In this interview, Kristin, a published writer, shares her journey as a writer and how she first started publishing her work. She talks about her experience of being a survivor of child sexual abuse and how it influenced her writing and creative process. Kristin also shares how being a part of an anthology, where her work was published for the first time, gave her the belief in herself to pursue publishing. She received a partial scholarship to a creative writing master's program, and she discusses how this experience shaped her writing and what she learned from it.
Hi there Kristin. Glad to have you here. I’ve followed you on instagram through a connection with Outcast press and I found your profile alluring. Can you tell us about your journey as a writer, and how you first started publishing your work?
Hi Neda, thank you so much for your kind words about my Instagram. I really try to curate it to reflect my womanchildish self with lots of socks and story snippets and sonnets. My hope is that people see how key my womanchildishness and my writing are to my identity.
I feel very privileged to be a publishing writer because my journey to becoming that was arduous and long. Wrote all my life, but spent many years afraid to let people see my poems and sonnets because they were very dark sexual and raw. When I lived at home in an abusive situation, writing truths about that abuse was outright dangerous. That experience taught me to hide my truths for a while out of necessity.
When I was out of that house, I spent a lot of time creating my own safe space. That also felt a lot more important than, at times, writing and definitely any need to be read.
It took me decades after college to decide it was time to pursue publishing if I was going to do that. Even then it didn’t happen without some intervention from the universe. An old friend of mine was dying and called me to tell me that and thank me for our time together. He hadn’t talked to me for years since I used to frequent his little writing commune in Pensacola and sit in the back scribbling in my notebook. He was someone who knew me as a writer — even if I was a shy one. When he asked me if I was still writing (and at this point I had to admit I wasn’t), he used some of his last words to encourage me to pursue mine. I told him I would, and I am so proud of how I have kept that sacred promise.
This is a sensitive questions and feel free to not answering it. As a transgressive writer myself, I know how personal experiences of abuse can impact the way you see the world and writing. Could you share how did being a survivor of child sexual abuse influence you’re writing and creative process?
I think being an abused child has always been an intrinsic part of my writing process. Writing was the only therapy I had as a child. The house I grew up in was puritanical and dishonest, and the brutal honesty and darkness I embraced in my writing is rooted in a need to always be the opposite of my parents — hedonistic and honest.
As a transgressive and horror writer, I feel like I get to exorcise dark demons that linger from my childhood. I have a substack publication called Womanchildishnesss where a lot of writing lives and recently I wrote a story called The Plan about a girl whose daddy issues lead her down an ill-advised path to a sad destination. My own daddy issues have led me to make terrible choices and while this story was invented, it allowed me to create a character whose father wants her for the wrong reasons. And that is something I very much understand and need to discuss. Sometimes fiction allows us to talk about intimate feelings in the safety of a story. That’s a huge motivation for me.
Your Shakespearean sonnet, "Homecoming" was published in the BDSM collection of poems "The Meadow." How did you feel about having your work included in an anthology, and how did it impact your writing?
Before The Meadow, my memoir in poetry of my experiences as a young woman in the world of BDSM, was published, my poem “Homecoming” was my first publication. It’s a poem about an intense bdsm scene involving ddlg / age play and also masochism. It was published in an anthology called No Other Tribute: Erotic Tales of Women In Submission.
It was my only publication for years because I wasn’t submitting work at this time. The man I wrote it for, my dom, also a writer, knew about the anthology and submitted it for me. When it was accepted, because I still lived at home, I was both joyous in that my writing was somewhere in the world but also afraid for my safety. It was published under the pseudonym Scarlet which was my scene name.
Years later, in my publishing phase of life, I would write a fictional novel version of The Meadow. It follows Scarlet’s story more intimately, and it was truly a 180 moment of life when I finally felt completely free to talk about my life and publish under my own name.
Being a part of that first anthology, though, gave me the belief in myself I would need as a writer. It’s the moment I thought first oh people think what I have to say is fresh and important. I think belief in yourself and having something important to say are beyond critical to your longevity as a publishing writer.
You received a partial scholarship to a creative writing master's program. How did this experience shape your writing, and what did you learn from it?
After being in the anthology, though I was still not brave enough to publish, I did have the essential belief that I belonged in a writing community. I had thrived in creative writing classes in undergrad with my Shakespearean sonnets and was granted a partial scholarship to grad school.
The head of creative writing Dr. Laurie O’Brien really believed in my brutal poems in their traditional formal cages. The scholarship wasn’t sufficient to cover my living expenses and I
was still living in a horrific situation. Getting out of that became the most important to me, and after I completed all the creative writing courses, I dropped out of college to become a topless dancer and acquire independence. But again that feeling of being believed in as a writer stayed with me through my five years of stripping in braids and Catholic school girl uniforms.
