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Q and A

Sep 15, 2011; Bob Asks:

Hey Stacey, I just read your story "My Date With Satan" for my creative writing class. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and commenced reading all your stories that are online.I'm broke as a joke, but am committed to purchasing one of your books immediately. Any advice as to which one should be my first priority? Or maybe I should just hold out for that pirate novel I've seen mentioned. What do you think? Thanks for the righteous stories.

Stacey answers:

Sorry Bob, I forgot about you. I am bad, bad, bad. Read Twin Study first. The pirate novel may be awhile.

Sep 07, 2011; Sophie Asks:

Hey Stacey! Love your work! I'm doing an oral interpretation of your story "Rats Eat Cats" for Speech competition. I like to think of it as, instead of a slow descent into madness, a slow descent into sanity or at least a version of it for someone. Also about how inaction is actually an action. Would you agree? Do you have any suggestions or insight as to how to perform these characters how you intended them? Thanks! ^_^

Stacey answers:

Aw, you made a kitty face from punctuation marks! Actually Sophie, I kind of forget how that story goes but your interpretation is probably better than mine anyway. I like a slow descent into madness and I also like a slow descent into sanity. Is oral interpretation where you fake-read the dialogue of a story as though it's a play, angling your body to different corners of the room for each character? I bet it is...which means you're in high school! Awesome! I did speech in high school too, not because I like making speeches but because I hated my life/Phoenix/parents so much that I decided I had to do the most difficult, terrifying extracurricular activity to ensure I'd get into a college that was far, far away. Now I'm back in Arizona, calling my parents every other day to tell them I love them. Don't worry--I still hate them too. And this stinking, cowboy wasteland. But I also love it.

For the characters, one thing I recall is that the cat girl is also an art chick--one of those blue-haired horn-rimmed girls who wears perfume that smells like gasoline does things like making giant paper mache ovaries and taking a vow of silence for every Saturday in March. She has strong feelings but also looks at everything with an aesthetic eye, which means she's also ironic. Her weirdness is somewhat calculated. The rat boy, on the other hand, is truly, honestly weird, which is one of the things that makes him fascinating to her.

Sep 03, 2011; Lunch Time Asks:

Hi Stacey, I'm passing through Tucson and I'm starving. Wanna have lunch?

Stacey answers:

Uh, was that yesterday? The answer is yes. If I could go back in time, I would have lunch with you yesterday.

Sep 01, 2011; Fantasy Mole Asks:

As soon as I posted, I realized my university in Montana in the 90s was already an anachronism, and I was presumptuous to assume the modern academy would retain such contrivances. Another format bites the dust. The format of your Q&A here presents a type of authority that led me to imagine you as teacher, holding forth. You were profiled by two and a half pages of questions and answers. Any elaborate presentations of fantasies projected by you would certainly count. I imagine the scroll of your fiction at reading pace writ large in Times Square would gain more attention than any ad for . There's a grant for that somewhere. //took break and read The Chair of Rejection// Well okay, maybe no grant, but I will purchase your Twin Study from the Amazons, consider your website a marketing success. As a followup, if you had a Jenny Holzer projection with Twitter-length restriction, what would your message be and where would you want it?

Stacey answers:

Thank you for thinking of me as holding forth. I try to think of myself that way too. Your question is really hard. But I guess if I could really say anything and put it anywhere, I'd beam the words: "That lady is your mommy and you love her. Jump into her lap and purr madly. #felinemindfuck" into the brain of my cat.

Aug 29, 2011; Matt Asks:

Hi, Stacey. Thinking of you today-- I just bought pressurized air to clean my computer and my car and maybe the dogs and thought of that girl from Intervention. What was her name? And watched Sir Patrick on Hoarders. Have you seen that one? I think his place looked better BEFORE. Thanks.

Stacey answers:

Alison! Yes, yes, I love her so much. She's all better now. Which is, uh...good, right? I would never say it wasn't good. She seems nice as a sober person but when she was high, she was spectacular. I haven't watched Sir Patrick yet but I've been hoarding Hoarders on TiVo and can't wait. My favorite hoarder so far is Glen, the real-man rat-man. Have you met Glen? He let his house fill up with rats, entirely full, because he loves them with all his heart. He tries to hold in the pain of losing his favorite little buddy but fails--he can't, he can't, the feelings are too strong! That episode also has great moments from my other favorite: the mean, insane Dr. Robin Zasio. That chick is fucking awesome. I'm going to guess that she's the only OCD therapist alive with a personal style inspired by Cher. Not only does she do her own makeup (orange base with a special high-clump mascara on her lower lashes) and wear bell bottom capris, she also says things like: "How did it feel when you found your wife dead in the car?" (Bill sputters: "It hurt like hell."). Once, as a woman told her about her childhood sexual abuse, then crumpled into her arms, Zasio said: "We don't have time to deal with this right now. Let's try to set it aside." Ha ha ha! Yes yes yes! Why not just never talk about it again? Plus she's "obligated" to call CPS on everyone.

I'd be interested to learn the technique of using compressed air to clean a dog.

Aug 27, 2011; Fantasy Mole Asks:

Do you have a preferred blackboard surface? Could you compare the vertical writing surfaces of three institutions? Have you ever had a truly superior blackboard experience, one you might describe as dreamy? What's your earliest memory of writing large enough to be seen publicly? What's your handwriting like?

Stacey answers:

I don't know. I'm not sure I've ever even written on a blackboard once. But I fantasize about elaborate presentations I'd like to do someday with an overhead projector. Does that count?

