JC: As your publisher, I obviously know how your on-line journal came to be our first Word Riot Press release. How about letting our readers in on the birth of Blood Tender?
PA: Well, really you had a whole lot to do with it. It’s safe to say that my journal wouldn’t have been published if it weren’t for you. I’ve kept a journal online since I graduated from high school in the spring of 2000. The first year or so wasn’t anything special, and could never stand-alone or be published or anything. I didn’t really know anything about writing, and I never had all that much to say. But I guess in the back of my mind I always thought that maybe I could do something with it; not necessarily publish it as-is, but I thought I could use it as an outline for a fictional account of a girl who doesn’t take the high road into adulthood.
JC: Most blogs are twisted Internet reality shows or teenage angst-fests. What prompted you to take a literary angle with your journal?
PA: In my own life, I usually feel like a spectator, like I’m supposed to just take notes and write it all down later. And not interfere with things; it all just kind of goes by on its own, without my direct interference. I’m always in awe of everyone and everything around me, and I think that fictionalizes the things I write. When you look at the world through rose-colored glasses, everything becomes a ‘tall tale.’
I try not to be too critical of the classic teen-angst blogs. I think most people keep journals for the same reason I do, which is that it helps sort out all the things that get clogged in your mind. It’s a lot like psychiatry. Some people just do a piss-poor job of making it interesting – you gotta put some SHOW in it!
JC: This is billed as a work of “fiction” with names of real people changed to protect their identities. What have been the reactions from those represented as characters in Blood Tender?
PA: I think I hyped it all up so much for so long to everyone that they had a long time to get used to it. Almost everyone that’s a part of Blood Tender was really excited about it, and they got into picking their names and things. I was a little worried about ‘Pete’ and ‘Josh’, the two love-interests (lust-interests) in the story. And I got lucky with Pete, who was definitely really supportive – he didn’t have any problems with it. Josh, though, was really apprehensive about being involved, which is understandable. He had a lot at stake, since a lot of the book dealt with drug use (including HIS drug use) and he has a girlfriend, a child, and a job. But even he’s flattered now, after reading it. Rumor is, Josh’s self-esteem is up 38% after reading some of the things I said about him. As for his girlfriend, her suspicious nature has increased by 71%.
JC: One of the prominent, distinctly American themes of your book is your fascination with fame and success. I say fascination because you keep a safe distance from desire of the two. Can you talk a little bit about the love/hate relationship with fame and success and how it colors the book?
PA: I have a very wise friend who calls me “purposely counterculture.” All right, I’ll admit to that. I’ve admitted to worse things. I am repulsed by everything that’s popular. Well, at least that’s the default. So everyone hears me say that I would hate to be famous and trendy and talked about by Carson Daly. Once you decide to believe in something, it’s usually pretty damn easy to stick by it. I deny pop culture without even thinking about it like breathing. Not that that affects the book in a negative way. I think that it has allowed me to experience a wider spectrum of musicians, writers, etc; people I never would have known about if I’d had my head up MTV’s ass all day like everyone else seems to.
So there’s that disdain for it all, but that’s only half of it. The other half is that I’m a classic attention-starved (or maybe just attention-craving) kid, and what lands you more attention than fame? Fame is the most fascinating thing I can imagine; if I become famous, I make myself immortal. Benevolent vampirism. Or something. Fame is like a drug that very few people have ever experienced. It’s like when people talk about heroin, they’re always like “It’s really great, but…” When celebrities talk about fame, I don’t hear the ‘but.’