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Mar 12, 2009; Wiki'd Asks:

According to Wikipedia, you are married and a Scientologist. Is this true?

Stacey answers:

I am just so happy to have a Wikipedia entry that I didn't write myself. Does it really say that? I have to go look at it.

Wow, it really does say that. The Church of Scientology is prominently featured. I am not married. I do not belong to the Church of Scientology. I just put Scientology down once on my Myspace page because I saw it on the pull-down menu and thought it was funny. I also also put down married because I told my boyfriend I wanted to be Myspace Married, which is different than being legally married but still sort of romantic.

Mar 10, 2009; SKC Asks:

Hello, I'm writing an analytical essay on your short fiction, "The Cavemen in the Hedges." I was using the psychoanalysis approach for my paper, and wanted to discuss about the suppression and projection that Kim was slowly revealing. Well, my real thesis question is "How does Richter show couples in her (this specific) story, or what does Richter see in couples?" I found that, in this specific story, you took the man's point of view, to show of his faults in the relationship? His negligence to her emotions as she obsessively cleans the house to fill the void of his not wanting to marry. Where can all the cavemen fit in to this, is he also ignoring her initial fear? Maybe you could just give me a hint? Thank you so much for your help, and I really love this story.

Stacey answers:

Oh my. Hello, SKC. I'm so pleased you're writing about my story. I can't give you any answers, exactly, because I don't believe there are answers in literature, just different ways of framing the questions. So here are a few questions: are you sure Kim is the one (or the only one) doing the suppression and rejection? What if the cavemen are all actually female? Is her devotion to order only about her relationship with her boyfriend? Does this help? Probably not. One thing I can say for sure: the cavemen represent exactly what you think cavemen would represent: cavemen.

Mar 10, 2009; MaGillacuddy Asks:

Have you ever known someone for a really long time, and suddenly seen them in a completely different way, so that you suddenly thought - this person is horrible! Why do I keep him/her around?? And maybe you had inklings of this for years but thought you were being snotty or judgmental, or thought that you'd been friends for so long that it didn't matter, you'd always be friends, etc. it's just that he/she is sort of shitty sometimes? And then you just sort of wake up one day and think - I don't have to put up with this shit. Or the person says something horrible and you suddenly say - that was totally hurtful and demeaning, why would you say that? And then the person claims you attacked her which is totally baffling from your end. You wonder why it took yourself so long to say anything in the first place and it feels great. Once you realize this, you have, like, furious rage against this person for all the years you didn't say anything to the shitty remarks and the rage lasts for months. And yet, you still feel guilty because even though this person is toxic, he/she claims to love you and when he/she's not being a total bitch, she can kind of be fun? And maybe you're just crazy for thinking she's toxic. Maybe it's you. Have you ever felt like that? And if so - what does it all mean?

Stacey answers:

Oy. I think things like this happen to almost everyone at one time or another, MaGillacuddy, and it’s never easy. I think what it means is this: people change. They may not change when you want them to or in the way you want, but they do change, and somehow you’ve evolved so that you don’t need so much shitty meanness in your life. That’s fantastic! Congratulations! I’m sure this took considerable thought and struggle on your part and you deserve a lot of credit. Now, here’s the thing: you’ve changed but your friend hasn’t. Really, when you think about it, why would she? It would be a freakish coincidence if she happened to snap out of her crap attitude at the same time you did. So even though I hate being on the side of assholes, I have a smidge of sympathy for your friend in this situation, MaGillacuddy. Here’s the thing: I would guess you’ve been getting something out of this friendship for all this time, even if your friend is a big fat jerk. There can be benefits to hanging out with mean people. It can be rather great to have a fierce person in your corner, who spews all the anger you're too timid or lazy to vent yourself, who scares away the faint-hearted and boring creatures you'd prefer not to deal with. But if you grow out of it, you have a problem: now you're stuck with this person who is used to being loved by you for her ferocity, and suddenly you're turning around and telling her she’s hurtful and demeaning. So indulge me for a minute and look at it from her point of view: she’s acting the same way she always has, a way that’s always seemed to be okay by you, and suddenly you’re enraged—but as far as she’s concerned, she’s just being herself. She’s probably hurt and confused, and if she’s an embattled person to begin with, that’s not going to make her act any nicer. Quite the opposite.

