David Naimon: Today’s episode is made possible by Northwestern University Press and their new release, Fire Is Not a Country: Poems by Cynthia Dewi Oka. In her third collection, Indonesian-American, Poet Cynthia Dewi Oka dives into the implications of being parents, children, workers, and unwanted human beings under the savage reign of global capitalism and resurgent nativism. With a voice bound and wrestled apart by multiple histories, Fire Is Not a Country claims the spaces between here and there, then and now, us and not us. Listeners receive a 20% discount on Fire Is Not a Country or any other title with promo code pod20. This offer is available at nupress.northwestern.edu. Today’s episode is also brought to you by Kyle Lucia Wu’s debut novel Win Me Something, which T Kira Madden calls, “A resonant knockout.” The novel tells the story of Willa, a biracial Chinese-American woman who finds herself questioning who she is and revisiting a childhood where she never felt fully at home after taking a job, working for the Adrien’s, a wealthy white family in Tribeca as a nanny for their daughter Bijou. Says Crystal Hana Kim, “Win Me Something is an observant, contemplative story about the complex reality of growing up with a mixed identity in two starkly different mixed families. Kyle Lucia Wu deftly weaves back and forth between Willa’s teenage years and her adult life to explore loneliness, uncertainty, and a singular, persistent question—where do I truly belong?” Win Me Something is out now from Tin House. Before we begin today’s conversation with interdisciplinary artist Tice Cin about her debut novel, I wanted to mention something that was a first for the show. With each guest, long before we actually talk, I ask if they would be willing to contribute something to the bonus audio. I do this in advance so they have time to think about it in case they are willing to contribute something. Sometimes, this is straightforward. What they think of is what actually materializes. For instance, Philip Metres and Arthur Sze, both reading some of their translations of poems from the Russian and Chinese respectively. Other times, what we decide upon changes because of the conversation we end up having. Alice Oswald didn’t know that Anne Carson was going to ask her a question during our conversation and in the end decided her contribution to the bonus audio would be a response to Anne Carson. Neither Kaveh Akbar or myself knew in advance that part of our conversation about his book would be about one specific poem that he loved but that didn’t quite fit in the collection, so was left out. After the fact, he decided that him, reading and talking about this poem, In Praise of the Laughing Worm, would be a particularly compelling contribution. But when I reached out to Tice Cin, her response took me by surprise. She said she would love to contribute something but that she wanted me to give her a writing prompt from which she would write something entirely new for the occasion. So Tice’s contribution, a poem, is something written especially for us in response to a prompt that I created especially for her. Because of that, I’m part of this bonus audio this time, reading my prompt. I won’t read the prompt here but what you’re going to learn shortly about Tice’s novel is not only that food plays a significant role in the book, not just as a multi-generational passing down of knowledge and love, not just as an instrumental part of the smuggling activity in the part of the story that is a crime story, but also formally speaking, that the shape of the book and methodology of how it unfolds is related to the physical shape of one particular food. My prompt to her is in the spirit of this as well. To find out more about how to subscribe to the bonus audio and to check out the various other potential benefits of transforming yourself from a listener to a listener-supporter of Between The Covers, from rare collectibles from past guests to becoming an early reader for Tin House, receiving 12 books over the course of the year, months before the general public, head over to patreon.com/betweenthecovers. Now, for today’s program with Tice Cin.
These stories are about to get unleashed. They’re about the wildness contained in all of us. “I think stories have some magical effect in the world. I think it’s really hard to live without stories and if somebody tells you this is the way you’re going to end up, you’re lucky if you can forget that.” “There’s me and then there’s writer guy me, and then there’s me working, which is the absence of me. It’s just a story.” “I had no idea how to write a novel. I didn’t know if it would ever come to fruition. I was working at a vet and lint-rolling puppy hair and cat dander off myself.” “They’re almost like really shy animals. They will come out of the woods but you have to stay very still and you have to pretend like you’re not interested in them.” “Artists tend to put their fingers in the wounds in the silences.” “I believe in the role of literature as a catalyst for dialogue and new forms of thinking.” “All the stuff I’m interested in is thrown into the washing machine that is my brain and it’s put on a spin.”
David Naimon: Good morning. Welcome to Between The Covers. I’m David Naimon, your host. Today’s guest is interdisciplinary artist, Tice Cin. Cin has a master’s in English from University College London and is an alumnus of the Barbican Young Poets programme where she now creates digital art. Art that explores what it means to be human when technology is changing everything as part of the Barbican Centre’s Design Yourself collective. She’s the recipient of a London Writers Award for Literary Fiction and her writing has been commissioned by venues from Battersea Arts Centre to St. Paul’s Cathedral. She’s performed her work everywhere from the Tate Modern to the Mayor of London’s Eid Festival. Tice Cin has worked at both SAGE Publishing and the Poetry Translation Centre where she serves on their advisory board. She’s also a consultant with the community project, New Muslim Stories and she’s currently community manager for Tilted Axis, a press founded by Deborah Smith, the translator of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, which focuses on translated literature but which is also exploring alternatives to current status quo hierarchies where certain languages, forms, and certain forms of translation are elevated above others. Tice Cin is also a producer and DJ. She’s creating poetic sound portraits with the composer Pietro Bardini that highlight the sonic beauty of linguistic and dialectical crossings. As part of Threads Radio, she’s interviewed everyone from founders of theater companies to music journalists. She herself has been a music journalist, writing everything from music reviews to reviews of concerts and music festivals. She’s also releasing an EP to accompany the release of her debut novel, the one we’re talking about today, Keeping the House, just out from And Other Stories. The Guardian calls Keeping the House, “A cult classic in the making, describing it as, “A kind of textual collage offering vistas of the Turkish communities of north London, often impressionistic chapters that glitter with inventive descriptions.” The Stinging Fly says, “This is Cin telling the reader how Keeping the House is going to go: it will read like memoir, it will read like crime fiction, it will read as snappy dialogue in a screenplay, it will be peppered with truncated lines where a full sentence will let too much air in. There will be poignant segments about great friendship and great loss, surveillance and violence and the weight of gender, what happens when we lose our grip on our own stories. There will be hairy gangsters taking the piss out of one another.” At The Skinny, they say, “Keeping the House is a refreshingly unique and vivid debut. The novel expertly interweaves questions about family, community, trauma and belonging into episodes that are often humorous, sometimes heart-breaking but always poetic. Tice Cin manages to offer the reader a totally new and exciting narrative style that feels fresh, confident, and powerful. It captures the buzz of London life and lifts the lid on the vibrant culture of the Turkish Cypriot community.” Finally, Gayle Lazda at the London Review bookshop says, “A brilliant London novel, the kind we need more of: polyphonic, multilingual, thrillingly alive with all the people, food, music that make this city what it is.” Welcome to Between The Covers, Tice Cin.
