Ask the Author: Faith Gardner

Faith Gardner’s fiction is featured in the April issue and she talks with us about what she wears in her head, the development of this story and how music influences her writing.

1. What do you wear, ride, and snort in your head?

Currently, in my head, I’m naked, I ride a hot air balloon, and I snort the cremains of famous dead people.

2. Why is it so important to die on one’s own terms?

Sometimes I think it’s about ending pain and confusion and loneliness. Sometimes I think it’s about being in control, writing the end to your own story. But really, I don’t know how important it is. Is death ever really on anybody’s terms?

3. How did you develop “I Wear A Leather Jacket In My Head”? Do you start with the end and unravel it from there or from a different point?

No, I started with the title. I tried on this leather jacket and was stunned that I looked nothing like that badass Joan Jett idea of myself in my head. I decided that there is another me who is much cooler, much bolder, much more punk rock living inside myself. Then I came up with the first paragraph and a character and wrote it straight through. With shorter pieces, I often have no idea how it’s going to end until I get there. I didn’t realize my protagonist was going to feed herself to sharks until it started happening. I was like, “what the hell are you doing, protagonist?” But she was all crazy at that point and I couldn’t sway her from self-destruction. So I just sat back and watched.

4. What is your level of interest in aquariums?

I’m officially fascinated by aquariums. I don’t know why. They’re bizarre. Sad maybe, unnatural yes. But they’re beautiful and calming and bubbly and blue. And they’re little ecosystems. I have a ten-gallon tank and some critters and swimmers. I keep them pretty happy, I think. Fish are hard to read. Sometimes they mysteriously die and I flush them away and wonder if it was my fault or whether aquariuming is even worth it. It’s a lot of responsibility for an irresponsible person such as myself.

5. How does playing music influence your writing?

Fragments of my interests and experiences slip into what I write, and music is no exception. I love so many kinds of music. I love going to shows and playing onstage and being in a band. Composing music is just another mode of writing to me, although I use songs more to write about abstractions and ideas and fiction more for narratives. I also have a love for melodramas, especially old movies, which are rooted in music. Music can express what words can’t, and I think that makes it a special and particularly useful theme when used in fiction and movies.

6. What sea shanty would you write about the protagonist?

Her sea shanty would be dissonant and nonsensical and sound nothing like a sea shanty. Captain Beefheart would sing it.

  • I love the way this story, the character actually, is so absolutely in control as she goes absolutely haywire. I thought the writing was very tight, and the story moved at just the right pace to the conclusion. I needed to know no more and no less about the human shark bait.