At what point did you become aware of your sexuality and the effect it had on men?
When I was probably 13 or so. My breasts started coming and grown men looked at me differently. I LOVED the attention and totally used it. But the bad part of it all was that my dad was a player, so I didn’t really trust most men.
How was your early experimentation?
Non-existent: sex hurt. It burned. It was uncomfortable. I liked making out though, and I am amazed at how someone just rubbing up against me back then could lead to little pangs in my body. The “dry hump” sessions with my football team captain boyfriend were epic.
Why didn’t you two have sex – did it have to do with how you were raised?
We had a few lousy attempts at basic penetration, but it wasn’t “sex.” It was just horrible on all levels. I was raised Catholic, but the only real conversation I had about sex was “Don’t get pregnant, because you’ll end up on welfare and won’t go to college.” No one in my family associated sex with sin or hell, so it never really occurred to me as bad.
How did your dating and sexual experiences evolve from college onward?
I broke up with my college boyfriend when I was 23, and was suddenly single after seven freaking years. My next boyfriend was a fraternity guy and he had a huge dick. I was just AMAZED by how different his penis size was compared to what I’d had since I was 17 (I met my college boyfriend at orientation). The fraternity guy wasn’t a good lover though: he just made me realize I love men with nice penises and bold personalities. When I was 25 and left for grad school he cheated on me, and that just crushed my soul.
How did you regroup from there – did it liberate you sexually?
It did: I stopped seeing every man as a potential husband. My friends had done all kinds of shit, so I wanted to catch up – and by then I knew that men and their penises came in all shapes and sizes. I wanted to explore my options.
Tell us a bit about how you came to be a fiction writer.
My grandmother – the matriarch of our family – raised me in a nurturing environment. She always said great things about my writing and totally indulged my love of reading. She even bought me those “true romance” short story magazines in junior high. I liked how stories made me feel, and how other people felt when they read my stories. I’d write something and give it to my grandmother, and she’d haze family members into reading it. I did the same in college. I’d sit in my dorm room with the door open and folks would come by like, “Got any more of those stories?”
What was your major, and how did you parlay those college writing experiences into something greater?
English and Creative Writing. I started as an Editorial Assistant out of college. Once my first boss realized I could write, she kept saying I should pursue it. After I became an editor I realized I didn’t want that lifestyle forever. There was little free time – even on weekends. I decided to go to graduate school to learn to write professionally. Really, school seemed like the only way out. I guess things worked out OK – that was 12 years ago now.
What made you focus on love and relationships in your novels, as opposed to another type of fiction?
I like reading about love – romantic or otherwise – so that just came naturally. Most of the scenarios in my life are either about love or getting closer to it. Even in science fiction, I am most attracted to the love story, you know? At the root of Goodfellas is a love story.
What makes a good, believable love story?
Adversity. Complexity. Characters finding each other as whole, complex beings that have wants, desires, fears and flaws that extend beyond the domain of the love affair, but still affect it. The love story that affected me most as a girl was in Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. In the book, the guy Milkman (whose name is allegorical) just won’t settle down with lower class and darker-skinned Hagar. He just keeps stringing her along until she goes crazy and in one scene says something like, “Why doesn’t he love me???” Anyway, once she realizes it will never be, she just DIES because he won’t love her. I was a kid when I read that and it just crushed me. But what I caught onto was that life is so complex: even in love, no love story is just ‘people hooking up’. Hagar had an amazing life at home with her mother and grandmother, while Milkman had so much shit with his crazy mother. They were actually not a horrible couple, but the world made Milkman a certain kind of asshole and had scarred Hagar (whose name is also allegorical).
Wonderful insight. How have your own romantic experiences informed your writing?
I know for sure that the universe is filled with trial, error, epiphany and resolution. Beginning, middle, end – it’s the law of the universe. Something beautiful is ALWAYS waiting around the corner, just when you least expect it. I honestly believe that, and I try to give my characters that pleasure. I know that’s why readers tune in – as a reminder that something sweet is waiting tomorrow. In the church they have this saying when the pastor gets excited about resurrection – he says, “But come Sunday Morning…!” Love is a Sunday Morning: in what I’ve read, in life and even in my fiction. Guess that’s what I write about – bad weeks that lead to Sunday Mornings.
Example: after my dad died, A BAD time – right? Years later, I was talking to his first wife and she mentioned how excited he was to be having a daughter when he learned my mother was having a girl. Here was this 26-year-old man telling his WIFE about his mistress being pregnant with me, and he was so excited that he made his wife excited! She showed me a scrapbook where she’d written my name down MONTHS before I was born. I’d spent all my life thinking I was a mistake. Come to find out, daddy loved me before he met me, and defended my presence in the face of his wife – which was why she ALWAYS accepted me. Now that’s a Sunday Morning!
That’s truly profound. Has your writing affected your approach to relationships?
I will say you can plan stories, but you can’t plan life. Like, I sometimes think I am story boarding: it can lead to me judging people as villains, or trying too hard to make pieces that don’t fit together match up. It can be hard for me to just sit back and let shit happen. I can overthink (I am often told that). I am always thinking. It’s hard to turn the brain off or wonder what people who don’t think do all day.
Thanks so much for sharing with us Ginny. Where do you see your love life and writing both going from here?
My love life? Who knows…I think I am learning that. I can’t even predict where it will go. I have come to the conclusion that I am odd (LOL), and the right one for me will either be equally odd or willing to accept my oddness. My brother once told me I would be a hard match – he was so right. I think I’ve stopped fighting it, because Lord knows I don’t work well with “regular” men. My prayer? A lover who is more of a friend, and who wants to have a great fucking time. There’s this line in Their Eyes Were Watching God where Teacake says to Janie, “Seems like you were saving up all your young years for me.” I think when I meet my husband I’ll be 22 again, and we’ll just fuck around a lot. Then I’ll somehow end up with like three kids and a fat dog and cooking and writing all day…my dream life!