Tice Cin: Thank you so much. It feels strange to hear it all in one go but very lovely. I’m a big fan. I’m happy to be speaking with you today.
DN: I’m happy about it too. One of the things that really distinguishes this book is your attention to the specifics and particulars of place. By place, I don’t mean England or London but more specifically the neighborhood of Tottenham. I read that your early working title for this book was A Love Letter to Tottenham. I wouldn’t normally ask you to orient us in this way but you’ve talked about wanting to guide us in other interviews and wanting to even tour us through the neighborhood where you grew up. I suspect most of your British readers at least have associations with this place when they read you. But given that now we’re talking and being listened to in North America, I suspect many readers have little or, perhaps, no association with this neighborhood. I wondered if we could start here with maybe an introduction. I was hoping you’d be willing to give us two perspectives. One, if you were meeting new people here in the United States or Canada and we’re describing Tottenham, what would you say? Two, how do you think it’s perceived by the rest of London?
TC: When I’ve spoken to my friends in North America before, Bill will jokingly say, “Oh, it’s the place where Adele grew up.” But something that’s the most global way that I ever saw Tottenham spoken about was in relation to the riots that began there and the most recent ones as well, just a few years ago. I think it’s a site that always pushes back against police surveillance and against the strictures of a government that is quite binding towards people who struggle in poverty. That’s the place where I grew up. We would walk down the road and someone would hand you a block tape, and there’s music everywhere and the community harbours one another. I have a lot of friends in New Jersey and we seem to speak about the two areas in quite a similar way, the sense of being adopted by strangers and having a lot of different pockets of solace where I think sometimes, when I think about my village in North Cyprus, it’s not quite the same because people have a familiarity with you in a village like North Cyprus that also gives them conditions towards you, whereas in Tottenham, and certain communities like this that I think are quite specific to cities and bigger towns, there’s an anonymity that gives you a greater opportunity for friendship and a greater opportunity for running away.
DN: As I did a casual search on the neighborhood, just a random Google search, of course, you learn that it’s very multicultural, a large Afro-Caribbean population, considerable Asian and Jewish populations, but quickly, you see most of what gets put forth is gangs and crime, syndicates and drug wars, and the London riots of 2011, which began there after a police shooting, and how the Turkish mafia controlled more than 90% of the heroin market in the UK. But what’s really evident both in what you’ve just described and what the experience of reading Keeping the House is that you seem to invert this way of describing a place. Yes, your book takes place among Turkish Cypriot heroin traitors in Tottenham, but in a strange way, it feels like that’s beside the point and it’s matter-of-factly delivered. You’re not glamorizing anything. You don’t reduce the place to its most-obviously reductive elements. It feels like you’re being lovingly attentive to it, the good and the bad but that the people are going about their lives, of course, like anywhere; paying the bills, making food, falling in love, being betrayed. I guess I wondered if this is just the way you write about place spontaneously or whether there’s also a part of you that’s writing against a stigma or a stereotype.
TC: I think this writing felt more subconscious but it became more apparent the further I got into the manuscript. I noticed that when we speak about places where the reputation precedes themselves, it’s often quite rushed. I really wanted to linger when we’re thinking about the working title. I always knew I was going to change it but I gave it to myself because I wanted to remember that with a love letter. When Keats wrote his love letters, they were always very still and they paused, and let the feelings soak through. I wanted to write like that about the place. I wanted to feel that I had the luxury of looking around. Especially when writing about topics that are loaded with danger, often, in real life, I can’t stand in certain rooms for too long to observe as many details. I think writing about some of these mafia bosses, sitting room spaces, and seeing them sitting there alone before any action takes place, I felt quite emotional about that, writing about stillness, about a man with a blanket over the top of him even though he’s got this horrible stuff going on around him. I think that was the case with all my characters. I try not to hate any of them.
DN: I never feel like someone is set up to be headend in the book. I feel like one of the ways you retell the story of this place is by centering the women. The book is polyvocal and there are plenty of men who, at various points, take the microphone. But the backbone is three generations of women, and the book opens with them. Because it opens with them, we see, hear, smell, and think quite differently or we experience those things through these particular three women. You’ve mentioned that when men write crime fiction, there’s very little room for fragility. I was wondering if you could talk, as you’re mentioning here, the stillness in the Keats letter, and these moments of stillness and hear also about fragility. If you could talk more about this choice of centering the women and how that transforms everything from the tone to the point of view.
TC: I often wonder when we see a character who is less represented within quite a popular topic whether it helps us to revisit the topic too. I think characters like Ayla are women who are often sidelined. Single moms who have these great ideas, something that always strikes me as having these types of women and pointing out that the ideas were theirs to begin with. It personally happens to me quite often. I think it’s one of those running anecdotes where you’ll suggest somebody pulls the plug out from the back of the speaker that’s blowing up or something like this, take the plug out from the amp, then suddenly, the amp will get fixed, then people will say, “Oh well, women cannot fix an amp.” But she would have fixed the amp if you’d have heard her suggest it. I’m hoping that there’s this reality that’s pointed out through this. That all these lost voices within a certain trade humanize things further but also build a larger picture. When we look at Goodfeathers, we see women flashing drugs down the toilet and these other iconic movies, and women are always present. I’m trying to make the women in my stories do something different to those women. Their sisters, yes, I think my characters do speak to the canons of a crime fiction written by men, as well as by women but I’m hoping that my characters, because they’re written from a queer fund perspective, I think that it maybe allows for something slightly less seen to take place.
DN: I just read your new piece. I just read it this morning in Lithub, the new piece Notes on Queerness and Camp in Crime Fiction. You were talking there about how queerness will often get put forth in a very simplistic way in these narratives and that you were looking for more capacity for portrayals that involved both an overlaying of possibly contradictory or countervailing components in them in the way that a character is shown. That just made me feel like the choice to start with women and also to open the book with food, then ultimately, all the ways in which cabbages are involved in this book, because you’re not talking deeply in this new essay in Lithub about cabbages but I can’t help thinking about how you’re talking about the layering of leaves in this essay around queerness and the ways you’ve talked about cabbages in this book. We open the book with the smells of food cooking in the kitchen and the garden becomes a place the book continually returns to. But cabbages are a significant role in the plot as a way Ayla figures out how to smuggle heroin in the heart of a cabbage. But you’ve also said that cabbage influences the form, which I’ve alluded to. But since this is a historical moment, when we look back in 20 years after there have been several decades of cabbage-shaped books across the world and remember this moment of talking about the cabbage form emerging, talk to us about the cabbage form of Keeping the House.
