Kristyn Dunnion Author of Mosh Pit
by Lily Suicide
April 16, 2006

Lovely Canadian born Kristyn Dunnion is an amazing author, performance artist, activist, and all around kick ass chick who Im lucky enough to have as a virtual mentor. She recently published her latest book, Mosh Pit. Do yourself a favor and pick it up!

Buy MOSH PIT

Lily Suicide: I loved Mosh Pit. It was a really amazing story. Were there any events in your own life or childhood that inspired characters or parts of your story?

Kristyn Dunnion: Thank you so much, Lily. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I think it’s important to stress that Mosh Pit is a work of fiction (especially in these present times of heavy litigation in the USA and recent literary scandals!). It’s a novel and the characters are, as such, purely fictional. That being said, there is a strange dance between fiction and inspired life events. For example, I see little bits of myself in almost every character. I remember feeling very much like Simone (the main character and narrator), especially when I was younger. But Simone’s life in the story is not mine. There are some story events that I’ve also experienced first hand, some that I’ve witnessed or lived vicariously through other people … During the writing process it was important to me that I let the characters live on their own, that they develop their own voices and responses. So even if I wrote about something personal to me, I wanted the character involved to handle it in her/his own way. That way they can have some resolution that I might not get in my own real life!

LS: Yeah, Totally, Thats how writing can be therapeutic, right? I was going to ask which character you would have related to most as a teenager and I guess now I know but it has always seemed kind of obvious to me that the narrator and author are close kin! So how are your amazing characters (Like Cherry and Simone) born? You said they evolve a bit as you write the story, but from the beginning you must have a little sense of who they are?

KD: Characters are born in different ways. Sometimes they just arrive, fully clothed, walking and talking and full of their own voice and attitude. Carlotta was that way for me – I knew her from the beginning although I experimented a bit in different edits. Simone’s voice was always there in my head although she was unnamed for most of the time that I was writing the novel, over a period of four years. The main tension between Cherry and Simone was at the core of this book, so that determined part of their personalities. The outrageous, dare devil toughness of Cherry really intoxicates Simone. Cherry is her Novocain, her drug. Cherry runs through her own life at this break-neck pace, seducing people along the way, scoring whenever she can, at whatever cost. Simone lives vicariously through her wildness, and also in opposition to it. That was the framework I started with and I had a lot of fun writing scenes to explore that dynamic more, take it up a notch higher each time. The wrestling scene definitely comes to mind!

LS: But although Simone was the narrator, you chose to show glimpses of the story through Cherry’s perspective, which made the book all the more unique. What made you decide to do that?

KD: Cool. I’m glad you asked. I really struggled with wanting Cherry to represent herself and not wanting her to become a two-dimensional after-school special “Addict” character. She even says something to that effect at one point. This was a case of the character demanding to do something that, as the author, I hadn’t planned to do. The blogs became a way for her to speak in her own voice, and also helped to move the plot along by informing the reader about certain events that Simone could not be present for. It ended up solving the problem that can present itself when you use a first person narrative to tell a story.

LS: Im totally flattered to be on the cover of your book! How did you choose the photos to represent Cherry and Simone?

KD: I had been a member of SG for a while and really liked lots of the photo shoots … I remember the first time I came across your set, remember thinking, fuck that is soooo Cherry! More than that, the photos from your shoot really captured a lot of things simultaneously; defiance, toughness, passionate daring and also a vulnerability that hit me in the gut. The photos really captured my impressions of rebel girlhood. Plus I really liked knowing that the person in the photo (you!) is a real person, an artist who might be able to relate to the book on some level. I hadn’t even read your blog/journals and wicked prose until much later. So your photo captured Cherry succinctly but also the bigger scene of tough chicas I wanted to bring to life. The other photos are actually old webcam shots of my girlfriend when she was 17. I liked the online connection because the characters not only work in online porn but also blog in their live journals as a form of communication with each other; Cherry has a blog in the novel and gets to speak directly to the reader that way.

LS: I just want to give a shout out to Missy for being so fucking cool about forwarding your e mail to me and giving me permission to let you use the picture for your book. so do you have another amazing book or projects in the making yet?

KD: Actually, I’ve got a few different projects on the go right now. Im finishing another full-length novel called BIG BIG SKY that should be coming out this fall (2006) on Red Deer Press. It is a futuristic cyber punk all chick extravaganza! Five military bio-pioneers trained as interplanetary scout assassins are threatened with extermination by the society that created them, so they escape into an unknown frontier with enemies in hot pursuit. Speaking of hot, theres some futuristic girl on girl action in this one! I have a short story in an anthology called Periphery: Erotic Lesbian Futures Edited by Lynne Jamneck (Alice Street Editions). This should be coming out very soon – it’s a hot collection of erotic lesbian science fiction stories written by some amazing authors. The third project that Im working on is a collection of queer fiction called DIRT. It’s a bunch of short stories from the street, different characters all in dire straights: bike couriers, punk squatters, bad cops, teenaged runaways, dealers, train hoppers, and DJs. I’m not sure when it’ll be ready, but probably in 2007.

