I’m scared to quote song lyrics because I’m afraid I’ll be sued, but I defer to my first favorite song: Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill: “I’m just another writer, still trapped within my truth.”
Don’t sue. I have no money. Tell me this doesn’t make you weep on hands and knees, or long for some cosmic connection with another human being who happens to be a cross between an Italian mobster and a French painter, or a British rock star and a wild animal trainer. Just tell me. Don’t lie.
What’s Love Slave, your new novel, about?
Sybil, this writer for an alternative newspaper in 1995 Manhattan, temps for a living and hangs out with a Roy-Orbison-in-the-East-Village lead singer of a rock band and a glamorously loopy admin assistant for a human rights organization who dreams of Guatemala. The characters dabble in existentialist angst, flirt with Generation X cynicism, exhibit aesthetic flair, and come to terms with contemporary mores. Plus, they’re all really, really funny and rather gifted talkers.
Is there a difference in your voice between The Freak Chronicles and Love Slave?
My voice seems more easily defined in Love Slave than in Freak. In Love Slave, it’s this smarmy, young, intimate but naïve voice. Freak strikes me as having multiple voices, none of them quite as whacky as Sybil in Love Slave, but all of them a bit darker.
What books have recently blown you away?
Well, just thinking about books I’ve read this year, I’d say that I loved Swamplandia by Karen Russell for the quality of the prose, the music in her word choice, and the originality of the story. I loved Laura van den Berg’s what the world will look like when all the water leaves us for her use of geography which reminded me of Freak and her thematic explorations of womanhood. I loved William Giraldi’s Busy Monsters for the wit and coyness. I’m still utterly in love with how the protagonist makes fun of himself and his world which might be my world too. I loved Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot for the love he had for his characters. This is weird and a little cryptic—and I’d love to talk to Mr. Eugenides about it. I know there’s talk about the disappointing end, and part of me concurs, but another part of me thinks he wrote that end out of love for his characters; he wanted to do right by them. That does sound cryptic. Sorry.
Are there questions that your fiction is preoccupied with?
What’s the meaning of life?
How shall we then live?
What’s with this soul-mate business?
What does it take to exist alongside other, different people?
What would it be like to be really, really physically beautiful?
What happens after we die?
Is there more to being a woman than what the ideological spectrum currently offers?
Why don’t you love Led Zeppelin?
Is there any rock n’ roll in Love Slave?
Is there any sex in Love Slave?
I don’t remember.
Are there any drugs in Love Slave?
No. In the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll equation, drugs interest me the least. Though my next novel is about drugs.
There’s this rumor floating around that I may be starting right now that you’ve been working on Love Slave for a long time. Is this true?
In a way.
I wrote a complete draft in, maybe, 2003. It ultimately got put on hold when I had babies. True story: on the very day that my second daughter was born, I made Love Slave copies at a copy place, went into labor that night, and didn’t do another thing with it for about two years. I’m not really a follow-your-heart kind of girl because I’ve done that a few times only to end up in the hospital or in a life-threatening depression, but—in this case—when I picked it up again, I thought it was too good to let go. So, I pretty much followed my heart and never let it go. I re-wrote much of it. Then, I sent it to Unbridled Books.
Why should anyone read Love Slave? I mean, we’ve already read about Bridget Jones and we’ve already seen a couple quirky Zoey Deschanel films, there’s more sex in Steve Almond, Jennifer Egan gave us her tour de force novel, and your title suggests S & M.
Because I have this very sincere sense of writerly vocation, and I believe in literature; in beauty, truth, and goodness; and my fiction is pretty damn good.
Do you have any secrets?
I have three.
When will you stop coloring your hair red?
When my husband goes bald.
For Sybil: Harrison Ford or Ryan Gosling?
Harrison Ford. Please.
Jennifer Spiegel has an MA in Politics from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Arizona State. Also the author of the story collection The Freak Chronicles, She lives in Phoenix with her husband and two children. Love Slave is her debut novel.
Author Photo by Anastasia Campos.