my blog! And God knows what this’ll sound like after your hyper-caffeinated editing process.