Anna Marrian, author of the riveting Shebook memoir Love Junkie: Getting High for Daddy, shares her thoughts on memory, transgression, and the literary spin cycle.
What prompted you to write Love Junkie?
My father has been in my head my whole life—he played such a prominent, albeit absent, role, which would inevitably become steeped in longing, fantasy, and transgression. For a long time, I wanted to get the Kenyan story on the page. One morning on a winter day, I started writing in bed after reading a story about a cancer patient who had to ride the bus to his appointments in his hospital gown, and his butt was always flapping in the breeze. It was gutsy and inspirational. I wanted to write like that.
Are there any themes, characters or imagery that you find recurring in your writing? What are they, and what is their origin?
The themes of longing, shape-shifting, and searching for home are ever present in my work. Their origin comes from a strong sense of distrust and disconnection from my family and myself as a child.
How do you define truth in your memoir writing?
There’s no such thing as truth in memoir, only memory, which is dreadfully colored and faulty. What I remember and what I think happened will be entirely different from what the Easter Bunny saw. Nonetheless, it’s my experience, which has meaning to me and hopefully resonates with others. I want to write to make a connection, to take the reader to the moment and transport them. That’s why I read and why I fell in love with writing. To be transported and affected and enter another emotional world that resonates with me in some way.
Is there such a thing as “women’s writing?” Do you hate the term chick lit, or do you think we should embrace it, as we have the term gay?
We live in a world where categories help us to identify ourselves, or not, with things, and that’s good for sanity, I guess. I think of chick lit as a fun summer beach read. “Women’s writing” considers a distinctly female perspective, just as “gay” writing considers the uniquely gay perspective. Ultimately, when I write, I come from my own experience. I’m interested in what it’s like to be human and go through the washing machine of life. So what about a category called “human writing”? Or “washing machine writing”? Or “stories from the spin cycle”?
What advice do you have for an aspiring writer who is just starting out?
Just tell the story. All the juicy parts, like you might tell your friend at the bar. Start in the middle, or end or wherever. Don’t worry about being organized, linear, or even rational for your first draft. In fact, the more outlandish, the more oddballish, the more quirky, the more you’re going to get a reader’s attention.
Read Anna Marrian’s unbelievable true story of heroin addiction, family taboo, and remarkable resilience. Love Junkie: Getting High for Daddy is a must-read memoir, only from Shebooks!