LS: Wow, You are a busy woman. Your projects sound awesome. so how did you get involved with Red Deer Press?

KD: Red Deer Press is a small Canadian Press based in Calgary, Alberta a place Ive never even been before but Im very happy they took the risk in publishing my stuff.

LS: As are all of your fans! Im totally psyched and looking forward to your new projects, Lady! How do you feel about working with editors?

KD: Ive been really lucky to work with Peter Carver as an editor. He is YODA in the world of young adult and children’s literature in Canada, and a charming fellow to boot. He really taught me how to hone my writing and balance it out, how to write a novel. Lots of authors have nightmare experiences struggling with the editorial process but that wasn’t the case for me. He understood above all else that the language and content, the explicit nature of the story, was not negotiable. We didn’t always see it in the same way some scenes that I find hilarious were scary to him, for example -but he never censored me or the story in any way, and I am really happy about that.

LS: Thats rad, I also hear you are a comics fan, and you have you very own comic series called MUDFLAPS

KD: Yeah, I love comics and always have since I was a kid. Id love to send you a set of MUDFLAPS … they were a little preoccupied with issues of sexuality, with the street, with violence and revenge, all from a girls point of view. I have great revenge fantasies! I really miss drawing, but I haven’t had enough time to do that since I started working full time during the days.

LS: Please do send it! So what is your performance art like?

KD: I like to combine strong visuals with a powerful text in my performance pieces: extreme make-up, costumes, video footage and music, vocal distortion … I have been fixated with zombies for the past couple of years and have a series called The Zombie Love Project that includes sexy, undead go-go dancers and vintage zombie movie video clips. Often the piece will begin with a political issue that I want to talk about (war, rape, addiction, global inequities, western imperialism etc) and I start writing the text. I match that to the music, add sound effects I want to use. The visuals are very important and I usually dream them while listening to the music I want to use. I like to be scary/sexy/smart on stage. I want to make people nervous enough to get their attention, horny enough to watch and listen, and interested enough to think about or talk about the subject after the performance is over. Sometimes its more basic, though. Sometimes Im just acting out one of my pervy fantasies in front of an unsuspecting audience.

LS: That sounds way awesome. That sort of brings me to the next question: So you’ve been labeled an activist, what political issues are you particularly passionate about?

KD: Well, I really think the world could be a much better place in so many ways that it’s actually overwhelming. Some days I am full of hate and despair. I try to be positive about changes that are happening in the world, about people fighting back, resisting. I kind of gave up on the whole “march and yell and wave a banner style of activism, although I know its important for that to be a visible culture, a vibrant culture of debate and dissidence. I still love a parade (costumes and party spirit!) but lately I have been focusing on actions and on expressing my viewpoints creatively through writing and performance. I also see humane education, teaching people, especially children and teens, how to think critically about human, animal and environmental rights, as a vital and long lasting form of activism.

LS: I love you. Okay whats this about being an MC?

KD: Actually, that refers to mistress of ceremony as in I host parties: drag shows, burlesque cabaret, polyamorous weddings, and nude auctions …. Sadly, I am not a rapper.

LS: Oh, Thats awesome, although it would be way cool if you were in fact a rapper. Ha-ha. Speaking of which, I’m a huge hip hop head, I have to ask who your favorite rappers are?

KD: I love old skool: N.W.A., Public Enemy, Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy… I love the ladies: Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah, YoYo And I really like some stuff by The Sweatshop Union, a collaboration of Canadian rappers with some political messages. Basically, I love the beat and the power of language, so you cant go wrong with that.

LS: Last question, Listen up all you writers, what is your advice for aspiring writers?

KD: To an aspiring writer I say keep writing and keep challenging yourself as an artist. Don’t be afraid to try different styles and techniques, or to try and tell your story in new ways. Love language! Through careful reading you can mentor from the authors you really admire, even if they’re already dead. As for the publishing world, it’s a crapshoot. That’s a whole workshop in itself and it’s different in the US than in Canada. But in general, always keep working on new projects while you have finished work you are sending around to agents or publishers. Don’t take the rejections to heart because there will be a lot of that and it is no bearing at all on the quality or the importance of your writing. You have to really believe this last part to keep some optimism afloat, and to keep it all in perspective.

LS: Thanks for the interview, Lady, You are a huge inspiration. Keep rocking it!

by LILY SUICIDE