Aug 27, 2011; Psued O. Nym Asks:

Ms. Richter, are you aware of the advice columnist "Sugar" who is featured at the online mag The Rumpus? Don't you think that something along those lines would be a great gig and a natural fit for you?

Stacey answers:

No, I didn't know about Sugar. I just read a couple of her keening, earnest columns and sort of want to kill her. She's so nice...but she cut off her father! Then she told another girl to cut off her father! Folks at home, don't do this--no, no. If someone asks, I'll explain why.

Pseud, thanks for thinking of me, though I have mixed feelings about the trend here of brainstorming a way for me to be professionally rewarded for this forum. I'm touched that you bother, particularly since it would mean less attention and fewer personal answers to all of you (both of you?). Maybe. But I don't really want to. I'm writing the pirate novel! Also, I'm pretty sure Sugar is making a dollar fifty a column, more or less, and there's nothing like low pay and a firm deadline to make me want to eat worms.

Aug 17, 2011; Tom Hancock Asks:

Hi Stacey! How has your summer been? Any progress on the Pirate novel?

Stacey answers:

Hi Tom. My summer's been okay, thanks for asking. A little progress on the pirate novel but mostly staring at it. Might start typing all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy for a while and see what happens.

Aug 11, 2011; anon Asks:

Thank you.

Aug 09, 2011; anon Asks:

Dear Stacey, This one's a doozy. My boyfriend is the perfect boyfriend, and I love him completely. Our relationship is perfect. Except for one thing. He's in the army, and so he has no control of his destiny. The government has all the say in that. And they're all "surprise!" we're sending you to Afghanistan for a year! We already did one of these deployments, to Iraq. And in the year in-between I've been deluding myself that somehow we can make a life and a family together. Also you should know that I love my career--it's promising, and fulfilling, and tied to one city. And I really really want to have kids. And it seems like all three of these things--him, career, family--cannot possibly co-exist. At the bare minimum, I'd have to give up my career, and raise his children alone every-other-year, while he gets jerked around to whatever shitty, pointless war we're fighting then. We survived one deployment together, and it took all the strength I had. The thought of doing it again is just overwhelmingly exhausting and depressing--I don't know how Army Wives do it! I think believing in God and America (neither of which I do) must help. Alternately, I could keep him, keep my career, do the long-distance thing forever, and give up on having a family. But no, I really, really want that! More than either of the others, maybe. I want fat, toddling babies that I can pontificate to all day long. What the hell do I do, Stacey? Did I mention that I love him! I fucking love him! He's fucking perfect in every way, okay?! Except that he loves the fucking stupid fucking army! AHHHHHHH and I don't want to be that bitch that makes him choose between me and the army. But I'm almost there, Stacey. I'm almost ready to bring it down to that. To an ultimatum. Huh. Like any good life together ever started with an ultimatum. I just can't figure out a way for us to be together without one of us being miserable. Being without him would be even more miserable. He is 100% my favorite person in the world, and the only person who can make me smile after a long, shitty day.

Everyone else around me gets to sleep next to their husband every night, and they're all having beautiful, precocious babies, and I'm so fucking jealous. I'm just trapped. Any way I go will fucking suck. Fuck. Help me, Stacey.

Stacey answers:

That's easy. You already know the answer: marry him, have the babies, do it now, don't wait. Your relationship may suck in several ways but it's more than most people ever have and you're lucky to have it. And you're not trapped--I doubt that your Army man thinks of you as trapped--you're just in a situation where you're never, ever going to get everything you want. I'm disgusted to sound like your fourth-grade teacher, but honestly, in life, there's really no chance of actually getting everything you want. You can nurse a dream of it, and fight for it, but those are fairy tale dreams rather than real goals. Even when it looks like other people's fairy tale dreams have come true, they actually haven't (two words: Diana Spencer). If you're stuck on your dreams of a perfect future, consider this: it's common enough to find a man who will sleep next to you every night, but it's a rare thing to get a chance to marry your great love.

Here are a few things that might make you feel better: everyone does not get to sleep next to their husband every night and sometimes when they do, they don't want to. Life is long and people get sick of each other, even people who love each other deeply. There's something to be said for taking a break. I know a year is too long but it might help the two of you cherish the time you have together in a way that bored, old couples don't even consider. Because eventually you will be a bored old couple. Also: Skype. And: get him to give you something major, huge, and painful. Put your foot down. He has to give you something if you give him this, otherwise you'll be tormented by resentment. This will erode your love. You can't be the only giver. Even though it may feel loving to be the main giver, eventually you will start to hate him, in ten minutes or ten years, so you can't do this. Got it? It can be money to help with childcare when he's away, all his extra money (because you don't want to be raising the babies all alone), or a promise to quit the Army by the birth of child two, or to stay home a year with the babies himself in the future. He wants a good family life too, right? He's going to have to work for it at some point, to give something up, even the Army. In five years, six--is there any amount of time that seems reasonable to him? (Don't wait for the babies to look and him and cry, hoping that that will do it. Because if it doesn't, you'll be extremely angry). Get him to make a plan now.

If he really won't give up the Army, ever ever, figure out if there's anything else that will satisfy you. (Also, please remind him that no one is going to love him forever if he always calls the shots unilaterally--no one loves a tyrant. Except his dog). Maybe you could have a non-monogamy clause for you, just you. You get to have a boyfriend on the side and he doesn't get to, ha ha ha. A diamond ring every year. Or, my favorite, you let him be in the Army if he says yes to you about everything else. Honey, want to take a walk? Yes. Want to change the baby's diapers? Yes. Want to go to the Katy Perry concert? Yes. Oh, we forgot milk. Will you go back to the store for it? Yes, yes, yes.

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