When I first decided to write a book featuring interviews with some of the most important and compelling women artists of today, I simply wanted to share the stories of some of my favorite artists and their work, plus raise a little money for a few charities and non-profits.
I spent over a year going through hundreds of interviews and selecting those stories that really spoke to my heart. I carefully, thoughtfully, joyfully re-edited or conducted new, exclusive interviews with 28 women, women whose work meant the most to me, spanning the past three years of my career.
When In Her Words: 25 Interviews with Kick-Ass Women in Arts & Entertainment was finally released earlier this year, I was a very proud “mama.” I had completed the difficult task of birthing the book and now the hard part was over.
Not quite, I just found out.
What I didn’t expect was for an elderly family member (who shall remain nameless) to read my book and then call me up, telling me “the whole book is gay” and demanding to know if I was a lesbian.
Whatever happened to “Congratulations! You did well”?
I have to admit that his words took me by surprise and rendered me speechless.
Inwardly I wondered, What is it about my book that’s so threatening? Surely everyone supports women’s rights, including the rights of lesbians?
There has to be something more to this, I thought. I need to break this down.
I typed on my laptop this question: “What exactly is In Her Words?”
“One–It’s a book of interviews.” Nope, nothing scary there.
“Two—it’s a book featuring artists.” Nothing. Nada. Next.
“Three—it’s a book about the powerful stories of women–all ages, all races, all religions, all sexualities.”
Bingo. That’s it. I just found the scary button.
What makes In Her Words so threatening is not that the book is about art or artists, it’s not that it’s about being straight or gay. It’s that the book is about WOMEN–our voices, our bodies, our stories, our art.
It’s about the female experience in all its beauty, in all its expressions, in all its diversity—today, right now.
I purposely wrote about the stories of women surviving rape and incest, about women coming out of the closet, and about women falling in love–with art, with men, with women—but mostly with themselves.
I fully intended for my first book to be a sacred space for the narratives of ALL women, excluding no one, a creative gathering spot where the voices of women were loud and powerful and earth-shaking.
I wrote about this indigenous tribe of womankind, where within our circles, there is safety, sisterhood, hope, and healing.
My book was created in this spirit. Of course it’s going to make waves.
And I’m okay with that.
As for my family elder, I’m taking my dear friend’s advice and finally answering, “I wish! As you know from reading my book, lesbians are awesome!”
For more information: In Her Words: 25 Interviews with Kick-Ass Women in Arts and Entertainment