Monday, April 5, 2021

TBR: Worn by Adrienne Christian

TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe!

We don’t expect an elevator pitch from a poet, but can you tell us about your work in 2-3 sentences?

Worn is a collection of Black love stories that all feature clothing in some way. “Love” here encompasses all kinds of love – agape, filial, and eros.


What boundaries did you break in the writing of this book? Where does that sort of courage come from?

The boundary I broke in writing this book is getting away from Black literature being largely rooted in trauma. For example, if you look on any bestseller list right now, you will see that every book written by a Black person is about the traumas of race. Even if you look, too, at Black authors who have won the major writing awards, the books they’ve won for are almost always about race. Worn explores the other side of the coin of the Black experience – the side that is not rooted in trauma. I found courage in Toni Morrison’s advice, “Write the book you want to read.” I wanted (actually, needed!) to read something about Black people that didn’t enrage me, or send me to my knees in tears.


Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.

There hasn’t been a single low on my book’s road to publication. In fact, I’m in awe in how professional, skillful, and supportive Santa Fe Writers Project is. Working with Monica Prince and Andrew Gifford has been great.


What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?

 Am I allowed to give more than one? ;) Toni Morrison said, “Write the book you want to read.” Carolyn Beard Whitlow said, “When people are clapping, stop.” In other words, don’t write the sequel if the original was a major success. Major Jackson said, “Ass in chair.” In other words, sit your ass in that chair and write. Steven Pressfield said, “A professional stays on the job all day.” Chigozie Obioma said, “Read.” A writer should never write more than she reads.


My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?

 I had no idea that what we wear (and don’t wear) is so political. The why of what we’re wearing runs way deeper than the what.


How did you find the title of your book?

Titles to me are important, just as names are important. I knew I wanted something that told the reader that the collection was about clothes. I was thinking I could call it either Worn or Woven, and two of my mentors – Kwame Dawes and Joy Castro – said emphatically “Worn!”


Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)

Hahaha. That’s a very good question. I drank a lot of tea while writing this book. Decaf tea is a great substitute for wine if you want something with ceremony, but don’t want your sleep affected. Also, I’m absolutely in love with High Tea. It’s a great way to have a high-end experience for not high-end money.

Homemade chai:







DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.