She might change someday too, who knows? One thing is for sure though, she’ll do it on her own schedule. But until then, at least she can still be fun at times, and it’s sweet of her to say she loves you, and I’m sure she wouldn’t be your friend if you didn’t have something worthwhile together. You know, it’s hard for a friendship to survive a change like this—you are essentially saying you’re not sure you like her anymore—but even if your friend doesn’t change, the nature of your friendship can. Unless she’s hurtful and demeaning to you—in which case I hope you draw the line and tell her it's not allowed (do it whenever you're ready but tell her)—maybe she’s just a friend with the flaw of bitchiness, which is on par with, let’s say, stupidity, weird relationship issues, over-drunkenness, and bad art making—it’s not fun, but maybe it’s not a fatal flaw.

Mar 06, 2009; Elizabeth in DC Asks:

Ms. Richter: I was happily entertaining myself your short stories while on the tarmac while everyone else moaned and groaned when a small fire broke out in the lavatory.They are very funny and I enjoy laughing at lines like the one about photos stealing one's soul, but the soul isn't much-used anyway, the land of carniverous dinosaurs where one goes when one goes "too far," and the comical use of citations in the Princess/Prince meth amphetamine story, but I am always braced for sadness finding its way in. I am wondering if you first imagine your characters in all their neediness and quirks before you start furnishing them with family (the high-strung rock start Mom), situations (the restaurant showdown)and their epiphanies or slapdowns (awkward teenage boy rejects awkward teenage girl, so she will instead throw her chips in with her over-the-top Mom.) I am wondering because it occurred to me, as i walk about in a strange city, that I start with the awkward or telling or uncomfortable or revealing moment when I write, and then try--and mostly fail--to build a story from that. Just curious..

Stacey answers:

Hi Elizabeth. The neediness and quirks arise as I write or re-write, I find, as do the awkward or telling moments. I sort of love those moments in real life and it's a good thing too, because if I didn't love awkward moments I would be screwed (I strive to be the first to arrive at parties). It's hard for me to get a story going from a detail. I usually start with some sort of conflict between two or more characters, then allow the characters to interact with one another. Isn't that a boring answer? And yet it usually turns into some sort of story, but not always. I find a story sort of sucks up telling details and moment and metaphors almost by accident, and in a way it helps not to try too hard to be smart. I will rewrite for years, but usually I'm trying to get the rhythm right.

Mar 05, 2009; Sigh Asks:

I'm afraid I'm a failure as a fiction writer because I haven't read any contemporary work in a long time. I want to read something good, pure and unadulterated good, that's been written in the last 5 years. Doesn't matter whether it's a collection or a novel. Any ideas for me?

Stacey answers:

You are, you are a failure. Shame on you, Sigh! Go out and buy some hardbacks. It's a bad, selfish thing to want people to read your fiction while not reading anyone else's fiction yourself. You can't be in the world of books unless you're in the world of books. Also, books are wonderful and will change your life, including the new ones, though sometimes the new ones haven't quite found their place in the world yet so you have to sift through them a bit to find the ones you like the most. I'm not sure I've found anything that's pure, unadulterated good, though you can try Denis Johnson's long story Train Dreams, in the 2003 O.Henry anthology (though that's slightly outside your window), and Donald Antrim's essay I Bought a Bed in many anthologies and his book Afterlife. For extremely enjoyable and delightful but perhaps a little less than absolutely perfect, you could also sample from this varied lot: Like You'd Understand, Anyway, by Jim Shepherd, Milk, by Darcey Steinke, Twin Study, by Stacey Richter (sorry), The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, The Last Novel, by David Markson, Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link, and Drop City, by T.C. Boyle.

