Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Friday, August 24, 2012

Laura Barcella, Causing a Commotion and Madonna and Me

Leading up to my 'Madonna and Me' talk at the Decatur Book Festival, I will be interviewing my fellow contributors.Today it's the editor of the anthology Laura Barcella. Laura has been kind enough to answer the usual questions as well as, wearing her editorial hat, a few extras too.  Laura's essay 'My Pocket Madonna' is about being in love with a not so nice guy who really really hates Madonna even though Laura really really loves her. My favorite bit 'Like lots of teenage girls, I'd given the idea of romantic love too much weight, too much power (aren't American girls taught, even encouraged, to think this way?). By the time I hit college-- Madonna still in my back pocket-- I understood intellectually that a woman didn't require a romantic relationship to be happy, but I found it difficult to apply that notion to myself."

And here's Laura herself.

Favorite Madonna song and why?
My favorite Madonna song is called "Causing a Commotion" -- it's from the "Who's That Girl" soundtrack. I love it because it's catchy and fun and dancey and highly underrated!

Favorite video and look?  
There are too many to name, but my favorite Madge video overall is probably "Like a Prayer." That video was controversial and semi-revolutionary; it had a huge impact on a lot of women I know, including many of the writers from "Madonna & Me." I love her look in that video, too -- barefoot, brunette, and naturally gorgeous. On the whole, though, I prefer early Madonna's look and style -- i.e. her punky ragamuffin look from the "Lucky Star" video.

Madonna with Nickie Minaj and MIA: Ultra Diva or Desperate?
Neither. I don't think Madonna is desperate. I guess she could possibly be considered a "diva," but... eh. I loved her "Super Bowl" performance and thought she did great that night.

 Can you tell us a little about your writing and revision process for 'My Pocket Madonna'?
I wrote my essay and revised it, maybe once, upon my editor's request. There wasn't much more of an extensive process beyond that. My essay is very personal and very intimate, so it was a bit difficult to write and I had some fear that the man I was writing about (my ex / first love) would read it and be ... upset. Of course, I didn't use his real name!  

What are you working on now? 
I have a day job as an editor for a website, and in my free time I'm freelance writing for various publications like Salon and The Fix. Also mulling over some new book ideas.

And Now Questions for Editor Laura

Where were you when the idea of the anthology first came to you?
I was sleeping. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea on my mind. I wrote it down and did some research the next day to be sure there wasn't already a book of essays by female writers on Madonna. There wasn't. :)

How long did the whole process take? Agent ? Publisher?
Getting a proposal together and securing an agent (Brandi Bowles at Foundry) took a few months. Then I had to revise my proposal and add more to it before my agent pitched it. Overall it took about a year for "Madonna & Me" to sell to a publisher. It took another year or so to get the book completed.

Was everything- editing essays etc...- easier than you expected or harder?
It was pretty much as hard as I'd expected -- I got a ton of submissions, and it was surprisingly difficult to narrow it down to 39 essays! But the process was really fun and totally worth all the details and effort.

What advice if any can you give to someone who is thinking of putting together an anthology
Try to stay as organized as you can with all the paperwork involved. I used a bunch of Google Docs and spreadsheets to keep track of who wrote what, how far along each essay was, and when things were due. There are a a ton of little details and small steps involved in putting an anthology together.

Laura's bio:
I'm a writer and editor currently based in San Francisco, California. My first book, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop  (an anthology of essays about Madonna by women writers), was published in March 2012 from Soft Skull Press. I’m also the author of an apocalyptic pop-culture guide called The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About… Before It’s Too Late (July 2012; Zest Books). My freelance writing (features, profiles, personal essays, and reviews) has appeared in more than 40 publications, including Salon, The Chicago Sun-Times,, the Village Voice, Time Out New York, AlterNet, BUST, ELLE Girl, and NYLON. My areas of expertise are pop culture, feminism, lifestyles, and music.

Buy Madonna and Me

Tomorrow Q & A with Joshunda Victoria Sanders

Read Q & A with Wendy Tokunaga  

Sept 1, 2012. Decatur Book Festival. Local Prose Stage. 3: 15.
Soniah Kamal will be talking about growing up Muslim with Madonna. She will also read from her essay 'Through the Wilderness'. Please join her.

1 comment:

Junaid Abbas said...

Nice article keep it up i like that.
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