TC: Oh, what a delightful question. I originally saw it as a heroin scented cabbage. When I first started writing the book, if I put the heroin plot in the middle, then perhaps it can fill this strange subversion where you’ve gone from what appears to be a coming-of-age novel into a crime fiction, then out. I absolutely love playing with genres. Then on a personal aspect, I think writing about Damla’s coming into her own and starting to understand who she is, and how her life experiences have affected her, I think by availing that through those various leaves of plot, I was able to pillow her experiences and build sympathy with the reader. Sometimes, when you nest the heart of a book in a lot of other plots, I see I often do this with my poetry. I’ve seen a lot of other really brilliant writers such as Raymond Antrobus do the same.
DN: He’s coming on the show next month actually. [laughs]
TC: I really like him. If you nest things, it gives your reader time to come with you. That’s almost been my hope. I think about with a cabbage, you cut it open and it looks like a brain. I just think all these webs and having that drawing in front of me while I was writing the book really helped me to understand the plot from the perspective of having complex PTSD where I sometimes lose my concentration, and just keep returning to this sense that I didn’t have to write in one line, I could instead keep gathering things. I suppose I wanted to gather them as if they were items along the way for us to get somewhere. I think sometimes, with plot, it feels friendlier to do that. I’ve often seen people disregard non-linear narrative and call it a plague of Tumblr extracts published as books. I’ve seen a lot of people say things like this. It sounds like I’m just quoting one person but there’s a big discourse around this. There’s worry that the Gen Z and millennial writers have ruined the novel. Of course, that’s not true because I think if people have been writing non-linear novels for at least 100 years, even the word novel feels weird, that’s why I was going to go and say hundreds or so but foreign people, people from other countries and in Argentina, they’ve always been open to non-linear narratives. I think for my next book, I’m also writing it with a cabbagey thing. I’m going to chuck something in the middle of the cabbage and slowly build the book around it. [laughs]
DN: When you said earlier that it really helped you to have the drawing of the cabbage, that’s true that you would draw out leaves of the cabbage and connect them to narrative threads, like visually having the drawing of a cabbage is part of your organization?
TC: Yes, I like to have some images. I think it provides a tool point.
DN: I love that.
TC: Thank you.
DN: The 19th Century Turkish Cypriot outlaw, Hasan Buli, he’s mentioned in passing in Keeping the House a story of him escaping capture yet again, but this time by dressing as a woman. It was interesting to read outside of the book about him because he was seen by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots at the time as fighting against British colonialism on Cyprus but that ultimately, over time, the Greek epic poems and the Turkish epic poems diverge with the Greeks, emphasizing more of his negative qualities, reducing him to more of a bandit and the Turkish making him more of a hero. But really either way, he becomes this larger-than-life mythic figure in Cypriot culture. I bring him up not because he’s important, or maybe he is important to this book, but he seems to be brought up in passing in this book, but two or three years ago, you were on a podcast called Bedtime Stories for the End of the World where you chose to retell the hero folklore of Hasan Buli but from the perspective of his lover. You talked about how women, similar to what you just said about Goodfellas, are both marginal and flatter as characters in the story of the hero. I guess this probably also connects to this notion of the deconstruction of this certain shape of what we expect of a novel that you’re talking about that’s getting critiqued around Tumblr extracts too. Here, it feels like by centering the book or centering this retelling of the story in the podcast with the lover, so the hero’s doing some grand escape, which he does over and over again, but we’re staying with the life of the lover, not with these escapes that are happening elsewhere. That somehow feels like a portal to this book, to me, this choice because you could have given us a female hero in this book, but instead it feels like you’ve gotten rid of heroes altogether. But I would actually take this a step further and say you’ve almost gotten rid of protagonists as strange as that might sound, because the book feels really unstable in a really interesting way around whose story it is and for how long. I was hoping maybe you could talk to us about the point of view in Keeping the House in this light.
TC: I never intended to have a protagonist in Keeping the House. I think I wanted to tell the story of this apparatus, which is I think not just the North London heroin trade but more the idea of a community that expels you, then also swallows you. People pass like buses in that way. We don’t know how long we can stay with them in real life. To bring it back to complex PTSD as well, you don’t really know when the next thing is going to occur. You don’t really know how long a person is around for I think I write from a place of loss. When writing about characters like Makbule and the fragility of her memory from PTSD-induced dementia, I hope to really draw out this as much as we can get from someone before it’s their turn to go. With that poem I wrote for Bedtime Stories, this girl, Hassan Buli’s partner, as I say in the book course as well, she’s left to pick up the pieces. I do often wonder about how juggernauts of a trade leave people to pick up pieces and how much of that can be comical. Sometimes, it is literally flashing things down a toilet and hiding things under your sink, then some of it is raising children with an absent father.
DN: Could we hear the opening to the book? I’ve heard you read it several times in various contexts. I just love the way you open the book for us and with your own voice.
TC: Thank you so much. I haven’t read it for a little while as well, so it’d be nice to return to it. This comes in right after a cast list that is slightly like a telenovela.
[Tice Cin reads from her debut novel from And Other Stories called Keeping the House]
DN: We’ve been listening to Tice Cin read from her debut novel from And Other Stories called Keeping the House. Beyond cabbages, there are many other ways you’ve created entirely new forms in this book. One of them we notice right away on page one, something that goes throughout the entire book and that is a secondary set of words that are smaller, and in italics and sometimes appear in the margins, sometimes appear above a word, and sometimes interrupt the main text with a square of text that the primary text has to flow around. Some of this is explanatory. You’re telling us what something means in the primary texts or you clarify a name. But sometimes, these secondary words are indicating a change in the language that’s being spoken. I haven’t seen anything really like this. I guess the closest thing visually might be Max Porter’s Lanny. I know he’s been a mentor and editor for you with this book but he isn’t changing the type setting for the same reasons I don’t think, or the same purposes. I was hoping maybe you could talk about the desire, both to include the explanatory notes and orient us with them in a way that changes the visual aspect of the page, and also to flag us to when language is shifting or shifting back.
