Author: Bonnie Pipkin
"Bonnie Pipkin believes in prose, performances, puppet shows, and public displays of affection. Originally from California, Bonnie now lives in Brooklyn. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, teaches literature courses at Kean University, officiates weddings, and looks after a very cute cat. Aftercare Instructions is Bonnie’s first novel."
- Get vaccinated if you can.
- Be kind.
2. How much of yourself did you write into the main character, Genesis?
I wrote a great deal of myself into Genesis. There’s a symbiotic relationship in her existence with mine. It’s not an outright autobiographical character, but she doesn’t exist without my experience. I fully went into her when I wrote her and so parts of myself inevitably came through.
3. What inspired you to become an author?
I’m a reader first! So, it has to be that all the books that I’ve fallen in love with are what inspired me to try it myself. I’ve always written stories and letters and poetry and everything, and then somehow, I found the discipline to try the novel.
4. What do you feel is the most under appreciated thing about your writing style?
I don’t think I focus on what’s under appreciated about my writing style. I feel pretty appreciated :) Thank you, Readers.
5. How long was the story for Aftercare Instructions within you and when was it that you realized the world needed to hear this story?
I started writing this novel while in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. It went through many iterations through those two years. I signed with my agent right after graduating and then worked for two years with her on the novel as well. At that point the work was with the intention of putting it out into the world.
It takes a long time for a novel to see the light of day, so I kept wondering how much relevance it would have. Though throughout all those years, reproductive health remained under attack in this country, so it never lost its urgency to destigmatize the experience of having an abortion. Then of course a new president was sworn in the year the book came out, and our reproductive rights were (and are) still in jeopardy. I think it’s important to normalize the experience. Art is a great way to do that.
6. Have you ever experienced an event that made you begin to question everything?
I’m the type of person who always looks for the meaning in every event, and I spend quite a bit of time self-reflecting, so yes. From the big to the small. I think it’s important to question everything, reevaluate, and be mindful moving forward.
7. How has your world changed since first writing Aftercare Instructions?
Since I wrote Aftercare Instructions, I’ve birthed two children and moved from New York City (after 17 years) back to my hometown in Northern California. So, my world has completely changed. Though probably not in the way this question intended :) I put a lot of energy into making a family after the book came out. My life was far more glamorous before, haha.
8. What is something you do every day that sustains your mental health?
Take a shower. I know it’s simple. But I take a long and hot shower (apologies to the water sources in California). I get a lot of my best ideas in there. Even after making babies, I make sure I take a shower every day. I know a lot of mothers forsake the shower, but I never have. Lots of plot problems have been solved in the shower. As well as great big creative ideas. Or a quiet meditation. The shower is where it’s at for my mental health.
9. What do you hope readers take away from Aftercare Instructions?
The book is not meant to be “the abortion book” or an after school special in any way. I hope my readers can just sink into a story and feel something along the way.
10. If you weren’t an author, you’d be a….?
Movie star! (Is this a fantasy question… author is actually the dreamiest job).
11. What is your favorite aspect of writing Young Adult stories?
First love. First taste of freedom. First responsibility. First heartbreak. It’s all so extreme the first time through. We protect ourselves more as time goes on because we just wouldn’t survive if we felt and experienced life the way teenagers do. But I just love tapping into the rawness of first experiences.
12. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Take a shower? :) No, I don’t know. I have more of a perspective than advice: If you’re not downloading then you are uploading. Live your life and that will eventually download into your writing. I hope anyway. I’ve been doing a lot more living than writing these days.
13. What’s the best book you have read this year so far?
14. What’s the best advice you have ever received on happiness?
It’s okay to say no sometimes.
15. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
Definitely! There is one in the works. Though everything is slow going with an 8-week-old baby and a very energetic toddler. I have to sneak in any writing time. But it’ll slowly work its way back into my routine. I can’t not. It may just be a pile of smoking ash at the moment, but the fire will catch again.
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