When did you start writing?
According to my mother, I spoke in full sentences before I was a year old. I've always loved books, and writing came naturally. I still have some elementary school memorabilia where I appropriated and restyled several of the Grimm fairy tales. The desire to write has always been there, although the bravado required to submit my work came after college. Learning to edit myself was the greatest challenge.
What was your first story about?
My first stories based on princess fantasies, although the women were never victims. I also had a serious adoption fantasy that I think is common in children with vivid imaginations who feel misunderstood. I resented being a kid, because I wanted to have a job and my own apartment.
I took this photo of a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story I wrote in Grade 4. It’s interesting for me to look back at this now, especially since I just launched the first of the ‘Grimm Recollections’ collaborations with artist Justin Hampton: http://www.justinhampton.com/Red.html… my warped take on Little Red Riding Hood.
How has your work evolved?
I used to be a lot more melodramatic. College taught me to shorten my sentences and develop my voice, although I think my work will always be a bit surreal and dreamy. Over a year ago I was hired as the Editor for www.thefashionspot.com, and that honed the logical side of my brain. Editing other people’s writing has helped my own work become more structured.
Where did you get the inspiration or idea for your book?
The Pin-Up Poet is a project I dreamed up before I moved to NYC in 2004. I have always been inspired by mythology and archetypes. I was really into Cindy Sherman, and I liked my self-portraits, but not for this project. So I decided to collaborate with professional photographers to create images to match the mood of my poems. And I always maintained that garter belts would trick someone into reading poetry! As far as my other work goes, the MINX project is inspired by mythology, and the fine line between dreams, reality, and fantasy.
What is your book about?
The back cover of ‘The Pin-Up Poet’ says it best: "This book contains the iconoclasts of the women trapped in my head. These women drink too much vodka, smoke to calm their nerves, and hide behind the armor of black clothing and lingerie. These women are at once lustful and neurotic, they burn cookies and they can’t sleep. They are both predators and victims, empowered by their choices to leave unhappy relationships, but lonely and haunted by the ghosts of old lovers. These revelations are paired with exquisite, highly stylized photographs, suggesting that a woman wearing garters has a wealth of memories, secrets and love affairs hidden under her veneer of glamour—and the juxtaposition of these two components is both beautiful and fascinating."
What do you hope readers get out of reading your book?
I hope they see themselves in my work, that they feel emotionally connected to it somehow, and that it provokes thought.
How long did it take to complete it?
It took two years to shoot the images, and a few months for the graphic design and proofreading. Since I am my own editor, I often have to put projects on the shelf for a while before they are ready to go out into the world. The work needs to breathe.
What does the book mean to you?
This book is an archaeological excavation of who I really am. I shed a few layers of skin, and showed full vulnerability. So here is the result.
Is this your first book?
This is my first poetry collection, yes. Three issues of MINX have been published, along with several spin-off projects. However, I have pulled MINX out of the stores with the intention of re-launching the series next year. So ‘The Pin-Up Poet’ is the only item you can buy from Copious Amounts Press right now, unless you know me in real life and convince me to give you some of the comic books hidden away in the cupboard.
What surprised you most out of this process?
How much people love and relate to this book. I have always felt like I was ahead of the curve, and that has been depressing a times. My god, I’ve always worried that people won’t fully understand my work until after I’m dead.
What was your biggest obstacle? How did you overcome it?
There have always been the same two recurring obstacles:
2. People understanding what it is that I am trying to do. And sometimes telling me that it’s not commercial enough, so it will never work.
The solution: Perseverance. I work really hard… my friends can attest to that. Will it matter in the end? I hope so. All I can do is to keep moving forward with full bravado, because what else is there? Failure is a state of mind.
Who did the photography? How did you choose the images?
Photographers include Chas Ray Krider, Viva Van Story, Shannon Brooke, James Graham, Ken Thurlbeck, Vlad Voloshin, Nicholas Routzen, among others. In the end, I chose images that illustrated the poems, which were cohesive.
How many models did you use? Or, are all the photographs of you?
It’s all me. Blonde and brunette, 5 lbs. up or down. I’ve always been a chameleon.
What was essential in your photo shots?
Trust. I’ve been a professional model since I was a teenager. I have worked with a lot of photographers and I need to feel like they are tuned into the same radio frequency as me. Otherwise, I scowl when I see the shots and think "this is not for me, this is for you". There are a lot of mediocre photographers out there. As time goes on, I am more and more selective as to who I will even work with.
Three words that describe the book?
Fascinating. Archetypal. Heart-wrenching.
Three words that describe you as an artist?
Mythological. Enigmatic. Fluid.
What is your dream for the book?
Well, certainly I hope that it achieves success, although I realize it’s an elaborate process to get the word out. My work is really not mainstream… although I am trying to mainstream MINX. But it’s unique, and enough people get it to make a difference.
What drives or inspires you?
Discipline. Leonard Cohen. Taoism. Music. Dreams. Mythology. My friends. Books. Martial Arts. Romance. The ocean. And when I feel beaten down, I think "Andrea, you did NOT move to New York to give up"! If I forget that, I call my brother, and he repeats that mantra to me in a stern tone that encourages me.
What inspired you to become your own publisher?
I don’t like waiting around for people to "get" my work. And I find pitching exhausting. I never mastered that perfect pitch letter. So I learned to do it all myself.
Which was harder, creating the book or publishing it?
Publishing. Proclaiming it finished, and having it go out into the world.
Any advice for anyone thinking of becoming their own publisher?
Get your work out there. There is nothing to lose. I used to need feedback, because I didn’t feel confident. Then I realized that no one really knows anything anyway. People’s opinions are subjective, so who cares?
If you could do anything differently on this project, what would it be?
In a fantasy world, some magician would suddenly appear and say, “Wow, your work is so important and this book is so valid that x-y-z Corporation is going to publish it (instead of the ghost-written memoirs of this year’s most popular brainless heiress) and you will never have to worry about paying the rent on your overpriced luxury apartment again!” Oh sure!
Do you plan on publishing other authors books?
No. I am too busy with my own work, and there is little profit in publishing.
What are you most thankful for in business?
My determination. This probably comes from visiting hell and making it back into the sunlight for at least six months out of the year, Persephone-style.
What are you most thankful for in life?
That I am somewhat loved, on whatever level. Whether it by my true-blue "I will help you bury the body" friends, or the acquaintances who flutter in and out of my life, imparting shards of wisdom… boyfriends, gentlemen callers… crazy family. It’s all a part of understanding humanity, and those moments of connection.
Where can we purchase the book?
On my site at www.andreagrant.com or via the direct Lulu link: http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-pin-up-poet/6314284.
Andrea also is an author of a candid blog that is a diary about her artistic process, struggles and inspiration. I wish her success with her new book. I hope you enjoyed getting to know her and her incredible story of unstoppable determination. Please pick up a book to discover her fascinating, archetypal and heart-wrenching creation. I know I am... I am inspired by her and I will remember "Failure is just a state of mind". Please let me know if you are inspired as well to keep your dreams moving forward.