I’ve been writing the Girl on Girl series since the start of this year, and as I look back on the amazing women I’ve interviewed and the wise words they have shared, I am extremely thankful at my luck to have encountered so many inspiring people. Up next, I’ll share my interview with Kate Bernheimer, fairy tale expert, writer, editor, and amazing feminist who interweaves feminism into her modern fairy tales.
Now that I have a new job working with kids, I unfortunately can’t write as much “sexually explicit content”—there goes my writing life. So that means my Sexy Thursday writing for the PDXX Collective will be limited to my interview series (I figure it doesn’t count if someone else is talking about sex). In preparation for the upcoming months, I’m taking the time here to create a sexy writer wish list. Inspired by my ability to nab Kate Bernheimer (one of my living literary idols), I’m aiming high for the future of the Girl on Girl series. But more than literary achievements (or accessibility now that I live in New York), I’m looking for the writers who are bold in their sex writing and who inspire me to be the same.
I’ve had my eyes on her for some time now. As a founding editor of Tin House, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and the author of short story collections about the lives of women including Blueprints for Building Better Girls, Schappell is the closest I have found to a role model in her ability to combine writer with editor and overall literary badass (she hosted the 2013 Oregon Book Awards wearing black leather; I was smitten). I first heard her read at the 2012 Tin House Summer Workshop. In her story about teen girls and the rape culture so easily imbedded in college life, she managed to talk about sexuality first with humor and ultimately with the kind of social consciousness that in many short stories could feel heavy-handed, but in hers hit me in the gut. I’m curious to hear her thoughts on the political and social importance of writing about sex.
Nutting first caught my attention with her experimental short stories in the collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. Since then, she has skyrocketed to literary darling status with this year’s publication of her debut novel Tampa. In it, she takes the obsessive male pedophile of Lolita and swaps sexes, presenting a sociopathic female protagonist who preys on 14-year-old boys and doesn’t feel an ounce of guilt over it. I read this story on an hours long road trip with my family—bad idea. I heard her read recently and noted that she chose a tame passage with zero sex in it to read. I would be curious to ask her how often she reads the “juicier” sections to crowds, how she overcomes anxiety about writing a “bad” character who never learns her lesson, and how she faces judgments from more puritanical readers.
Because a girl can dream. Because Bad Behavior altered me as a writer.
Honorable mentions: Sharon Olds, Cheryl Strayed, and the ghost of Anaïs Nin.
I’m coming for you, ladies. You will be mine, oh yes, you will be mine. And for any PDXX Collective readers out there who want to chime in with their additions to the sexy writer wish list or have questions they are dying to ask interviewees, leave me a comment. I’ll do my best to stalk these women and ask them the embarrassing questions so you don’t have to.