Chubstr Crush features profiles and conversations with women who inspire us. Alysia Angel’s Twitter profile description sums her up better than we ever could: Published queer femme writer with grit in her teeth and pearl handled guns in her pantaloons. Lambda Lit Fellow. Hair twirler. Day dreamer. We talked to Alysia about her upcoming book Holy Roller: A Graphic Memoir, and how you can help get it published.
You’re a writer, you work with LGBT at risk youth – you’re definitely keeping busy! Can you tell us about yourself in your own words?
Serving LGBT youth full time and writing are both hugely fulfilling and take up most of my time. When I am not working I am an avid thrifter, searching for pieces to add to my army of vintage dresses, and 1950s kitsch for my home. I am obsessed with evoking beauty all around me, and since I work for a non-profit, and have always been working class, yard sales and thrift stores are my design playground. I am wonderfully partnered for over 4 years and we have three dogs, pals who are utterly spoiled. I also spend a lot of time planning travels in my vintage travel trailer, learning more about 1950s and 1960s trailers. Let’s be clear here, I am totally a glamper.
How long have you been writing?
Honestly, ever since I could put a pencil to paper I have been writing stories and poetry. I wrote my first poem when I was 5 and my first short story by 7. I even had one of my short stories contested by a teacher who didn’t actually believe that a middle school age youth would use the phrase “thoroughly provoked” in a sentence.
How did Holy Roller come to be?
Holy Roller is my young life story. It has been a long time coming from a series of shorter pieces that began to collect on my window sill and I could no longer ignore their birdsongs. Writing about trauma and a young life inside it can be really hard to read in words only. I have a huge love of graphic novels and memoir because the illustrations have the ability to take a reader deeper and yet still feel netted in safety. I met an illustrator (Alison Klepatsky) at a party after watching her draw for a bit, and it became very clear after asking her to illustrate a few scenes that she was the perfect fit.
Did you know prior to meeting Alison that you wanted Holy Roller to be a graphic memoir?
I definitely knew that I wanted to make a graphic memoir. Often I became frustrated because I had this vision of what I wanted to make happen to complement my words. I was actually shopping illustrators and then by chance met Alison. She totally gets it.
Speaking of graphic novels, could you share a few of your favorites?
I am a huge fan of anything Lynda Barry does, especially her book Cruddy, A Child’s Life and Other Stories by Phoebe Glockner, Julie Doucet’s New York Diary and The Madame Paul Affair, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, anything by Ellen Forney, Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges, and so many more.
It takes a lot of guts to write a memoir. Opening up and sharing pieces of your life like that is a pretty personal thing. Why do you feel like your story needs to be told, and why now?
Touching on what I mentioned in my last response, as a writer and a long time activist of eradicating shame of abuse, queerness, and living life as a woman, I feel that I must tell this story. I have read graphic memoirs like Daddy’s Girl by Debbie Dreschler and been moved and at the same time broken down into my most marrow space. I am inspired by women who are brave enough to face their own shame and hold it to the light. Many of my friends and I share stories of our healing with each other, we become brave for each other. Holy Roller is just this.
I am telling my story to others, including all of the hilarity and dark humor I have been fortunate to find, in hopes that they will feel seen, and see me too.
What have you been reading lately?
I am very much into Black Girl Dangerous, Nicolette Mason’s fashion blog, and Chubstr of course. Since I am really into memoir with writing Holy Roller, I have been gravitating towards other memoirs. The thrift store has great old ones such as Merman, about Ethel Merman. It’s written exactly as she spoke. It’s brassy and absolutely dear. I am just about to dig into John Water’s Carsick once I have a moment to really enjoy it. It helps to have a partner who works at a library. I totally have the hook up.
After Holy Roller, what’s next for you?
Take over the world? Truly, if I meet my funding goal, and especially if I exceed it, I am going on tour with Holy Roller. I have another book I am working on concurrently, it’s fiction.