They're Shameless

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They're Shameless

Nathaniel G. Moore’s Conflict of Interest column appears biweekly.

Toronto’s Shameless Magazine (first appearing on newsstands in June of 2004) has teamed up with Toronto’s Tightrope Books and a slew of writers on June 23rd at the Gladstone Hotel as part of This Is Not A Reading Series to launch She’s Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back. (Full event details are here). I spoke with co-editor Stacey May Fowles about putting the book together, and what she expects, and what we can expect at the mega-launch.

NGM:

In the press material it states that the book is founded on Shameless magazine’s tradition of smart, sassy, honest and inclusive writing that reaches out to young female readers who are often ignored by mainstream: freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists and activists." How does the anthology differ from the magazine or does it?

SMF:

The book obviously differs because it's a collection of creative non-fiction narratives, but the idea certainly germinated from the general tone and feeling of the magazine. We're trying to accomplish much the same things in the book as we do with the magazine - opening up a realistic, inclusive, supportive and positive dialogue with young women while attempting to represent a broad range of experiences.

NGM:

When exactly did the idea for She's Shameless come about and how did you go about finding writing to convey the anthology’s message?

SMF:

I think the idea of doing a book project has always been with the magazine, even before Megan and myself came on board. In fall 2007, things just really fell together. I was chatting with Tightrope publisher Halli Villegas about the idea and she loved it immediately and was extremely supportive from the start. The magazine's founders, Nicole Cohen and Melinda Mattos, were very supportive of Megan and myself running with the project.

We made the call for submissions as wide as possible. Very few of these pieces have been solicited from writers; it was important to us that we draw from the pieces we received from a broad public call rather than picking contributors from writers we knew in the community. We didn't want to narrowly dictate the messages the book would send, and the result was really inspiring. We received fantastic pieces in a huge range and then assembled the book by picking not only the strongest pieces from a writing perspective, but also by reflecting very different teenage experiences.

While some of our writers are definitely well-established literary and feminist writers, others are being published for the first time, which is exactly the kind of forum for dialogue Shameless aims to foster.

NGM:

For those not familiar with the magazine, do you hope this anthology will provide a pathway to new subscribers and readers?

SMF:

Of course we hope so, but I think just by means of the medium, magazines tend to have a broader reach than books. We do however hope the book will make it onto the YA shelf next to something like, say Twilight, so teens who don't usually find a book that reflects them may pick it up and become familiar with the magazine as a result.

NGM:

What do you hope people reading She's Shameless will take away from this collection?

SMF:

Probably best to quote our introduction on this one: "We hope that the personal stories in this book inspire and empower you in the same way they did us. More importantly, we hope that in a world that constantly pushes girls to be something they’re not, you’ll see your experiences and yourself reflected in these pages. No bullshit. No caricatures. No shame."

NGM:

What can the folks here in Toronto expect at your keen June 23rd event, She's Shameless / She's Writing, which also promises an early '90s-themed Sadie Hawkins Prom in addition to some post-workshop monologues crafted by teens under the guidance of Toronto's Ibi Kaslik. How did this pay-per-view calibre event come together?

SMF:

Above and beyond anything, they should expect a good time. It's a great chance to celebrate our contributors and their honesty, courage and passion for the project, along with encouraging a new generation of teen writers to tell their unique stories. Also, dancing. Lots of dancing.

As for how it came together: very easily, actually. So many people were on board to help us without any question except "where do I sign up?" With Shameless, we constantly have people who are so generous and willing to help in any way they can. It's truly wonderful, and we think it's so encouraging that people believe in what we're trying to do with both the magazine and the book.

NGM:

Are there other Shameless related anthologies in the works? I read on the Shameless site that this is the inaugural collection?

SMF:

Like anything with Shameless, we dream big and it's just about getting the money and the time to work to make it happen. We have so many exciting projects on the go at any given time, and another book is definitely in our minds. Probably best to launch this one first!

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