he did this, I know, a penetration… No insertion, but some kind of, tongue and lips and oh God, so vile, did I want it, did I ask did my hips betray my mind, did the drink ing earn the crime, did young blushing cheeks belie a want, perversion, deserve the panties down, around the ankles, a betrayal ground. Is it rape if no one hears you, is it rape if he didn’t kill you. Is it rap e, unprosecuted, is it legitimate pain if he did not impregnate you. Is this real if I w rite about it, if no-one reads it, or tweets about it. Am I a victim or a liar. Am I a g irl who asked for it. Am I a woman bur ning in pain — a slave, forever fuckin-slut-sham ed? or am I on fire ———-
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1. Tell us a little about your chapbook Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? and the inspiration behind it?
Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? is my first published book and I am so proud to have it out in the world! It is a retrospective look at the sapphic experiences of my youth and my inevitable queer realisation. I originally wrote it as a tool to come out to my family, hence the title, but it also addresses friends and God too.
2. What experiences or people have had a significant impact on your writing?
I am very fortunate to have had a writing buddy for literally all of my life. My friend Ebony and I were born on the same day, in the same hospital, and have grown up together. We are both very creative and it has been really inspiring to have someone so talented and passionate close to me. I genuinely don’t know what I would be doing without her support. There are also a lot of incredible people in the writing community on Twitter who have inspired and encouraged me so much! Imani Campbell, Juliette Sebock, and Lenee H all have such distinct voices and reading their work is a delight. There are so many amazing writers in this world! As for experiences, they mainly seem to be negative ones — experiences that I need to process, confront, and reflect upon. Writing can be very therapeutic.
3. Since you started to write how do you feel you have changed, and your writing developed?
I started writing when I was in a depressed state and it really helped me to understand what I was feeling and gave me a chance to express those emotions in a safe way. It is emotional looking back on poems and seeing how my perception of the world has changed over this past year and how my mental state has improved. I also became very interested in poetry in general and read as much as I could – especially from online literary journals – and my understanding of language and style has made me a lot more self-critical. I want to put out my best work, the poems that I am really proud of.
4. Which period of your life do you write about most often?
A lot of my poems in Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? were about my teenage years and crushes on girls that I developed but refused to acknowledge, and subsequently by late teens and early twenties when I was involved in serious relationships and finally realising my queer identity. Now, I tend to write about recent experiences as a way to process them as I go through them.
5. What did you edit out of your book?
With a chapbook, you have to be very selective with which and how many poems you include. I wanted to create a narrative that readers would be able to follow while staying true to my own perception of events and the order they happened. Some poems were removed because they confused that narrative, and other poems were taken out because I didn’t feel like they were strong enough. All of my beta readers suggested changing the order of the poems and I think that made the collection so much better.
6. How many hours a day do you write?
It changes every day! I usually begin each day journalling and then turn some of those thoughts into poems. Sometimes a poem takes a minute, sometimes I agonise over it for week.
7. In terms of receiving feedback for your writing who or what do you use for a sounding board?
I have been very fortunate to make connections on Twitter with some truly talented writers and editors, so I send my poems and manuscripts to them for their opinions. Poetry is very subjective so I get a mix of responses. I think it’s important to go with your gut but feedback is definitely helpful.
8. What are the aspects of writing that you find challenging?
A lot of my writing surrounds my own experiences, mostly to do with traumatic events, so I have found it difficult to decide what to put out into the world and how to word things so that certain individuals can’t be identified, in respect for them and myself. It is also really difficult sometimes to figure out if a poem is done or not. You can keep tweaking and tweaking forever but at some point you have to let it go.
9. Other than your writing, what else occupies your time?
I have recently gotten back into playing the piano! I started around ten years ago but stopped due to anxiety. It feels really good to be back sat at those black and whites keys that I loved so much! I also love wandering through nature and taking photographs.
Thank you so much for this interview! I have really enjoyed it!
Silas is a loner, somebody who is a taxidermist. He is on the fringes of society of London in 1850. Iris is a dissatisfied young woman who works for the horrible Mrs Salter, long hours painting the faces of china dolls at the doll emporium, alongside twin Rose. She is then given the opportunity to realise her dream and live a life she didn’t think was possible. You also have the character of Albi, a child who introduces the two, and is involved as a go between the two. It is a grim, bleak read. You can almost smell and feel the world between these pages, the descriptions were that good. You could say the build up was slow, but it’s so gripping in its story, the insights of Victorian life for women, the inequality, amid the backdrop of the Crystal Palace being built. The ending was gripping. By then I was on the edge of my seat. I was almost on the floor. There’s a twist too, which I didn’t see coming and how the author could do that.
Not for those with a faint heart, The Doll Factory is grim, gripping, and excellent story telling. The Doll Factory had almost everything I love to read in a fiction novel.