Lidia Yuknavitch on Frankenstein, Incarceration, and Overcoming Creative Blocks
The Author of Verge on the Advice That Always Helps Her
Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch is out now from Riverhead. She spoke with us about the art that moves her, the writing advice that sustains her, and how she manages her creative process.
Who do you most wish would read your book?
The people who live in the in-between who do not have easy access to books. People incarcerated and people who do not have secure housing and people who can’t pay their bills. People arriving to our shores and people stuck in the cages we put them in and people who thought about leaving the planet last night but who chose to fight for life one more day. People in hospitals and psyche wards. Recovering people and sad people who don’t want to read about faux happiness. I’ll keep working on this.
What do you always want to talk about in interviews but never get to?
The material conditions of characters and their worlds and why it matters to me.
How do you tackle writers block?
I don’t particularly believe in writer’s block, but I do believe that we sometimes get blockheaded about the creative process… It is NOT a problem if ideas go back under for a while… that happens in the ocean too, energy dives down and reassembles and surges. Sometimes you have to wait for the wave to emerge. I go on walks. I swim my heart out. I meditate. I paint. Ideas never die, they just change forms.
Which non-literary piece of culture could you not imagine your life without?
I cannot imagine my life without all of film and all of abstract expressionist painting, because they have informed my entire artistic endeavor, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll mention these: Wings of Desire and the paintings of Joan Mitchell.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a tie: Never surrender (Ken Kesey), and when dragged under, kick. Kick the fuck out of it. They’re not expecting us (Kathy Acker). They seem related to me.
What was the first book you fell in love with?
Frankenstein. Because Mary Shelley = GOAT.
Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch is out now via Riverhead.