Author of I DON’T BLAME YOU (May 2019; Unsolicited Press)
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
John Cheever. I would prepare a slow-cooked Bouef Bourguigon with a simple green salad, a crusty baguette and some decent red table wine.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
I think the scariest thing about writing and being a writer is the possibility that you suck, that your work sucks–that nobody will ever want to read it. So when I feel that possibility of sucking creep into my psyche, it turns into a complete existential crisis, almost like death. When I feel it, when I catch it, I practice a lot of self-soothing. It has taken me a long time to use those skills, but they work. I actually think this is a normal thing, a good thing for all artists to experience, because in a way, it leads to motivation, to do better work, to not suck.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Someone who I fell super hard for when I was in my early twenties is the late writer, Robert W. Bingham. I return to his story collection, Pure Slaughter Value, every few years and it never fails to inspire and engage me just like it did when I first read it. He was a tremendous literary talent and a truly interesting character in his own (too short) life story.
What books are on your nightstand?
Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories by Taeko Kono
Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin
and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
I cull a ton from my past. I am inspired by how both funny and insightful it is to be able to look at a memory from a distance, even if it’s a difficult, traumatic memory. How you can’t oftentimes believe that was you who actually experienced that thing. It turns me more into a character at that point, like I am seeing myself as a different person entirely which in a lot of ways, I am. I find that this process is where a lot of healing takes place.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
The question mark. Because I am very probing; I am always asking questions both on and off the page.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
The Iliad and The Odyssey. Let’s just say I didn’t connect much with any of the Greek tragedies.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
A Stabilo fine point ink pen in black.
Why do you write? The first 5 words that come to mind. Go.
Companionship, belonging, trust, creativity, pain
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Get out of your own way and onto the page.
Frances Badalamenti was raised in Queens, New York and Suburban New Jersey, but she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son. Her work can be found at Mutha Magazine, Hip Mama, Longreads, Vol.1 Brooklyn and forthcoming in The Believer Magazine. I Don’t Blame You is her debut novel. She is currently working on another book.