TC: I really wanted to make sure that when using other languages within Keeping the House, that they were never in the margins and they were never italicized. It felt important to me to make sure they stayed within the body of the text. This is not to poke buttons at other people who have done that but I think for me, I felt like when writing about multilingual communities, it’s important to look at the way words run into each other. They felt something quite empowering to see the English being put in the margin and sometimes see the English wrap around the Turkish term. It felt like I didn’t have to make a sacrifice with language. I could show people as it was being said. I always wanted to have that going through. I write this book as is, and don’t render it for a reader in such a way that you lose the immediacy of a conversation that has to keep running forwards. People don’t stop to translate themselves. They often don’t even realize when they slip into another language. Sometimes, they do it with someone who doesn’t speak the language back. I love that. I love this way that we surprise each other and surprise ourselves with how much we can forget the various tongues, and codes that we use. In terms of typesetting, I wasn’t sure what would be possible. When I first started writing the book a couple years ago, I experimented with putting the English around the Turkish or the Kurmanji terms, then I thought it wouldn’t be possible, so I put it into the margins and into footnotes, then I just kept trying to play around with it. When I met Max and we started speaking about him editing me, he said to me like, “You can do it. It’s no problem.” I was worried that because I was a smaller publisher, that there wouldn’t be the budget for typesetting like this. It’s all hand-drawn. A lot of love and care was put into it but fortunately, Stefan Tobler and Emma Warhurst were both very passionate about making sure that happens. I’m really happy that Max also told me to go through it. I think I realized I’ve been lucky because I think a lot of people who are fresh into getting their books published aren’t told by somebody that you can ask for things. We just sack off those queries before we’ve even made it to the meeting room. I think this book really feels to me like a good template for what happens when someone tells you to ask for things but also I’ve told myself to ask things a lot. I think I came with a type of bravado. I don’t know where it came from, probably the way I grew up. [laughs]
DN: What were the things that you asked for, that you had bravado versus the things that you asked for that maybe you wouldn’t have asked for?
TC: With the typesetting, I wouldn’t have asked to have had such hand-drawn typesetting that wouldn’t have occurred to me. Things that I was determined to push on was that the cover would be shot by @lostintottenham, Richard Dixon, I grew up with him. I always knew my book cover had to be from the community. I had to have a lostintottenham cover. That was a deal breaker for me. I would have left any publisher if they just said no to that. [laughter]
DN: I’m glad you got it.
TC: I’m really happy. I don’t think this book is just about me. I think this book is about all my people and what we can do together. You can’t get things off the ground. I’ve wondered about fate and my acknowledgements are people who like, of course, as acknowledgements are, you can’t do it without those people but I just had so many setbacks. I really did need a village to raise a child.
DN: I want to ask you more about the language indicators that you’ve put in a different type setting. When you’ve been interfacing with the public as the community manager of Tilted Axis, you’ve talked about how the press focuses on translations from Asia with a preference toward experimental writing and that the press aspires to be anti-colonial, and radical feminist in its practices. For instance, paying writers and translators the same regardless of what country they are from as one example. But what I found particularly interesting was that the press doesn’t preference English first language speakers to translate books into English. That in fact, it actually prefers translators who speak English as a second language as their translators. This is definitely a departure from historical convention in a really interesting way, I think. One benefit of this I could imagine would be it would open translation opportunities to many more non-white translators, but on the level of language, it also seems like it could suggest the possibility that there’s something gained having a translator whose relationship to English isn’t necessarily seamless and entirely unconscious; that maybe having that more conscious and less seamless connection with English might have some advantages. But somehow, I connect this, though I’m not exactly sure I can articulate it, I connect this choice of Tilted Axis, not in any causative way but as a resonance with how you’re using not only Turkish words, Kurdish words, and Arabic words in the book but indicating them as such in English. Did you feel the connection between these two, this sense of maybe back to the cabbage, the layering of language and relation to language in this way?
TC: I really love translating from the second layer, like you’re saying. I think it’s really fun. With Mainland Turkish, I’m less familiar with it. When I try to translate Mainland Turkish back into English, it feels really fun because I think that moment of suspense where you’re trying to cross between two languages is an area of rich creativity. Something that I love about Tilted Axis books is that, and often, you can see this frisson with Mui Poopoksakul who translates the Thai literature that we work on. I think that’s something that she does really well where she just shows a moment of deep contemplation between English and Thai. I think I really like to just make it clear to people that just because English is your first language doesn’t mean you’re an expert in English. Why does English need to be in your first language? English may have been my first language but then I forgot English and I had to relearn it. It’s like that question of what came first, the chicken or the egg, is something that we can make good art from to challenge ourselves and to stay in the murky waters.
DN: I love that you could have chosen to have these various languages but then not indicate them as such in English, just had the language there, but the fact that you keep putting these indicators we’ve switched, it’s a strange effect. In a weird way, it feels like we’re both in both languages and outside of both languages at the same time.
TC: Thank you. Creatively, I’m very inspired by this separation, then bringing you in someone that whispers to you but also is a side eye on you while they’re doing it.
DN: That’s a good way to put it. [laughter]
TC: Thank you.
DN: There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the ways you go out of your way to orient us, because you do in certain respects go out of your way to orient us beyond the typical book, letting us know what the names for food are or what something means in another language. But this happens alongside ways in which the book defamiliarizes narrative at the same time and also in unusual ways. Beyond the fact that it’s polyvocal and that when someone takes over the story, we don’t know whether we will see them again or how long they’re going to be in charge of the story. The book is fragmentary and doesn’t just leap across language and from one character to the next but it also suddenly shifts time, and slips unexpectedly without warning from prose to poetry, then back again. There are a lot of these gaps and leaps or interruptions on top of the visual ways the type setting alters the flow of the reading experience. All of this you call glitching. Rather than you experimenting for experimentation’s sake, you said that many of these choices are a way for you to capture what life and language is like for a person whose brain glitches. I know you’ve alluded to complex PTSD a couple times already but I was hoping you could talk to us about glitching and how glitching has become another way the book is shaped.
TC: I love glitches. [laughs] With my collective Design Yourself, like a lot of us, are currently very preoccupied by glitch art as well.
DN: There’s something called glitch art?
TC: Yes, where we render videos with certain software and it will ripple something, so you’ll see a duck and it will start to expand, and turn into yellow paint, just shooting at you or something like this. That’s something I really enjoy about looking at the technological disruptions that can be made with certain types of AI. I use music software and I’m producing, if I put a sample and transpose it, sometimes, there will be a half second where I’ve slowed down the sample but the take has decayed slightly in that process. I love that. I love these absences and intrusions when you’re trying to remold something. I’d never known how to write a novel. It’s my first book, so I didn’t know how to construct a plot. I’d heard about the plot but I didn’t know how to make the plot myself. [laughs] I found that as I was writing this book, I was writing it in very difficult situations. I wasn’t in a cushy-like house. I was moving about a fair bit. The book shows this title where life glitches you and life comes in, and forces you to put down the pen and pick it back up, and it changes the shape of the book but also I think sometimes in intuitive form, it may be positive or negative might come into my mind, then I’m interested in how that can immediately change the flow of a mood within a paragraph for example. If there’s a fault that comes in while I’m writing, I love seeing them, then boom, it’s going to become a different type of scene. I’ve often found that when writing romance in particular, I like to really look at that because it’s something people get uncomfortable thinking about. There’s a lot of love scenes that we see that are a bit thwarted by people’s mental health that gives those things poignancy. I just hope that we can get used to seeing it in a way that it doesn’t feel like something that a director’s put in to be edgy. This is no one. I’m not trying to emulate people, like stories like Black Swan where there seems more of an artistic intention there, in my opinion, than a place of realness. I’m feeling those glitches, they’re not being planted for experiment’s sake as you’re saying, which I appreciate.
