An Interview with Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo spent a decade moving her family around the USA to be in the vicinity of the mistreatd women she’s immortalised in Three Women. She moved into their towns, met their friends, heard the whispers and rumors about them in the supermarket aisles. She spent time with them in the places their sexual desire was manipulated and mistreated.

This is a genre bending piece of writing that slips into the mould of long form journalism. It will undoubtedly reshape future narratives on female desire both on the page and in conversation. It’s also my favourite book for 2019 and it’s unsurprising it won Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year. She’s a phenomenal writer and I urge you all to read it.

What does a day in the life of Lisa Taddeo look like?

Get up at 6:00 Answer emails and write

08:00:  Get my very terrible daughter ready for school.

09:00: Write

12:00: Interviews or emails

13:00: Prepare dinner for the evening.

14:00-16:00: Write more.

16:00-20:00: Family, dinner, bath and bedtime

20:00-23:00: Write, compose to-do’s for the next day

What did you do (or are going to do) to celebrate the publication of Three Women?

Nothing, really! Might do something next week in LA.

You took a substantial amount of time to research Three Women and it’s obviously a monumental part of your life. How does it feel to have it out there being read around the world?

Terrifying but mostly uncomfortable, like I’ve been sitting with this thing for so long and now it’s no longer mine.

What’s been the greatest thing about writing Three Women and the worst?

Best: Hearing the wildest, most intense stories, and hearing from one of the women that the book gave her closure.

Worst: Feeling guilty about what the subjects might feel post-publication.

Have you been surprised by any of the reviews and has anybody spectacularly missed the point of your work? 

Great question. Yes, a number of them.

The idea for Three Women came about almost a decade ago. Why was it an important book to write then and why is it important now?

The subject of female desire is largely untouched. Post #MeToo, we talk about what we don’t want, but not so much about what we do want.

What processes did you have in place while writing Three Women?

I would make lists of tenuous things to do:

In the morning, post signs on coffee shop and supermarket bulletin boards. On the windows of cars2go. On slot machines in casinos. On the fence outside the Prada Marfa art installation.

In the afternoon, write whatever I’d observed the day before, or transcribe tape, or write pages out of notes.

In the early evening, either go to dive bars and nice restaurants and libraries and mechanics and talk to people and ask around, trying to isolate a town or a human being that would make me feel like I’d found it.  Or hang out with whichever person or group of people I’d found the day or week before.

In the late evening, eat dinner while posting things on the internet. Read and write. Panic.

How did the cover come about (particularly the UK edition with fruit)?

Greg Heinemann is brilliant. Here he is talking about it

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