Andrea Lambert was kind enough to answer a few questions about creative process as part of the Luna Speaks Interview Series.
Andrea Lambert is the author of Jet Set Desolate, Lorazepam & the Valley of Skin: Extrapolations on Los Angeles, and the chapbooks G(u)ilt and Lexapro Diary. Their writing has appeared in Luna Luna, OCCULUM, Grimoire and elsewhere. More information can be found on their website, andreaklambert.com.
What is your favorite creative medium?
I alternate working in multiple mediums: Novels. Plays. Creative non fiction. Flash fiction. Poetry. Mixed media oil painting. YouTube videos. Collage. My creative non fiction is most widely published, thus what I have am focusing on for now. I still write unpublished novel manuscripts for my own therapeutic amusement. There are terms in my will for them to be published after my death. Alternately, if anyone want to hack my iCloud and sell my unpublished works on the dark web, I would be honored. That’s some cult classic clout. Take this as an invitation, tech bros. As I can’t be paid, I would still like to be read.
What do you love about that medium (i.e. why do you create that way)?
What I love about creative nonfiction is the sheer brutal honesty. My life credo. Unavoidable tendency. I cannot tell a lie. All my work is based on reality. A mentally ill, unreliable narrator reality. In my occult writing: Luna Luna Magazine and Grimoire. The anthologies: Impact and Haunting Muses. I synthesize my Wicca practice and the tendencies of the voices in my head to present as ancestral or deceased domestic partner’s ghosts into paranormal creative nonfiction. My reality, my truth, is not as others.
How do you begin your creative process? For instance, if you are a writer, how do you get into a writing session?
If I am writing a play, I must first begin to auditorily hallucinate. Perhaps bought on by sleep deprivation or involuntary deprivation of prescribed antipsychotics. Happens. All of my plays are transcriptions of psychotic episodes. With auditory hallucinations presenting as multiple character dialogue. I am the only human in the drama. Get some very odd cameos. For my monthly food column for Entropy Magazine? Mental gears begin to turn throughout the month. Gathering gustatory material. Until the essay’s themes and topics are conceptualized. Finally, I brew a pot of coffee, sit down with my laptop and pound it out.
If you don’t mind me asking, how do you capture those hallucinations? Do you keep a notebook close by or are you able to remember?
Because I am on Disability, no job. The myriad psychiatric medications I take to manage my condition make driving a DUI on wheels in Nevada. Their pesky Oxytocin epidemic immobilizes legally prescribed patients, so I don’t drive. Therefore, I am pretty much always at home with time on my hands. Once the auditory hallucinations hit, I sit down immediately at my desk and start typing.
Where is your favorite place to create and why?
I have a MacBook Pro 15 laptop, Although heavy, it is an excellent workhorse for someone prolific. My favorite place to work is an 2005 black and white IKEA desk. Bookshelves at my right. This ancestral home’s guardian ghosts hover all around me.
What is your favorite music to create to and why?
While writing my novel, Jet Set Desolate, it was the RENT soundtrack. For a very long time between: Lana Del Rey. Lately Cardi B has stolen my ear with her badass swagger and confidence to do and say whatever she pleases. I am inspired by her to be more daring in my already transgressive work.
Do you find that what you are listening to sets the tone for what you end up writing?
With the RENT Soundtrack it did, because Jet Set Desolate’s urban drug addict demimonde intersected with the musical in multiple ways. When I lived in San Francisco doing all the cocaine, my friends and I once stumbled upon a part of South of Market closed off for RENT filming. When I watch the film I see the San Francisco mean streets of my youth.
However, as my writing has progressing in the ten years since. and become more creative nonfiction? I take the essence of what I am listening to rather than the content. Thus the benzodiazepine chill of Lana Del Rey led to relaxed recollections in a series of unpublished memoir novels.