DN: You wrote a piece where you recommend books for people who feel glitched and you quote from each one. The quote you chose from a book called This Tilting World jumped out to me. The quote was, “How to work so that everything both connects and comes apart and we see it all anew. How to dig beneath first impressions, to discover a second language, to create hidden connections, associations, reminders, echoes, harmonies.” Something about everything connecting and coming apart at the same time definitely feels like the experience of reading Keeping the House, which it’s not entirely, when you talk about plot, I don’t know that plot is what’s holding the book together. It’s mysterious, the connecting and the coming apart, because it does feel like it’s in a fragile place. The book could come apart, yet is coming together, if that makes any sense.
TC: I almost imagined this type of shimmering line from beginning to end when I saw the project in my head before I finished it. A very thin shimmering then. I knew I had to put it there and I had to reach towards it. There’s a feeling that I’m trying to capture in Keeping the House, a feeling that I got when I was watching moonlight as well. This feeling seen in soft sands, feeling that whatever happens, there’s something that’s preserved. We make bread under the sand and come back to it, and it’s there. I feel grateful the book is there. I feel grateful that exciting people are reading it and feel that I’ve tried my best to plan things that we can go back to. It’s also what I hope for with my day job and I think with all my work, is just trying to create an archive for as many different people as possible, for as many different things as possible.
DN: Could we hear another section from the book? I picked out a little section if you don’t mind.
TC: That’s great. I like that.
DN: I don’t know if I have the same page numbers because I have the advanced copy.
TC: I’ve got the advanced copy as well. [laughter] I have the other one but I think there’s something to me that feels sentimental. This is the first ever copy I received, so I often viewed from it. This is from the section Ayla Looking After Makbule 2001.
[Tice Cin reads from Keeping the House]
DN: We’ve been listening to Tice Cin read from Keeping the House. I like that you changed the name to Keeping the House because Keeping the House feels more uncertain, and it has questions that are contained in it somehow. What does it take to be able to keep the house or keep the house together? What do we mean by a house? At what cost, and to whom does keeping it together entail? Because it doesn’t feel like this book is simply a love letter to a place that is home in a simple way, a place of wholeness, belonging and coherence. Many of the characters are alienated from their own culture, or struggle with not belonging even with their own people, or maybe especially with their own people. While part of this book could be about Keeping the House, how one gets food on the table, pays the bills, or survives week to week, that also, at least for me, felt like it was about a different sort of house, one that is more about chosen family or are family defined otherwise than by blood. I was wondering if that rings true, if you could talk about that aspect of the book if it does; where the alienation is coming from in this sense and whether you see this book as a different iteration of a house or a family structure.
TC: I think each character in the book, be it the ones that we only see once and the ones that we stay longer with, all seem to have a reason for why they don’t feel part of their community. The alienation that I’m most drawn to is one where it’s not yet been diagnosed. It’s not yet been found. What is it that is making this thing so difficult to put a finger upon? I often found with my poetry that there would be a narrator floating over the top that always sabotaged the romance or had some type of ploy to make this scene of a village dinner suddenly feel as if it was about to break into a debauchery or something like this. With Keeping the House, I wanted to be conscious of that narrator this time, this linguistic tendency that I have towards messing around with them because I often wonder why we’ve all been put here. Why do we all feel lonely? So many people from so many different fortunes, blessings and hardships in their life, it was a very relatable type of loneliness. This feeling of being lonely in a crowded room. I’m grateful that I’m a writer because I can, in my loneliness or isolation, draw in towards myself with words. I hope that readers can feel the same sense of solace in that.
DN: When we’re thinking about the scene you just read, I’m wondering, thinking about intergenerational trauma and PTSD, if it would be safe to say that the source of the PTSD is different for each of the generations. For one, it’s the ‘74 war in Cyprus and its aftermath. I guess for all of them, you could say they’re living in the afterlifes of this war, but also direct experiences in England whether it be the riots in the 80’s or sexual violence in someone’s life, all potentially leading to this glitching that you describe. Is that a fair characterization, that perhaps even if there’s a lineage to their trauma, there’s a way in which there’s something discrete and separate about it at the same time?
TC: Thank you so much for seeing that. I’m grateful. I definitely feel so. When I’m looking at a character like William—he’s one of my favorite characters in the entire book—we see his C-PTSD come in when he’s on a bus one day and he just skips all of his stops. We only know parts of his backstory and I was intrigued by this. I want to also show people characters where we don’t have a way into their trauma. We know parts of it, we know that certain tragedies have taken place but we don’t really know the full story. That’s often the case between lovers or friends or just anybody that’s outside of your body. They can’t really know what’s going on, what’s been before, and what’s to come so I like to pay love to people in that way as well. Those characters that maybe, with William, he’s not part of the same lineage of C-PTSD. He’s tied in some way to the Turkish heroin trades through his knowledge of the other characters but he’s not. I am very interested in those different measures of closeness we have to various bubblings. These pots that are going to spill over, I think for me that’s how Tottenham felt.
DN: I wanted to stay a bit longer with the house’s form. You were taking a class called Modernism and the City, where you were reading books by J.G. Ballard like High-Rise and Crash, and thinking about buildings, structures, and cities. You’ve said that you wanted to write about a city and its glitches and you wanted the text that you were studying in this class in some way to be spoken to or to speak to the book that you were writing. I just wondered if you could talk to us a little bit about some of that. If this book is talking to other books or talking to notions of city, architecture, or space in some way from what you learn there.
TC: I love Brutalist Architecture. Something that I particularly love about it is the intention behind it. He wanted us to be face to face with nature and to reach each other in the quickest most mathematically precise way possible by having walkways in the sky, and these other concrete machinated solutions to intimacy and closeness. I wanted to add my hat to the ring. The way that Ballard writes about these “high-rises” is essential. Even in the catastrophe, he’s so in love with the concrete. For me, I’m in love with the concrete in another way. I’m aware of the failings. I like to try and signpost governmental failings with these architectural designs. Even though these things are mapped out and plotted for us, we are the societies, the communities that I write about. People have to live in these second-hand designs. In designs that were modeled after an artistic build but without any of the actual safety measures put in place like with recent tragedies in England like Grenfell Tower. I’m living in a place at the moment where leaks are just taking place and my landlord will not fix it. I’m sure that we can all agree, I think there’s something about the way that people without a higher level of income were just forced, they’re rooted and they’re predestined by the way that the buildings are imprinted upon them, but at the same time, there isn’t that sense of artistic dwelling that you might get with a Ballard book. It’s not all luxurian. Someone else who I think does this in a really wonderful way is Caleb Femi. He wrote a poetry collection called Poor. I think it really looks like there’s a poem in it called Concrete1, I believe, where it’s like an architect expresses his intentions for a site then the resident actually talks about their relationship with the place. I really like this conversation taking place.
