Our Queer Art Interview

Interview in My Queer Art


What is your name?
Alan Lessik

Where are you from?
San Francisco

What kind of work do you create?
Novels and commentaries

What do you define yourself as? Or do you not? Why/Why not?
Novelist, storyteller and alan of all trades

How long have you been practicing?
Since the beginning, although I just wrote my debut novel.

What interests you about your medium or why do you use this medium?
I am a story teller. Fiction allows me to explore the perceptions of life around me and then transform those into something new, adding in connections that only exist in my mind. Words have their own stories so I get fascinated by how to best express their history while using them for my own purposes.

If not answered in a previous question, when were you first exposed to your art form?
In elementary school, I loved when it was the bookmobile day. I would buy as many books as I could afford and most of those were way over my age comprehension. Every book I read, took me to new places in the world outside my NY working class suburb.

What kind of work do you want to create, or what work are you inspired by that you would like to strive for/emulate?
In this time of homogenizing the homo into marriage and society, I want to capture the unique and distinctive ways of our experiences and lives. As queers we are not actually outsiders, we are the real insiders and our experiences and perspectives have much to offer the world. Queer identities give depth and meaning to a world that seems stuck in identifying everything in a dualistic male/female, yes/no. We provide alternative models of behavior, love and creativity.

Every artist loses inspiration, or has “writer’s block.” What do you do to push through it?
My ideas are like kimchi. They need to ferment, sometimes for hours and other times for weeks or months. I trust in my “downtime”. When I am in the midst of setting down some words, I will write until it is done or I am exhausted. In the morning, I do zazen for almost an hour and watch as the thoughts pass through my brain. I try not to hold onto anything in particular as I do this. Later on, when I start writing again, some of those ideas reappear on the page. I love editing and re-editing until I don’t. Then I stop and either send it off or put it aside for another fermentation period.

What is special about your work? What do you have to say that others don’t?
No one else is me. No one else can see or imagine what goes on in my head. No one else is interested in same exact things that I am. This is true for each of us. The challenge is celebrate the differences while placing them in a context of the familiar. My canvas is the wide world. I love traveling to places where I am not always fluent in the language and have to rely on my other senses to understand the place. I love to sit back and listen and watch and to make connections. My work reflects people and places real and imaginary.

What limitations do you find with your medium?
The skills for marketing a book are not the same as for writing one. Reading habits have changed and buying habits have also changed. Bookstores are harder to find and there are few publishers and outlets of queer identified works. Working with a small press means I have to do much of this on my own.

What do you want to tell artists who are just beginning their journeys?
Listen, not to advice, but to the world around you. Explore and discover what types of risks you are willing to take. Be open to learning continuously. Floss everyday, your teeth are important.

You are not allowed to use your medium anymore, what medium do you choose to begin and why?
I would do interpretive figure skating.There is so much more that you can do on the ice than you can do on a floor. It is the closest thing to flying that I know. I love the feeling of grace and beauty and expressing one’s heart to the music.

Are you currently working on a project you’d like to plug?
My debut novel is The Troubleseeker. The Troubleseeker follows the life of Antinio from his youth in Havana through his later life in Minneapolis, San Diego to his death in San Francisco fifty years later. Scenes of post-revolutionary Cuba, the Mariel Boatlift, seeking asylum, the AIDS crisis, mental illness, and aging as a gay man are vividly depicted in Antinio’s lifelong odyssey to achieve freedom and love. The narrator, the Roman Emperor and demigod Hadrian, also weaves in conversations with Cuban Santería orishas, Greek gods, and stories of his own past in this funny, thoughtful and deeply poignant novel.




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