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Writers on Writers: Michelle Tea Follows Lucy Corin To The End of Days

Pondering personal apocalypses with Lucy Corin and Michelle Tea. 

“Corin has a sweet face and an easy smile for a writer so acquainted with all the traumas this world can dish out.”

 Michelle Tea

Female friends of mine passed around Lucy Corin’s first novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls, like a classroom full of eighth graders, their hot little hands gripping a copy of Judy Blume’s Forever... Rather than wait patiently for my turn with the creepy book with the even creepier cover, I bought it, devouring it in days, drawn to Corin’s images of cruelty and innocence—baby alligators, cantering horses, young girls suffocating of boredom in humid, swampy Florida.

I first met Corin in 2007, at a party at a friend’s house. I was half-expecting a teenaged girl with cut marks on her arms, or someone dressed in a mindlessly provocative pair of Daisy Dukes, face flushed with a Sunshine State tan. But Corin appeared before me as a shockingly normal adult woman, if perhaps a bit shorter and more adorable than the average. “I thought you’d be taller,” she said upon meeting me, stealing the words from my mouth. Sweet-faced, with shiny brown hair that swings around her cheeks, she has an easy smile for a writer so acquainted with all the traumas this world can dish out.

Corin is interested in (let’s just say obsessed with) apocalypse. In 2008, I got to work alongside Corin at the monthlong writers’ retreat that my nonprofit, Radar Productions, hosts in Mexico each year. I watched as she stood before a blank wall in our shared condo, her hands filled with Post-its and shreds of paper, slowly mapping out the book that would become One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses, to be published by Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s imprint this August. Taking breaks from my own writing, I would stand before the wall, enchanted, thinking that it was like a map of Corin’s mind.

At the retreat, she interviewed the other writers about their own apocalypses, stealing the word back from the realm of Hollywood action movies and giving it a place in our everyday dramas. I watched as she became transfixed and inspired by a violent-looking cloud moving over the ocean, dark with rain and lit up by lightning. It all went into her book.

Michelle Tea is the author of many books, most recently the young adult fantasy Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, the first in a trilogy to be published by McSweeney’s. She lives in the Lower Haight—or, if she’s putting on airs, Hayes Valley.

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Originally published in the June 2013 issue of San Francisco. 

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