by Matthew Sitman
In an interview about her debut novel, Cutting Teeth, which follows a group of thirty-something Brooklyn parents and their young children on a weekend trip to the beach, Julia Fierro explores how being a woman and young mother informed the story she told:
The focus of the book is on relationships, and I’m always surprised when women writers complain about their book being tagged by bookstores, book sites, and blogs with “relationships” and “women.” I understand the larger issue that’s upsetting them, and thank goodness we have the VIDA numbers to act as a neon sign broadcasting the truth about gender inequality in the literary world, but I am a woman, and I will always write about relationships. I am inspired by psychology and emotion, conflict and drama. The world is most significant to me as a web of relationships. If a story isn’t filtered through a psychological lens, you’ll have trouble keeping my attention. Humanity’s individual, and collective, fears and needs and desires are the only religion I’ve got and I am obsessively devoted. So I try to embrace the fact that I am a woman writer writing (mostly) about women, although the male characters in my work are often “liked” most by readers (even if they commit the worst crimes—how about that?). Recently, I even had a brief thought—maybe I am writing with women readers in mind? I am, after all, living a life that only another woman could truly understand. I am going through a phase of life—early motherhood—that is complex in a way that is unique to a woman’s experience. What I feel in my body, in my thoughts, and the ways I interpret the world uniquely, all stem from my experience as a woman. But I have to think more on that before I commit.
In a self-interview, Fierro explains how she wrote a novel and founded the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, all while raising two children:
My lifelong insomnia has been a blessing in disguise. I pretty much sleep four hours a night, and am doing my best to ignore conspiracy theories like this, that simultaneously attempt to cut my productivity in half and promise my inevitable doom.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you abandon all household chores that aren’t absolutely essential. Sure, we’re living in chaos, but mom’s making great progress on her next novel and the number of Sackett Street writers attending classes has doubled in the last three years. It turns out that women can “have it all”—they might be miserably tired, suffer from high blood pressure, and not have enough time to eat well, exercise or have meaningful relationships, but you can do anything when you don’t give yourself a reason not to.
Read a sexy excerpt from Cutting Teeth here.