DN: I also wanted to ask you—I’ll probably get this wrong—but you were describing, because around the same time that you were taking this class, I think you were also diagnosed with Complex PTSD and you were describing your experience with your therapist. You described how they would have you first imagine a room, at the same time, you’re taking this class on cities and architecture. Your therapist is having you imagine a room, and from the room to reconfigure your own memories, deconstruct them, and reimagine them. You pictured the book as being made up of rooms like this. I don’t know if I’m saying it right but I would love to hear more about this as an approach, as a writer because it sounds like it is a therapy for sure, but it also sounds like it’s a therapy that you’ve used as a framing in a way to approach what you’ve lived, and then how you can reimagine it as fiction.
TC: I feel so happy you brought that up because this is such a defragmented time in my memory. It’s nice to think back to the way that it was also a rich area for creativity. Building those rooms with my therapist felt interesting because things that I lingered on were never really happenings, they were more the shimmer in the kettle or the way that if you stood at a 70 degree angle in the room, you would feel a breeze from the top left. It became vital to my writing to write in that manner, to build rooms at a distance, and also not try to skip past the boring bits of the room. I, for various reasons, couldn’t be in Tottenham for some of the times when I was writing the book because it was a bit fraught. Trying to construct a room and then collapse it felt very freeing because I got to talk about the kettle that was shining. I also got to fashion the countertop below it. I often talk about the objective truth and the way that we can, as long as we’re heartening towards what we seek, it’s okay if you’ve made certain things, taken certain artistic liberties. I think when I compare those therapy sessions with some of what I learned during my degree, a big thing that came out was hauntology. I really love Mark Fisher and the way that streets are embedded with memories. You step foot on a certain crack, an asphalt, and it will set something off. This gives people a real sense of understanding themselves, to see the importance in a road, to see the importance in a small item because you can use that to route yourself back towards the happening, and also to ground yourself within that happening. If I was constructing that room and a memory came back, because you fill your body in the room with you when you’re building those rooms so you can put your hand on the countertop, place yourself there and then slightly bring yourself back in, so they all came in tandem.
DN: I wanted to ask you about research speaking of “objective truth” in creating this book because I know you interviewed people, and you went and stayed in Northern Cyprus for a while. I was wondering if you could talk about both of these; the process of interviewing people, if and how you disguised identities, particularly if someone’s talking about something that’s criminal. Then what you experience being in Northern Cyprus itself did or didn’t do for writing Keeping the House.
TC: I’m a research-led artist. I find it so fun to watch as all of these stories start to lay themselves out. With those that informed Keeping the House, I had a lot of consent. People came to me. They heard that I was writing the book. “Oh, I know Tice is writing a book. Well, she’s writing about this topic, that’s so funny,” my uncle said, “I loved this.” As if you’d be sitting down for a beer with somebody and they wanted to tell me stories. Often, with the interviews I would go into some of the calf stars similar to those in the novel. I’d sit with the geezers. I’d tell them what the book was about and I’d explain to them the scene that I wanted to write. With that scene, they’d say, “All right. Well, this reminds me of when I did this and so you should get him to do this.” So they were writing the book with me.
DN: That’s amazing.
TC: Thank you. It was really fun. It was really like, I would ring them up afterwards and say, “You said, 40. Did you mean 40 or 41? Because I just Googled it and it said 43.” [laughter] We would come back and we’d find the number together. With couples going to my village and going around, that felt a bit more painful because I don’t feel there’s much healing on that part of the islands yet because it’s still in us, in a period of uncertainty. The last time I was in the village, the boys were beaten up by police on the other side of the islands. I’m sure, the Greek Cypriot people have learned their own stories as well. It’s a painful spot to be in but Turkish Cypriot humor is very funny. So often, when people would give me anecdotes that they wanted to put in the book, they would tell it in a riddle. It would be really funny. One that I almost took verbatim was the idea of hiding under the cupboard from your husband’s because so many women told me that they had to do that to avoid their arranged marriages. They would duck and dive away from them. They would be telling me that while they were sitting on their husband’s laps. There’s a lot of various different realities taking place at once there because we all know that it’s dodgy but also they’re very much in love now. I often say I like to rest in those truths, the ones that are contradictory. The research that I found the hardest was writing about Jersey because I’ve never lived in Jersey. Even though it’s like a drug haven, I had to put it in the book because there’s no tax. You could just chuck your money there and it’s fine. That had to go through the archives of The British Library quite a bit. That took quite a lot of time but then I had to think about how can I do this in a way that engenders consent? How can I draw from that material that can’t speak back to me the way that people who are on the phone can. With that I took much more care with really just using certain words, scientific terms, legal terms, things like this.
DN: I want to spend a little bit of time with these questions of concern of representation because, for one, I wanted to start with, that you’ve said before that you had particular concerns about representing Northern Cyprus and the conflict that resulted in the partition of the island, that you wanted to be even-handed and not let your personal feelings and passions to influence you too much. But I wondered why not let your personal feelings and passions influence you too much given that your characters are mainly Turkish Cypriots? What about representing your characters based on how you feel and how you feel passionately, what about your ethics or your orientation to writing holds you back from writing that way?
TC: I think I’m a big believer in self-care. I love to make sure that I’m not giving my hand away when I write. Part of that is in protecting my personal opinions and giving those another place to live in a more transparent manner. While I am under no illusions that my feelings and passions are just bitten into every part of the book, I try to be as mindful about that as possible because it then allows for a book that feels more character-driven. I see it as separate from myself. I think it’s this sense of always trying to separate myself from the characters that brings out a third character. There’s me, there’s the character I intend to write, and then there’s the mutant baby that comes out from it. [laughter]
DN: This is super fascinating to me because normally in the most general and generic way, you hear about people wanting to merge with their character or to feel no distance from their character. They’re the political reasons to be even-handed when you’re portraying, say, the war in Cyprus, for instance. But you’ve made formal decisions also where it seems to me like you put forth a separateness of your character as a virtue or an attribute. I want to explore that a little bit with you. When you were talking with Max Porter, you said, for instance, that Damla’s character, even though she’s one of the most prominent characters, she’s almost a fly on the wall watching people outside of her field of reference describing them without herself having full access to their experiences. You said to Max that through portraying Damla this way, you came to feel that using this outsider perspective as a linguistic tool and vantage point rather than trying to inhabit the people you wrote about, that it worked well as a mood to write within which I love. I love this notion of it as a mood that you’re writing within. You’ve also said that you use filmic techniques in your writing to make it feel more like being a spectator. I love that this is so different from what I typically hear, particularly your choice not to try to inhabit the people you’re writing about. I wondered if this is connected in some way to not wanting to be passionately subjective about Northern Cyprus, for instance. I also wondered if not inhabiting others that are different than you may be connected to this hesitation you had around Jersey, for instance, if that choice is more than an aesthetic choice, if it’s more than just creating a spectator experience but also if it’s informed by political considerations, around the representation of others.
