Friday, February 26, 2010

Melissa Febos

From a Q&A with Melissa Febos, author of the memoir Whip Smart:

Q: Tell us about your memoir.

A: On the surface, Whip Smart is a book about my four-year experience as a professional dominatrix in New York City, during which I managed to graduate college with honors and overcome a drug problem. Sensational as that all sounds, I tried hard not to glamorize, or otherwise dress-up the experience. I wanted to be faithful to the reality of that world, as well as to my own emotional and intellectual experience. While my goal was to create a literary portrait of a subculture, and of addiction, mostly I wanted to tell a story of personal transformation, of how a life lived in extremes led me to myself, and to a life of surprising normalcy and joy. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to be a kind of love story.

Q: Why write a book about it?

I’d planned on being a writer since the age of seven, but I never planned on writing about being a dominatrix. I figured it would work its way into my fiction eventually, but that’s it. I was midway through a novel in graduate school when I figured out that this was the best story I had to tell, and the one most itching to be told. I resisted it at first, but most writers know how impossible that can be.

Before that, I never saw myself writing memoir, and considered young memoirists essentially narcissistic and unimaginative. Needless to say, I feel differently now. I have great admiration for many memoirists. Creating a literary work out of one’s own experience requires tremendous imagination, and humility.

Q: What are readers going to find most shocking about your experience?

No doubt...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue