Today’s special guest author is Kat Meads who is chatting with me about her memoir (with a twist), Dear DeeDee.
Kat Meads is the award-winning author of 20 books and chapbooks of prose and poetry, including: 2:12 a.m. – Essays; For You, Madam Lenin; Little Pockets of Alarm; Sleep; and a mystery novel written under the pseudonym Z.K. Burrus. Her most recent publication, Miss Jane: The Lost Years, was a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year finalist in both literary fiction and humor. Her short plays have been produced in New York and Los Angeles. A native of North Carolina, she lives in California.
Welcome, Kat. Please tell us about your current release.
Dear DeeDee is a memoir-in-letters (with a surprise ending), a correspondence between a homesick-for-the-South aunt (the author), based in California, and her college-age North Carolina niece. From sharing family history the letters evolve to broader discussions of community, loss, love, literature, ambition and what it means to negotiate life as a female. In the sum of its parts, the book is really an investigation of what makes us—both genetically and circumstantially—who we are.
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea of older women sharing what they’ve learned out there in the world with the women who come after them. For me, that’s a very, very powerful concept and incentive.
Excerpt from Dear DeeDee:
Sunday, Sept. 8
Apparently your aunt has reached a stage in life when beaus of yesteryear “get back in touch,” seized with the urge to “meet for a drink” or “grab a cup of coffee.” The first fellow, prior to our re-meet, sent a meager spray of carnations with a “so looking forward” card tucked among the brown-edged blooms. Him I met for dinner at a god-awful Bavarian restaurant (his choice) and at the sight of me he exclaimed: “Damn it! You haven’t changed!” Was this his idea of charming? My brow furrowed—a swift start to a long ordeal. The next guy, over coffee, wanted to enlist my help in recasting our dating debacle as the best of times. I’d have none of it. He’d been a prick, was a prick, and—no skin in the game—I called him one. Infuriatingly he smiled and judged me “still feisty.” The third reconnector, I, with some difficulty, forced to pick up the bar tab because 1) I’d driven farthest and 2) he admitted he’d just “wanted to see which of us had more hair.” He still had plenty. Such entertainment should come with a price tag. But how I do go on when the nub of this rant is basic beware: don’t count on having seen the last of past lovers. Some roll back in with the tide.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was a late bloomer. As an undergraduate, I majored in psychology—which turned out to be not such a bad thing for an eventual writer. But it wasn’t until my late twenties that I felt even a little bit confident about what I was putting down on the page and a while after that before I began to identify as a writer—both to myself and to others.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work as a freelance business writer and until this past summer also taught as a core faculty member in Oklahoma City University’s low-residency MFA program. If the day ahead isn’t too crammed with other obligations, I like to stumble from bed directly to the desk and get to it. I have many friends who are late-night writers, but that schedule isn’t for me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Have to type everything. Sad but true: it’s impossible for me to read my own handwriting at this point.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A dog trainer. Actually, I’d still like to be a dog trainer.
Thanks for being here today, Kat.