Q&A with December 2012 grantee The Better Bombshell
The Better Bombshell is a forthcoming book that asks writers and artists to answer a simple question: Who is the better bombshell? This nonprofit literary and art project was the recipient of our December 2012 grant.
According to the forthcoming anthology’s website, “The project is centered around a simple void in modern media: the lack of positive, multidimensional female role models. Who do today’s young women admire? Who do today’s men covet? What earns our envy and our celebration, our lust and our love? [...] In a sharp contrast to the popular media, we’re asking some of the best creative, intellectual, and artistic minds of our era to do what they do best: provide new insights into the questions that most of us forget to ask.”
1. What was the impetus for this project? Where did you get the idea and how did it evolve?
The project actually started with a conversation about the similarities and differences between written and visual art. We’re fascinated by the different ways that people tell stories, and there’s this misconception that writers and artists have some mysterious and intangible process of inquiry and incubation. We wanted to demystify that, so we brainstormed about ways that we might encourage and nurture an accessible dialogue between writers and artists. Before we came up with the specific subject matter, we knew that we wanted to put together a collaborative book.
Once we had that concept in mind, we started chewing on specific themes for the anthology. Eventually we put together a handful of concepts and sent them out to our friends and family in an email to ask for feedback. Lots of people sent their thoughts, but the thing that fascinated us about the response to the “better bombshell” idea was that it got lots of thumbs-ups – and an equal number of thumbs-downs. If you get fifty positive responses and fifty negative responses, that information is a lot more powerful that a hundred halfhearted people saying “Sure.”
2. Can you share some of your learnings from the project?
Honestly, it’s been a steep learning curve. If we’d had any idea how big an undertaking this would be – fundraising, editing, self-publishing, learning how to promote a book, fostering relationships with bookstore and libraries – we would have been immobilized by fear. But we didn’t know any better, so we sprinted into the fire. In retrospect, I’m grateful for that bold naivety.
We’ve also learned – in ways that we’ll never forget – how valuable an artistic community can be. We’ve asked for every possible favor from everybody we know, and the response has been so encouraging that I’m humbled to tears. I was shy about asking for anything, but people are popping up out of the woodwork to ask how they can help this dream come true. Whenever we need something – whether it’s friends to wash dishes at fundraisers or just a late-night pep talk from a fellow writer who knows how mind-numbing book layout can be – the community rises up around us. We’ve always taken that fellowship seriously, but after this experience, we count that community as a family. We’re counting the days until we can give back – and we’re planning to become Awesome Foundation trustees as soon as we can!
3. What’s the reception to the idea been like?
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the project, which has been really inspiring. The book will be released on February 14, and it’ll be fun to actually get to share the results of all the work we’ve put in!
We’re learning that there might be some hard questions, as there are in any project that gets some press attention. But we welcome those questions, because our goal has always been to encourage discussion.
4. As if self-publishing a book featuring dozens of contributors wasn’t enough, we hear you’re planning a book tour/road trip. Can you tell us more about that?
We’ve got lots of exciting events coming up! The book will be released at a our launch party on February 14 at the Seattle Art Museum’s Sculpture Park – we’re planning a big swanky black-tie event with readings by the writers and viewings of all the original artwork. That weekend we’ll be taking the book to a local community college, the Washington State women’s prison, and the Elliott Bay Bookstore. On February 17, we’re working with the Foundation For Sex Positive Culture to present a discussion panel with the artists at the EM Fine Art Gallery.
After that big launch weekend, we’re planning to take the book to the Association of Writers & Publishers (AWP) Conference in Boston during the first week of March. Once we’ve gotten back from Boston, we’ll do some laundry, shave our legs, and take the book on a West Coast tour. It’ll literally be us in a U-Haul, driving from Tijuana to Bellingham. We’re hoping to hit all the public libraries, back-room bars, and quirky little independent bookstores. We’re also planning book tours on the East Coast and in Alaska, so stay tuned for more exciting plans!
The book can be pre-ordered from thebetterbombshell.com.