Cardi B’s ruthlessness, lack of fucks given and willingness to do and say whatever she wants become driving forces in my Entropy columns. Translated through my own life experiences. To her attitude I owe the “innocent bloodbath” scene at the end of my December Entropy essay: “Nip Slips for Christmas.” I drew a pentagram on the bathtub floor of my own saved menstrual blood. Summoned the Virgin Mary, Hecate, Jesus and Satan in Latin. Bathed in the sacred blood of my womb. Scared some familial readers half to death, but que sera sera.
What piece of literature set you on fire most recently and why?
I’ve been reading a lot of Kristin Garth’s poetry in online magazines. Finding it exquisite. Ingrid Calderon-Collin’s poems always blows me out of the water. For inexplicable reasons the book I return to again and again is Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life. Although my novel debut ten year prior is a less monied, more hardcore version of the same drugs, clubs and mental illness downward spiral? The electric zing of Marnell’s glamorous prose always gets me in a blanket fort wearing Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium, glittery scarves and fur. Good times.
What literature or art magazines get you excited and why?
In print, I enjoy Juxtapoz for the Los Angeles art scene I left behind. Usually I read online literary magazines such as OCCULUM journal, Moonchild, Entropy and Luna Luna.
Where is one place that every person who considers themselves a “creative type” needs to travel to and why?
Given the financial limitations placed upon writers by a broken system, I wouldn’t dare presume. I am on Disability. Must live solely on a fixed income. Never commit fraud by selling paintings or writing. I always write inside my House of the Rising Sun. The coffee is free and the cats are friendly.
Fair point. Is there a particular “space” that you “travel” to regularly (figurative space, I mean)?
I rarely leave my home, except for go to my fiancee’s apartment downtown. However the space I think you mean is an internal spiritual space where magic is possible and hallucinations reality. The spare bedroom in my House of the Rising Sun is a Wiccan chapel. An altar with my own baby teeth, nails, silver crucifixes, candles, funeral cards of beloved dead etc… is surrounded my rings of tumbled rose quartz, amethyst and black Tourmaline. I go in that room to practice witchcraft and pray. I regularly walk down the hardwood hall to this spiritual space. Light candles and incense. Enter a mystical liminal space. Attempt to find power in a world where I am mostly powerless.
What advice would you give to your younger self about the creative process?
As Lana Winters says at the end of American Horror Story: Asylum, standing before her dead lesbian partner’s tomb, “I did it for the story. I just never knew how much it would cost.” I would tell my younger self that you will sacrifice all semblance of a normal happy life. Walk through fire that almost kills you and leaves you deeply scarred. At the end there is peaceful sanctuary. The satisfaction that having failed at almost everything real people do, you excel at a few non remunerative dead arts. I would also tell her: become an engineer instead.
What are you currently working on? This is a space for you to brag a little– what are your most recent pubs, etc.
I write a monthly column for Entropy Magazine called “Dining with a Cursed Bloodline.” It is about my tight knit Reno family. My own queer neurodiverse experiences with cooking and witchcraft. I am extremely thankful for my editor, Stephanie Tsank ,for giving me March off to go to AWP. I plan on writing her a brutal April column. About the pharmaceutical incompetence preventing me from attending after all, when I was a featured presenter and in two off sites. The food focus will be all the ice cream, energy drinks and RxBars I ate in bed grieving. It comes out the last Monday of the month. Archives on my website: http://andreaklambert.com
Where can readers find your books?
Amazon distributes my novel “Jet Set Desolate” and the anthologies. “Impact: Queer Sci Fi’s Fifth Annual Flash Fiction Contest,” “Golden State 2017: The Best New Writing from California,” “Haunting Muses,” and “Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices.” My Swedish poetry collaboration, “Lorazepam and the Valley of Skin: Extrapolations on Los Angeles / 730910-2155” is available from the valeveil publisher’s site. My chapbook G(U)ILT is out of print. My digital chapbook “Lexapro Diary: Events of January 22, 2007” is available at the Moonchild Magazine site.