Interview with Lauren De Sa Naylor

“A cluster of track marks where the scar marks the skin between left thumb and forefinger.

He says: don’t remind me how marked you are when I try to explain. I love them there, hidden. I fool myself that nobody sees them and that they are entirely mine.

At least she’s not smoking heroin, she says of my sister. I remember the pine bedside table of my childhood bedroom and the drawer within it where I have discarded my needles. I explain to her the sensation – absolute numbness.

Earlier,

the actor awaits my return in the dining room of my childhood home. On the ground floor, at the back. We have prepared a lavish meal and after many beers B suggests that I drink some red wine. I inject my hand. I pour wine into my Victorian glass and enter the dining room, floating. At the doorway I take a sip of wine, feel his eyes on me, become filled with sudden shyness and leave the room, absurdly, I am afraid of tension turning to sex.

Later,

suppurating, I return after unsuccessfully emptying my bowels. I seem to have been there for hours – clenching, pushing and disentangling my stuttering intestines. My relationship with myself is seriously compromised by my relationship with that scarred place on my hand, so that I am convinced that, being unable to control my bodily functions apart from applying restraints I am convinced that I am seeping shit and smell foul.

Earlier,

she was in there with him, next to him on the wicker chairs, leaning as he spoke. Perhaps she allowed herself to become struck by his stardom while I remained unmoved, apparently unmoved, while veiling fascination. I watch them through the crack in the doorway. My feet flat on the kitchen linoleum and my eyes boring into them mainly their light and easy form of communication. ‘At least she is not smoking heroin’. . .”

– Extract from ‘Dreams’, the next publication in the Zimbabwe Blues series. Below the author shares insights into her writing life and how the texts from her forthcoming book came about.

MDTS – What is your background like?

LDSN – I am the daughter of a Northern-Brazilian and Yorkshireman hailing from Hull. My parents met in Warrington. I endured an unstimulating suburban existence in Preston, Lancashire; attending an all-girls secondary school and Catholic college. It was presumed that I would be the first Naylor to go to University but I decided to work as a bookseller and remained in that trade for 10 years. I did complete an art degree eventually, in 2009, prior to having my daughter, Dolores. My formal education has thus far had no impact nor influence upon the writing aspect of my wider artistic pursuits. The single most essential factor for the production of this aspect is other people and the dynamic between us, and sleep.

 MDTS – How did you get into writing – when and why?

 LDSN – Writing started as a bodily function and has continued as a functional necessity of my day-to-day life. Initially, in my late teens/early twenties, I sought to ‘capture the moment’, in much the same way as photographers do, but using text. This is obviously an impossible project, but so it goes on. I want to reproduce heightened emotional states. My subject was solely sex to begin with, doing and then documenting, and I would also use text as flirtation or text as seduction. Sex/Text. Often I would utilise cut-up techniques to try and obfuscate, to hide myself, since linear-narrative seemed too exposing. I realised at college that I dreamed very vividly, and began to keep dream diaries. Since moving to Leeds in 2001 I have regularly recorded my dreams and keep an archive of typed transcripts in box files. These texts are not necessarily straightforward duplicates of whatever my subconscious has thrown up during R.E.M. sleep; quite often the process of re-writing the dreams gives rise to a whole new series of memories, images, associations that become integrated into the final draft.

 MDTS – What other authors do you read? Which ones do you feel have had an influence on your work and why?

 LDSN – I started reading for pleasure at about 15 after binning off drinking-on-the-street-corner-teenage culture. I had a friend who was a student at Glasgow University (whom I met via the personal ad section of Select magazine) and introduced me to Henry Miller, Anais Nin, William Burroughs, Beat poets. Romanticism and experimentation – a heady mix that continues to seduce. I remember wanting to write as a direct result of these, and other authors, such as Virginia Woolf (The Waves’ stream-of-consciousness). Another book from this time that dragged me out of my teenaged-torpor was ‘Random Acts of Senseless Violence’ by Jack Womack (the dystopian coming-of-age story of a nice rich girl gone bad in a milieu of urban decay and economical depression). These days I read widely and everything has an influence on my work, either consciously or subconsciously. I see the process of reading /note-taking as feeding something very hungry within me that will then regurgitate in some other form. Some longstanding favourites are Kathy Acker, D.H. Lawrence, William T. Vollmann, Harry Crews, Anne Sexton, Clarice Lispector. I enjoy cultural theory and sociological/psycotherapeutic texts, particularly old Pelican editions, which I collect. Wilhelm Reich, the Austrial psychotherapist who created the ‘orgone accumulator’ and so-called ‘cloudbuster’ is currently floating my boat; as, indeed is Kate Bush whose ‘Cloudbusting’ is based on his life.

Photo by Anna Yausheva