Ask The Author: Suzanne Scanlon

Suzane Scanlon’s piece, “From Promising Young Women: Heather (#19)”, appears in the July issue. We asked her where the piece came from and she told us.

1. What kind of -some are you?

It depends on the day. Awesome, irksome, fearsome, lithesome, worrisome.

2. Are you going down?

Not these days, no. But I do have a fondness for the 90s, obviously.

3. Why do pretty people receive better care than average or ugly people?

Well, this is a fictional world, but I suppose it happens, that pretty people are overvalued and receive certain problematic preference in all areas of life. I’ve been an actress so I am especially aware of these inequities, though I think any casual observer can assess the way superficial biases spread to all areas of life, including healthcare. I’m interested in the double-bind of it—that women are valued for their looks–and yet often dismissed/diagnosed as narcissistic/egotistical for recognizing this—or, in some cases, for capitalizing on it. Obviously, the lens is skewed and ultimately dangerous—be careful what gods you create. I guess I’m more interested in the interiority of this perspective. That this, for the narrator, is meant to quell the distress of her subjective experience, yet ultimately interferes with or, at least, complicates her journey toward selfhood.

4. Where did “From Promising Young Women” come from?

It’s part of a book-length project focused on young women in a certain place and a certain time—comprising a world both real and unreal. I’ve been thinking a lot about female identity and performance—the way one might perform a self long before actually becoming a self. Or the way that what you perform might become who you are. Most of the pieces here are concerned with certain obsessions of mine—in this case, performance, the relationship between women and psychiatry, and, to some degree, my past—in particular, women I’ve known who made an impression on me at a very crucial point in my own coming-of-age.

5. Who would you want to play you in the movie about you writing this story?

I guess I set myself up for this one. I really liked Winona Ryder’s comeback in Black Swan—so there you have it. Or Ellyn Burstyn.

  • Great piece, great interview. 🙂