TC: I think a large part of it is political considerations, perhaps because of my academic background or maybe more so of growing up in quite a volatile environment. I’ve always had to be cautious of my words and I’ve always been aware of the power of words. Once you put things in print, they are there. We must know that you can hurt people with your words. If I’m going to say something quite powerfully against a culture or against the government, I need to make sure that I’m doing it, knowing that it’s coming from me. I think that there’s an illusion that writers of fiction have that if they put it in the book, it will go unnoticed. Through that, they can put all of their secret opinions in and they’ve said their point but they can go free with it. I work with an English PEN for a good time, out of time volunteering with them. I also work at Purge Translation Center and again with Tilted Axis, we represent a writer called Hamid Ismailov. He came to the UK, having been forced to leave Uzbekistan for his political writing within fiction. I think it’s important, I come from not just [1:27:50] but I also come from Turkey. There’s such severe censorship happening there with writers. I need to make sure that when I say things that I think for me, there are some things that I’m waiting for within essays, I can’t put into my fiction or I choose not to. That being said, I like seeing the geezers and the calf scenes having their debates because I like the way that they yo-yo between each other. When I do make a strong stance, I try to let the characters have it out between themselves while I watch them.
DN: I want to ask you about this in relationship to sensitivity readers because you have a sensitivity to points of view that are not your own. You’ve constructed a book that contains sensitivity. You’ve also said that you’re passionate about sensitivity readers and you had several for this book. I was hoping maybe you could speak to sensitivity reads and readers generally, but also who you reached out to or what sensitivity reads you wanted the book to have, and that process and anything you discovered in that process.
TC: When I first heard about sensitivity reads, I remember thinking how preposterous, just write the book. If you don’t know about it, don’t include it. Why do you need a sensitivity read? Then I realized even the things I thought I knew about, I don’t know about. I grew up in North London. It’s got one of the highest British Ghanaian Communities in the city. I think it has the highest but that doesn’t mean that I’m going in at all. I wanted to make sure that I sat down with people and that they looked in a very pointed manner at specific passages and then looked at them within the context of the book as well. That was paid work. I can’t just have friends do that. I needed it to be treated as work. I wanted them to be given their dues. To my sensitivity readers, I wanted them to be paid. I was really grateful that stories gave them a fair rate to sit down and really consider things. Sometimes when you show things to friends and you say, “Is this all right?” They may or may not say, “It’s all right.” They will often give you the right advice but I think sometimes paid consideration is different. I also think getting a sensitivity read from outside of your usual publishing crew is really important because I had sensitivity readers from people who were writers or poets but they weren’t, in any means, looking at things with a publishing eye. They were looking at things as, “I’m a creative person, I love reading and I identify with this particular culture that you’re writing about so let me just check it out.” I wanted to have that type of those differences in status within sensitivity reads. I think the people that are going to be wounded the most by something going wrong are usually not people within publishing. Sometimes people within publishing have become desensitized, I’m not saying this is always the case but it’s easy to become desensitized. I’ve been editing myself to what is and isn’t all right, and sometimes getting someone with a fresh perspective can be really helpful.
DN: Is it true that your own version of a sensitivity read or was the sensitivity cook, that you went to lots of your friend’s mom’s kitchens and cooked a lot of the foods that are in the book?
TC: I had to. [laughter] I have some aspirations of doing a little experimental cooking vlog, I think after Keeping the House, maybe I’ll [1:32:22] cooking in the house. You can’t put a recipe in a book and not eat it. I did it before and after. I wanted to make sure that peanut soup was going down, I was thinking of the textures of things and I was thinking of how it would stay in a pot. Some of these meals I’ve been eating since I was very, very small and more so than Turkish food as well, some of them. There’s that lived long-term memory of it, but there are some recipes that were very hard to get from certain people. They really didn’t want to give them away and that felt particularly victorious. I thought it was really nice just being allowed into certain kitchens.
DN: Nice. Anything new that’s now, from that process, part of your cooking on a day-to-day basis?
TC: I’ve recently said that there’s a poem’s recipe in the book that I was waiting quite a while to get, a particular season in packages and stuff. But also there’s a Turkish meal in the book called The Molehill, it’s a Turkish soup actually. It’s very difficult to cook and it smells weird. I always thought I could cook it. When I tried to cook it in advance of this book, I just got it really bad. But I was really grateful to get that one because it’s a meal that’s not necessarily a lasting meal. It’s just so rare. The Arab’s smaller Melia, it’s not a plant that’s easy to get. Thinking a lot about this one when writing the book, these rare foods, rare memories, and trying to hold them in a place.
DN: Listening, do you read the book as people now have also? Reading the book myself, it’s clear, the connection between your life as a poet and as a DJ and your life as a prose writer, you can definitely feel the attention to the music of the syntax to the rhythms, not just of life but of the sentences. There’s this whole other world of interest you’ve alluded to at the beginning with AI that doesn’t have an obvious connection to me to the book, but I’m hoping there might be some secret connection to the book, and that is your interest in the human in relationship to the technological, to Transhumanism and Posthumanism, where your master’s thesis looked at representations and simulations of the female body in Posthuman literature. You’ve also mentioned the Manifesto on Xenofeminism, how the ways, not only capitalism reshapes our bodies but how the ways we use technologies of sexuality to remodel ourselves, how this reframing and reshaping is usually happening through the perspective of the white-cis-man. I guess I was hoping you could talk about this ongoing interest of yours that ‘s been central to some of your artistic collaborations and with some of your video projects. Do any of the questions that animate those projects find their way in some quiet way into Keeping the House, which at least on the surface feels very far from this other aspect of you?
TC: I’d like to think so. Keeping the House exists within a certain period of internet history and radio history that is untouched in some ways from the way that Twitter and social media has glitched our minds. There’s an outsideness to Keeping the House that felt like a departure from where we are now in society. Writing Keeping the House while working on AI Tech projects felt very interesting because I was writing in the nostalgic manner about something that is gone and won’t return unless we have some type of digital apocalypse.
DN: We can hope. [laughter]
TC: Yeah. I mean, honestly. The singularity is not far now. When we write about women, the same way a robotics engineer will fashion a woman to be very particular to their needs, they’ll have a same sex insert, for example, within a femme butt that heats their private parts and allows their vocal register to shift and therefore cue different moods. I wanted to also push back against that “I” with Keeping the House. [1:38:03] is a character that I think does that a lot, pushing back against that eye. She takes people’s caps and wears them herself.