You mention that writing was a sanctuary for your hedonistic, atheistic, womanchildish soul. Can you expand on what you mean by that, and how it influences your writing?
The house I grew up in was not only abusive but severely religious. I had always had a curvy body that was hard to hide in puritanical clothes but my parents did their best. Repression ruled in all things and though I already knew that I was kinky and bisexual, those things could never be safely expressed or any sexuality at all.
In writing though, I expressed all these desires. I could be myself. On the page, I have always been honest, and that has kept me sane.
Being a topless dancer need guts, it’s a career in which you have to be brave enough. I wonder how it impacted your writing?
It certainly is. It also allowed me to “play a character” in public — the naughty schoolgirl that was essentially the sexual part of myself. It felt liberating to be wanted and desired for specifically what I was. It taught me that if you risk the rejection of putting the realest version of yourself out there, you may be rewarded by being accepted for exactly who you are. Nothing feels better than that.
When I started writing, I continued this kind of emotional striptease and reaped the same kind of awards. It’s vulnerable and scary and dangerous but it is also life-changing if you dare it. Stripping was the most daring thing I ever did before publishing and I think it gave me the courage to do the latter. I write a lot about the stripping in my books Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir and Lollygagger.
Your experiences with poisonous power dynamics and abuse have inspired you to write books on atrocities committed against others in the world. Can you tell us about these books and what you hope to achieve with them?
My book The Stakes that was published last year is about the use of fire against women as a disproportionate punishment and a tool of misogyny. After the burning deaths of two young women on different sides of the world, Jessica Chambers and Nusrat Rafi, both 19, I became obsessed with this atrocity being committed against women still in a modern world.
One of the poems I wrote about Jessica Chambers, Addiction, references her last meal at Taco Bell and was published in Taco Bell Quarterly and was a finalist selection for Best Of The Net. I feel very honored when I can use my voice to make people think about injustices and what can be done about them. We all suffer when any human suffers from an abuse of power. The only remedy is to own up to our failings as a society and change.
You have written memoirs on your childhood, including "Dewy Decimals and Puritan U." Can you tell us more about what inspired you to write these memoirs, and what you hope readers will take away from them?
Both Dewy Decimals and Puritan U address the power of religious oppression against the individual. I was raised in a very strict Mormon home. There were other problems too but the culture of the Mormon church, the secrecy and misogyny, they played a role at what happened in me at home and at Brigham Young University where I was sexually assaulted and the school actively covered it up.
What I hope people take away from these books is two-fold: One, please have the courage to examine the systems to which you submit. Don’t just ask yourselves how that organization is treating you (though that is important too), but how are they treating others? Do you have power in this group because another group does not? The second aspect is if you do notice abuses, whether they happen to you or someone else, please have the courage to speak up. Honesty is the enemy of abuse. Use your voice.
Another important lesson from Dewy Decimals, as Floridian , a state where book banning is becoming more prevalent especially in schools, is that libraries are lifelines for abused and oppressed children. That book is about the solace I found in the openess of the library. My parents didn’t read a lot and didn’t see the library as the influence that it was on me or they would have certainly limited access. I strong believe in libraries and the right to all people to engage their brain in philosophies and volumes antithetical to what they are presented at home. It saves lives and shapes the imagination.
9. You mention that you sometimes like to make things up, tantalize or scare people. Can you tell us more about your mystery novel "The Avalon Hayes Mysteries" and other literary endeavors in this vein?
Avalon Hayes was born both from my crazy overactive imagination and my love of Nancy Drew. Avalon Hayes is a high school girl in a small southern town who realizes that all the adults in her life are lying to her. The man who says he is her father is not and she can count on no one in her life to tell her the truth. She had to become a detective of her own life. Sadly, the lies her parents tell her, ostensibly to protect her, put her in great danger.
This book definitely reflects my own experience with being lied to in childhood. But it also reflects my wacky imagination and the dark rabbit holes it can take me down — and subsequently my readers. Perhaps the wackiest element in the story comes from a real life ufo hoax that took place in my town Gulf Breeze. It was even referenced in the X-Files episode Fallen Angel. In my story, I give the hoax a romantic motivation, but I think real life is full of material for stories if we are keen observers and critical thinkers.
Your upcoming short story collection, "Daddy," is set to be released this fall. Can you give us a preview of what readers can expect from this collection, and what inspired you to write it?
Daddy is a dark collection of fictionalized daddy issues. It’s in the editing stage now and reading it, the power of this particular dynamic gone wrong can clearly lead to some atrocities. I definitely wrote it to face down my own daddy issues; though these are all very heightened, they all contain something in them to which I can relate. Pondering these horrors has made me feel less alone.
I know that is how writing makes me feel in general — a part of a community, seen and understood by people I will never meet. It’s an incredible feeling I always hoped for and it’s keeps me writing.
To know more about Kristin please visit here website below: