1) What is your favourite motto?
That’s a tricky one, though I’d have to say a favourite of mine is, “If you can’t beat them, fight dirty.” Another one I have been known to use quite often after half a bottle of pink gin and those delicious and perfectly legal highs called Lime Fantasy is “You can eat shit for all I care Miss Sandstone.” I remember being at some sort of charity thing and my friend literally having to restrain me because I was going from one impenetrable clique (who are only there for the free wine anyway, the dirty hypocrites couldn’t care less about people starving in the third world or neglected children or animals thrown into canals) to another and shouting this at the top of my voice. This was also the reason security escorted me out of John Waters when he was at Vicar Street – I was furious. Who is he to judge me? He paid someone to eat dog shit for gawd sake. Another one I’ve had to use so many times after meeting a strange man, whether it be in a bar, on the street, through the Buy and Sell or down behind the Olympia is “Shut up and fuck me. I want cock you thick mule, not conversation.”
2) What is the most inspirational book you have read?
This is easy and I’m going to pick a non-fiction book. It’s by gender queer Kate Bornstein and called 101 Alternatives to Suicide, a book written especially for teens, freaks and other outlaws (I fall into all three categories except the teen one, though you’d never think I was over 18 to look at me) and basically gives you, er, 101 reasons to keep your head out of the oven. I keep it by my bed whenever I feel a bit blue and am thinking about throwing myself under a bus or drowning myself or slashing my wrists. And they really do work: so far I’ve baked a cake, took a deep breath and touched myself (this one I didn’t like so much) and attempted several others. Whenever I get the urge to top myself, I’ll dip in and find a new and innovative distraction which will steer me away from that bottle of pills.
3) Who are your favourite heroines in literature? And why?
Angel Dare (Money Shot) – former porn star turned Angel of Deliverance, soon to appear in Faust‘s forthcoming sequel Choke Hold. Why? She is fucking fantastic, sexy, realistic and funny and after everything she is put through, she is still a hugely compassionate person. Bella (Dirty Weekend) by Helen Zahavi – she was a “video nasty in velvet gloves.” I love her because she was ruthless,
hilarious and ultra-violent and Zahavi gives her heroine a happy ending. Ariel Manto (The End of Mr Y), Scarlett Thomas‘ PhD student is a deeply flawed and immensely lovable creation. I think it’s obvious I’m quite drawn to damaged characters and I remember the end of the novel as really quite heartbreaking when Ariel didn’t want to return to the world she knew because there was nothing out there for her. I’ve read this book twice and really see a lot of myself in her – okay, I’m not even a third as smart as she is but I understood her loneliness, the solace she finds in literature and knowledge and, of course, the rough sex with strange men.
One of the reasons I submitted to Pulp Press was because of Eloise Murphy – the protagonist from Killer Tease – it was so refreshing to meet a character in print who could kick ten people’s asses in a bar fight and still look good in pasties. I also really like Diana Kemp from Cathi Unsworth‘s The Not Knowing. There are so many others but my final one is Millie (Brass) – Helen Walsh‘s critically acclaimed debut saw a young sexually predatory woman, high on beak, booze and an insatiable lust for sex with street prostitutes. Again, she’d hardly be described as a “heroine”, but I immediately fell in love and wanted to wander around the seedier side of Liverpool with this girl, high on beak and booze. She was a revelation to me. I’d never read a character quite like her.
4) What do you hate most of all?
One thing that bugs me is people saying with an absolute conviction that
they hate something when they refuse to look at the object of their disgust. Sarah Langan said to me that writers shouldn’t make their lives small and I couldn’t agree more – I suppose one of the things you learn when studying
journalism is to always keep an open mind and explore everything and anything and to be as informed as you possibly can be before coming to any sort of decision regarding anything. It’s stupid dismissing something because of word-of-mouth or whether it’s popular or underground, mainstream or cult. How can you hate something when you don’t even know what that thing is? That’s something I hate, I guess. That and Jeremy Kyle. What a fucking wanker.
5) How would you wish to die?
Somewhere prettier than where I am right now. A place where people don’t put me on their mailing lists without my permission. Knowing my luck I’ll probably end up a lonely pathetic old spinster with VD who drowns face down in a pool of my own shit.
Let Me Die A Woman by Alan Kelly is published by Pulp Press in April.
First posted: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010.