Mar 03, 2009; Liam, From MySpace With Love... Asks:

So, Stacey. We've all watched the endless banned-substance-revelations unfold in the world of Major League Baseball, and I think I'm not alone in wondering, "Have you, Stacey Mildred Richter (that's your middle name, right?), ever taken a performance-enhancing drug?"

I don't want to imply that I think you certainly have, but I'm just saying it seems like the right time to finally come clean and say you're sorry. That's all. But rest assured, S-Ricky, should you choose to confess, we, your mindless, sycophantic zombie-army (we prefer the labels of "the Richter Undeads" or even, more whimsically, "the Richter-lings), will absolutely forgive you, and stand behind you 100%. The ball is, as they say, in your court, my dear Mildred.

Hungering for Brains --Delicious, Delicious Brains,

Stacey answers:

Liam, Liam. Once I stole some of my ancient grandmother's Provigil, a stimulant prescribed to her when she was 99 years of age because she was sleeping 20 hours I day. I believe this is a banned substance in cycling, so yes, I have taken performance enhancing drugs. I'm not sure how feeling dizzy, wired, and tired all at the same time can enhance performance, but we have to go with the anti-doping committee's recommendation, so there it is.

Feb 28, 2009; Wag Asks:

You think I'm a zombie just because I want to eat your delicious brains?

Stacey answers:


Feb 24, 2009; Wag Asks:

Do you really know who I am? Really?

Stacey answers:

Ah, so true. Zombie?

Feb 23, 2009; NonAnon Asks:

Do you pay attention to the IP addresses of the people who ask you questions here so that, no matter what pseudonym people come up with in the little line name above, more or less, you know who is asking you questions? Just curious.

Stacey answers:

Uh, no. I don't know how to do that. Wait, I just asked someone. Okay, I see. I can check with my internet host and find out what city people are writing from, though apparently it's not always that precise, i.e. my own IP address says Phoenix even though I'm in Tucson. So even if I checked the IP address, I would only have a vague sense that certain pseudonyms might belong to the same person--which is fine, NonAnon. You can ask as many questions as you want. It's a big enough world that I doubt I could pin you down even if I knew your city. Do you think all the questions are from, like, two people I went to grade school with? That would be a little disheartening.

I do know who a few questioners are because I either know them in real life or they're pen pals who write me additional emails on the side (stretching the definition of "knowing" here). There are a lot of questions from Wag (who appears as some variation of Wag), my friend Chris, who in real life was trying to help me get my roof to drain, which is why there's a whole conversation below about how to get a roof to drain. Obviously I know who that is. Anyway, Non, to answer your question: I don't check the IP addresses, I don't know how, and I don't plan to start. Does this mean you have some sort of racy question you want to ask?

Feb 21, 2009; Possibly Stupid Asks:

So, this might be a stupid question but what *do* you eat if no grains and potatoes and whatnot? What does breakfast look like without toast or cereal or whatever? Also - don't you got fuzzy brain from lack of carbs? Or do you just eat a lot of bananas?

Stacey answers:

I eat a lot of macadamia nuts and often think of Rabbit at Rest wherein Harry Angstrom dies from, I kid you not, eating too many macadamia nuts. For breakfast I eat eggs, bacon, yogurt, fruit, cheese, and sometimes oatmeal because I'm a cheater. In general, I eat a lot of meat and vegetables and nuts and stevia. I eat fruit but I don't eat a lot of bananas. The reason I've adopted this diet is because (and again, I kid you not) people who don't eat processed food (flour, sugar, juice, Hot Pockets) seem not to get cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cavities, and a host of other ailments, some of which have been bothering me. So, essentially I'm aiming for a hunter-gatherer diet but with some dairy because I'm too lazy to do it without dairy.

I'm not fuzzy without carbs, but I had to adjust to having less of them. At first I was fuzzy and really hungry, but now in general I'm almost never feel as hungry as I used to when I ate more carbs. Still, it's a hard diet to get used to and to stick with, even for me--and I feel sick when I eat sugar.

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