Question: How nervous was I (Moxie) when I emailed Siobhan O’Connor, a co-author of No More Dirty Looks book to ask if she would agree to be interviewed?
Answer: Very. I’m not a writer by profession; it was intimidating because Siobhan:
*is an Author: No More Dirty Looks Book
*has two positions at Prevention Magazine (read the interview to find out more)
*Plus! She blogs with her co-author, Alexandra Spunt, of No More Dirty Looks
Siobhan, let me make sure that I, (and the rest of your fans), correctly pronounce your name. Is it “Shiv-awn”?
Yes! Though I’ve had my name mispronounced since French immersion school as a kid so I pretty much answer to anything, including the half dozen different nicknames I’ve been given over the years.
Were you always writing when you were growing up?
Yep. My mom recently reminded me that I was first published when I was about 6, for a poem I wrote about a kid making up fanciful stories to avoid going to sleep. I also started a paper with friends in the fifth grade and did zines in high school. Aside from a brief and ill-fated stint as an ice cream girl, this is mostly all I’ve ever done.
Any particular types of stories that were your favorite to write?
The book (No More Dirty Looks) is the project I am most proud of because it was collaborative and felt really important. Working with Alexandra, or Alie as I call her, continues to be a major source of pleasure for me. I also wrote for years for music magazines, and I still do. Beyond that? I reported on and off for a few years about public housing in Chicago. I forget about that sometimes, but my boyfriend asked me about it recently, and it reminded me how important it was, and is, to me.
The work I love to do most adds, I would hope anyway, to people’s understanding of things that hide in plain sight. Cosmetics and social issues both fit that bill. Rap music, less so. But the impulse, believe it or not, is the same.
What inspired you to have a career as a writer?
I like telling stories. I like digging in to things and sharing what I find. I am very curious. But for me what matters most is what the end game is: sharing what I have found. It’s also why I love editing. My writers do things I never could and I admire the hell out of them for it. I also get to learn so much about things I might not otherwise do a deep dive on. I feel lucky for that.
In college, were people always asking you to help them with their writing assignments?
Ha! Not really. I didn’t have a typical college experience. I took time off between my first year at University of Toronto before coming to Columbia, and then I did that while working at magazines, which was hard! I had no school friends and eventually left without finishing. Truth is, too, that a lot of my friends are writers or editors as well. We read each other’s work.
What was your first paid writing assignment?
I don’t even remember! But my first feature was a story I pitched to the alternative weekly I worked at, when I was 18 or 19, called the Montreal Mirror. It was about furries — people who dress up as and/or identify as animals. These were teenagers living with their parents who spent most of their time online, before most of us even had an AOL address, and they were terrified of getting caught. It was fascinating and hard, and I felt lucky that they opened up as much as they did.
What is your position at Prevention Magazine?
I’m senior editor of the print magazine, working on environment stories, mental health, and alternative health. I am also deputy editor of the web site, which I am over the moon about.
How do you dress when you go to work?
Skinny Jeans, men’s shirts, loose tops, chunky boots or high heels, little fun dresses. It’s pretty casual when you work in magazines, thank goodness. I do love dressing up though.
On the weekends?
A nightie or yoga clothes? Haha. If I’m going out, it’s variations on the work looks. If I’m going out-out I like cool dresses, short but not hoochie, skirts with tights, skinny jeans with a fun top.
Do you have time to read for pleasure? Favorite books/authors?
For sure. Favorites are predictable: Joan Didion, James Joyce, Nabokov. The last novel I read was Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which I quite liked! The last nonfiction book I read was a Buddhist text by Trungpa. I’m almost done with a new book, out this spring, about the hormone oxytocin by Paul Zak. Fascinating!
Disclosure: I have nothing to disclose. All links are for your convenience only.
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