“I mean, girl, we’ve gotta look at people’s intentions toward us. Anyone who would try to shut you down or shut me down is a person who doesn’t want the best for you. If I got on the phone today and I said, “Oh, girl, listen to your dad, don’t write your truth,” I’m not a person who has your best intentions in mind. And you should be like, “Thanks Samantha, good to talk to you,” and write me off as a person who doesn’t care about you—because I don’t if I tell you to shut yourself down.”
“I’ve never been one of those authors who fully creates a character in some form distinct from the writing of the story. I don’t do character sketches or “learn” (which actually means invent) things like what they wore to Halloween at the age of eight, or how recently they’ve been to the dentist – unless that comes up naturally. I can understand why people do that, but I tend to start with a few big-picture facts, or not even those, but with a situation or, as in the case of this book, an opening sentence, and then make it all up as I go along.”
“All of the jobs you used to have as a writer that you didn’t want but had anyway—something to put bread and beer on the table while you were writing your book—even those jobs are drying up.”
“[Readers] want the writer to have some sort of personal experience with the narrative. It’s bizarre. People are expecting fiction to be real. We don’t want our writers to write about magic without having grown up in a family full of magicians. The same thing happens when you put people in these boxes. I can’t think of a novel published recently that is a person of one race writing about another race that’s met with much critical success. Why? Why can’t we? That’s our job as writers: To step out of our skins and into other people’s. To the extent that we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our jobs.”
“Humor is essential to survival. Funny poems are vastly underrated. Very underwritten.”
“I saw this quote by Steve Earle that said, “Write about what you know. Everybody knows something.” And that was it, that was my motto. It was just good to remember that I have experienced my life. I have questions about things, be they very mundane. So I was waking up every day and writing in the morning and then recording at night, and whatever I woke up with on my mind, I would write about that. It’s inexhaustible, you know?”
“When you go on a stage—or even in a café or a room—and you play it’s all happening right then and there: the exchange, the art, the communication. Performance is in the moment.”
“Perugia is an absolutely fascinating city, with thousands of years of intense history. And the stories are quite sensationalist. Here is where a woman was sacrificed to the Sun God, I would read in my guidebook while walking around the city. Here is where a woman was flayed alive.”
“I was going to say it’s very hard, but actually it’s impossible to feel the passage of time, because it’s not 1980 anymore, but also it is. I’m not the same person but I’m also the same person. It’s confusing. When the world changes around you in a way that you’ve somehow influenced or had something to do with, it’s kind of disconcerting, like a Philip K. Dick novel. “Isn’t reality a stable thing I can push against? I can alter reality? Aah!” I’m not saying it’s unpleasant, I’m just saying it’s destabilizing, because the world is simpler when you are twenty and reality is massive stone walls that you can’t chip at. The truth is that you can’t actually change anything—you can try. Ripples of ripples and ripples have a slight impact, not as much as you would want but more than you think.”