Marie Simas is the author of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?, which is a chick-lit memoir. It's an emotionally intense memoir with comic relief sprinkled on top. You can read my review of it here and read more about Marie at her personal site. Marie was kind enough to stop by Frazzled Book Nommer and answer a few questions!
Was it more difficult writing a memoir as opposed to a piece of fiction?
Yes. Writing this memoir was exhausting. I went through dozens of drafts and three editors. The first few drafts were a lot angrier and less humorous. I got feedback that it was too raw and needed to be toned down, so I did it. I don't want my readers to feel beat up-- I want them to enjoy the book. That's hard when the topic includes a downer like child abuse. It takes a lot of effort to make the entire manuscript an enjoyable read. I'm happier with the final product because I got input from many different writing pros. Sometimes it takes a village.
Were there any reservations or qualms you had about publishing a memoir?
Yes, lots. All the names have been changed, of course. At first, I wasn't going to publish it. I was just writing during the NaNoWriMo, and this is what came out. Even after I showed the manuscript to people who raved about it, I still wasn't planning to publish it.
You might laugh, but the real reason I finally decided to publish this story is because of a random episode of Oprah. I'm not a fan of the show, but I happened to be home one day in the middle of the afternoon. I was flipping the channels and it was the episode with Mo'Nique's brother, who had sexually assaulted her as a child, and now was "speaking out" about it. Mo'Nique had just been awarded an Oscar for her blistering performance in the movie Precious. She was not present at the interview.
All of her family members were out there supporting the brother, (the molester). I just couldn't believe it. The impression I got was that they were all mad because Mo'Nique went public about the rapes and didn't shut her mouth-- they were all embarrassed that everyone had to find out about their dirty little secret. Oprah was trying to keep her composure, but she looked like she wanted to crawl out of her skin, sitting next to him while he defended the molestation of his little sister. I wanted to throttle them ALL.
I thought about it, then-- so, this is how it is everywhere. Every family has dirty secrets. No one talks about it. They just want to bury it under the rug.
After that, I decided to publish. Sunlight is the best antiseptic, after all.
Does your family know you’ve written a memoir, or have any of them read Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?
No one in my family has read it, as far as I know. I didn't exactly ask anyone for permssion. I doubt that anyone would have agreed.
I know some of the chapters aren’t chronological, so how did you go about writing and putting together your memoir?
I relied heavily on my editors to help figure the best order for the chapters. They were all written in random order, and then my editors created an outline based on their reading of the material.
How long was the writing process for Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?
About 16 months, from start to finish. I had to put it down at least twice for an extended period because I was losing my objectivity. That happens sometimes. But I picked it back up after a month or so and started working again.
In the book, you mentioned that you wanted to major in art. Have you ever picked up art again, even as an enjoyable past-time?
I've tried. Sometimes I go into art stores, and it's still really emotional for me. In my city, there's a shop downtown called "Universal Art," with all kinds of fine art supplies, really high-end. Last time I went in there, I walked through the aisles and started touching everything. Then I picked up some handmade paper and smelled it, and I started sobbing uncontrollably and I had to leave. I haven't gone back.
It's hard for me to talk about, because my artwork used to win awards. I've never been able to get it back. I don't know if I ever will. In some ways, this was more depressing for me than any of the abuse. It's like a candle was blown out.
If there was one piece of advice you could say to a little girl in a similar situation as yours when you were young, what would you say to them?
It gets better. Don't kill yourself. Don't cut yourself. Look into the mirror, and tell yourself that you are beautiful, smart, and that you're going to make it. If no one in your house is saying anything positive to you, go into the bathroom, look into the mirror, and say something positive to yourself. I'm not bullshitting. I used to do it. I remember the first time I went into the bathroom, and looked into the mirror, and said "I love you" to my own reflection. No one ever said it to me, and one day I just decided that I deserved to hear it from someone. Self-love is a powerful love. It makes you strong. It can help you survive your darkest moments. Create your own beacon of hope. It will sustain you, I promise.
Do you have any future works planned?
Yes, I'm entering the NaNo again this year. I don't have any ideas yet, but they always appear when I'm ready.
A huge, huge thank you to Marie for agreeing to do an interview with me! And now, onto the giveaway! :)
Marie is offering 3 SIGNED copies of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?
- Ends October 30 11:59PM PST.
- Open Internationally!
- Open Internationally!
- Only one entry per person; there are chances for extra entries, though!
Extra Entries: (these are NOT required)
+1 for tweeting about the giveaway
+1 for commenting on my review of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?
To enter, fill out the form HERE.
Aside from the giveaway, Marie is also offering e-book copies of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? to anyone who is interested in reading and reviewing her memoir. If you're interested in reviewing her work, e-mail me at frazzledbooknommer[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll forward your e-mail to her. :) This offer is only available for the next 30 days.