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  • An Exclusive Interview with T Kira Madden
An Exclusive Interview with T Kira Madden
Written by
She Writes
March 2019
Written by
She Writes
March 2019

All month long we are getting to know more about T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls and our guest editor for the month. Check out this exclusive interview and get to know her writing routine, why she types her first drafts on a typewriter and the powerful reason she encourages women to continue writing their stories. 

Describe your writing routine. 

I like thick socks and a warm hat and I always light the same candle in hopes that the scent will condition me into working when it’s lit. I surround myself with my “companion books,” that is, those I turn to for craft, words, purpose, daring, and form. I like a lava lamp because it doubles as a metronome with its rise and fall. I bang out first drafts on my electric Smith Corona typewriter because it forces a transcription on the computer, which means an immediate second draft. The sound of the typewriter, the hum and thrum and clacking, keeps my mind centered. From there, I’m not sure what the hell happens. What I’m always after is the moment I disappear and a possession occurs—I suppose it’s a possession of the subconscious.

What was the first/worst job you ever had before becoming an author?

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have never worked a terrible job; that is, a job in which I was abused or deeply disrespected. Every job I’ve ever held—even those that interested me very little—deepened my understanding of a trade or skill or community of people. I’ve worked in shopping malls and horse stables and even once for a famous rapper. I’ve slung dildos in Provincetown and taught in prisons and homeless shelters and I’ve worked in tech start-ups. Every job has been a complex experience, and, at their best, great stories. 

When was the moment you started to feel like a writer?

Like most writers, I struggle with imposter syndrome. I know I’m the real deal because of how much I care about the craft of writing, because of how much I honor the privilege of it, but I don’t often feel I should or could be recognized as such by others. I think a person is a writer if they continue showing up to it and for it. Dedicating yourself to words—whatever that dedication means to you—that’s the writer’s life. I think when I began taking night classes in creative writing, when I switched my major in college, when I kept writing stories after rejection and rejection and rejection and rejection, somewhere in there it clicked: I’m going to do this. I’m already doing it.

What is the number one piece of advice you'd give to aspiring authors?

Read everything, of course. But, more specifically, fall in love with language and sounds and words. Count syllables. Diagram sentences. We are all natural storytellers, but most of us have to sharpen and train our ears for meter, for the musicality that separates a good sentence from a sentence that breathes.   

Who inspires you?

Grace Paley, Fran Lebowitz, Lynda Barry, Heather Lewis, Harry Houdini, Billie Holiday, Speed Levitch, Monica Lewinsky, Queen Liliuokalani, The Dixie Chicks, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Rachel Maddow, Barry Jenkins, Derek DelGaudio, Alison Bechdel, my cousin Victoria Gonzalez, Missy Elliott, Rene Denfield. My brothers and my sister and my mother and my father. My beloved and brilliant fiancée, Hannah Beresford (and our horse, Jewel). Every power lesbian in a sharp suit. Every woman clearing the path.

Why is it important for women to tell their stories?

Because eventually, they’ll have to listen. 

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  • Patricia Robertson

    "I think a person is a writer if they continue showing up to it and for it." Amen!