DN: I was reading that you hosted a workshop on poetry translation where the poetry was either translated by Artificial Intelligence or generated in the first place by Artificial Intelligence. Your group would then translate this AI translated or AI generated poetry into various languages represented in the poetry translation group. Talk to us a little bit about that.
TC: Machine-generated poetry is generated in English and the people that often design those AIs will come from North America rather than England. It’s a specific context of American English and I think that’s not always the case like with Microsoft’s Xiaoice. It was a spectral English, a different mashup for various Englishes. But I wanted to talk within those workshops about why we need to start creating AI in other languages where more people from different backgrounds, different class backgrounds as well, needed to engage with that and look at the way that creativity intersects with technology. I do think that something that people often comfort themselves with, even if we reach singularity, which I think we have already, but even if we do, that’s okay because they’re never going to be able to write as well as us. They’re never going to be able to make music as well as us. There’s this false sense of security where the machine is seen as so totally uncreative but it’s very creative, and it will become more creative with the more people that add their words and their fault patterns to it. The more databases that are uploaded, the richer that source content will become. Then, of course it can match up or compete. Isn’t that all creative collaboration? Some sense of matching, competing interpretation. I know that there are poems of mine that are not as high as standard as Xiaoice. I, without signing to kooky, have a lot of respect for machine generated creativity. Those bots and those opportunities for surprise that you might find that are not human even if it was a human database.
DN: I wonder if your impulse to look at the translation that AI does as not neutral, that it’s coming from both in the hegemony of an Anglophone world and often from white male coders, examining that invisible structure, if that impulse is connected. If we go back to the very beginning of our conversation, the impulse is to look at something like crime fiction or crime narratives and looking at the story of the heroin trade and Tottenham, but then finding the voices that are very much part of that story but are never spoken in that story.
TC: I think perhaps I’m inherently suspicious because I’m a curious person. I always like to think twice about things. I grew up in a place where you don’t cross the road without checking who’s on the other side of the road and a lot of us have grown up in that way. It’s a very modern condition as well. I think the bigger a place grows, the more outside factors start to determine your day-to-day occurrences. This suspicion, this cautiousness, this mindfulness is a millennial type of survival, not a millennial person but like a millennial thinking that we all have now, whether, are we the Gen Z? But this very current grasp on the way that everything is illusory, when I’m talking to you I’m looking out from my flat, and there’s a place opposite where I often see a couple arguing. Tonight, they are but they’re literally just like moving around with their kids in the same room. I think it’s all these things that are happening around us and it’s really nice, very contradictory. I just want to pay attention to those things because often, the break caused between them by the thing that lets people free from those situations, that very catalyst, it will be where the story happens.
DN: Can you talk a little bit about the EP that’s going to come out accompanying the book? Another way you’ve crossed genres but also invited others to participate in the creation of Keeping the House as this musical endeavor.
TC: I love the EP. I feel so happy when I think about it. It’s built on the refrain in the book, retell it so it’s yours and it’s yours now. As a producer, I know how much production is creative and fun, and tells a story. I wanted the producers, the sound engineers, the rappers, the singers on the EP to all pick any bit of the book that they were drawn to and write towards it. Then I would write around them and collaborate with them, come into the room, suggest ideas and those studio spaces, those phone calls have been very bountiful with creative excitement, frivolity, and cheekiness. There’s a song on the EP that I think is about eight minutes long. Some of it was me, going to the McDonald’s that we see in the book and ordering the meals that the characters would have been ordering with the same amount of people. Then the sounds that we hear are the McDonald’s paper bag getting squashed and the chips being crunched. I think it allows the book to live in another way but it also comes back to, for me, the heart of my creative practice, which I’m not doing for me, I’m not doing it for this book. I’m just trying to tell as many stories as possible to help as many people as possible. I want to bring as many people in as I can.
DN: When is it coming out?
TC: I think it’s February.
DN: February? Okay.
TC: We’re trying to source funding for a short film to come that will be attached to it. I may or may not wait for the short film. The album’s there, the EP’s done, we’re just waiting on the visuals.
DN: Tell us, before we end, what you’re working on now. I know that at least one of your projects is a graphic novel, perhaps you’re working on, a TV pilot, also?
TC: I am. I’ve had a few different production companies approach me which has been really lovely. It’s been exciting but my natural suspicions I’ve been waiting and holding out, I want to write a pilot and have complete ownership over it. I want to be an executive producer on the project, I want to do the casting and I want to be there during the conversations about translation. I’m trying to create this template by writing. I’ve written the pilot now and having these meetings, there’s the infrastructure of film and TV is very interesting. I think when people see that I’m 26, they immediately are cautious about giving me much agency when it comes to the work that I create. But I’ve seen people like Michaela Coel and Issa Rae, they’ve done it. I’m so massively inspired by other women who have been really just pushed against those, would you say like it’s a clerical thing often where they’re just like, “Yeah but we’ve got this person who knows the system, so it’d be easier to get them in”? I’m very much wanting to just push against that, be in the picture, and then by being in the picture I can bring the right people into the picture. I’m also writing two short films, the graphic novel and novel too.
DN: Oh my gosh. We’re right before a big wave of Tice Cin art.
TC: We’re in. Thank you. I feel very inspired since the book came out. It’s been conversations like these, I go away and I write after them. It feels really just fascinating, it brings you I think conversations or a good meal, it does that, doesn’t it? Where you suddenly can access a bit of your mind that maybe was sleeping before.
DN: Thank you for spending the time with me today.
TC: Thank you so much. Thank you.
DN: We are talking today to Tice Cin, the author of Keeping the House from And Other Stories. You’ve been listening to Between the Covers, I’m David Naimon, your host.
Today’s program was recorded at the volunteer-powered, non-commercial, listener-sponsored, full-strength, makeshift home office of me, David Naimon. For the bonus audio, Tice Cin reads what can best be described as a poem that is almost a song. A heart-stoppingly beautiful poem created especially for us. This joins bonus audio from Jorie Graham, Alice Oswald, Pádraig Ó Tuama, Forrest Gander, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Teju Cole, Ted Chiang, Layli Long Soldier, Richard Powers and many others. You can find out more about subscribing to the bonus audio and the other potential benefits of becoming a listener supporter at patreon.com/betweenthecovers. Or if you prefer a one-time donation, you can do so via PayPal at tinhouse.com/support. I’d like to thank the Tin House team who helped make the show run, Elizabeth Demeo and Alyssa Ogie in the Book Division, Jacob Vala in the Art Department, Becky Kraemer in Publicity and Lance Cleland the Director of the summer and winter Tin House Writers Workshops. Finally I’d like to thank Imre Lodbrog and Barbara Browning for creating the outro. Their album Imre Lodbrog et sa Petite Amie can be found on itunes and Barbara Browning’s trove of ukulele covers can be found at soundcloud.com/barbarabrowning.