Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey & Sylvia Plath is an anthology of stories inspired by these two muses. If you are curious to know why these artists inspired the authors & learn a little about what makes them tick, this is your chance!
We asked each of them three questions to help you get to know them & the stories behind their fabulous Tragedy Queens stories. This is part I. Tune in next week for part II.
1 WHICH IS YOUR MUSE, PLATH OR LANA OR BOTH?
2 WHO ARE YOU?
3 WHICH LANA SONG/VIDEO OR PLATH POEM/BOOK WAS YOUR INSPIRATION?
Story: The Blacklist
Author: Kathryn Louise
1. Lana was my muse for this short story but I adore them both. There’s a beautiful bitterness to their work that calls to my privileged, sad self.
2. I’m a writer and photographer from Olympia, WA, an MFA candidate at Pacific University, an Evergreen graduate, occasional model and filmmaker and former aspiring forensic anthropologist.
3. Lana’s song “Kinda Outta Luck.” I took the story she tells and expanded on it to create Lola, a character inspired by my experiences as a model.
Story: Crazy Mary
Author: Patricia Grisafi
1. Although I like Lana’s music and her persona very much (Ultraviolence is my favorite album), Plath has been inspiring me since I was twelve years old and picked up The Bell Jar. It spoke to me so much as a floundering adolescent — and it was incredibly funny. I could really relate to Plath’s sardonic wit and her cut-throat observations about the world. I wrote my college honors thesis on Plath’s poetry, and one of the chapters in my Doctoral dissertation is on The Bell Jar, so liking Plath’s work is not just a phase depressed girls go through! She’s smart, funny, fresh, heartbreaking, and culturally astute about her historical moment. Her work is transcendent. We can still learn so much from her.
2. I live in the East Village with my husband and our two rescue pitbulls, and we’re expecting our first kiddo in June! I taught college English for eight years while working on my PhD, and now I work as an Associate Editor at Ravishly as well as freelance. I also volunteer at an animal shelter and enjoy hiking and horseback riding. I love horror movies, true crime, and dark tourism — like visiting places where murders or tragedies have taken place.
3. I was mostly inspired by The Bell Jar. I typically write personal essays, so this was my first attempt at fiction (although I did really study abroad in Italy in the early aughts). I wanted to create a story that, like The Bell Jar, deconstructed typically idealized experiences and put forth commentary on mental health care. Growing up, I suffered from depression, anxiety, and OCD. I wasn’t able to get help until I ended up in a psychiatric hospital in my mid-twenties. I wanted to create a character who is clearly suffering but also ignored — like Esther was in The Bell Jar. It was very important for me to get that voice down.
Author: Devora Gray
1. I’d say they both have equal whispering powers; Plath as a melancholy ghost, Lana as a truculent siren who has seen far too much, too soon.
2. I’m a serious writer. Serious. No fun, just work. I’m kidding! As a thirty-something living in Sin City, I overdose on coffee, CrossFit, and fetish origins. Hobbies include pole dancing, mismatched cutlery, and holding up drunk people.
3. I loved “The Bell Jar” but, boy, did it piss me off! Not Plath, but the culture that turned a blind-eye to struggling female artists who are also mothers. I wrote the story years ago after obsessing about what happens to the children of suicidal parents.
Story: And All The World Drops Dead
Author: Max Booth III
1. Definitely Lana. Nothing wrong with Plath, but I just never found myself really investing too much time in reading poetry. My fault, not hers. But Lana? Oh boy. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to Ultraviolence. It’s a perfect album.
2. Raised in Northern Indiana, I hopped on a bus at age 18 to Texas, and I’ve been here ever since (I’ll be 25 in July). I raised the bus fare by ghost-writing Wikipedia articles for indie writers. I’ve worked as an overnight stocker at Walmart and various other less-famous retail stores. Currently I am a hotel night auditor. I’m also the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the small press, Perpetual Motion Machine, the Managing Editor of Dark Moon Digest, the co-host of Castle Rock Radio: A Stephen King Podcast, a columnist for LitReactor, and the author of several novels, the latest being The Nightly Disease. I don’t know if I have any weird quirks. I suppose, for it to be a legitimate weird quirk, I wouldn’t even be aware that it was a weird quirk. It would just seem like a normal thing to me, right?
3. Definitely Lana’s “Ultraviolence” from the album of the same name. The opening lines pretty much wrote the entire story for me: “He used to call me DN/That stood for Deadly Nightshade/’Cause I was filled with poison/But blessed with beauty and rage.”
But also, Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song” played a major influence. Hell, just look at the title of my story and that should tell you everything you need to know. (“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead/I lift my lids and all is born again/I think I made you up inside my head”).
Story: Without Him (and Him, and Him) There is No Me
Author: Laura Diaz de Arce
1.Lana definitely, both her oeuvre at the time and iconography.
2. I am a writer and general malcontent from South Florida. I write for Smoking Mirror Press in between angry letters to my congressmen. You can find me complaining in ALL CAPS on twitter @QuetaAuthor
3. For Lana, it was “ride” “races” “young and beautiful” “born to die” “carmen” “blue jeans” and “ultraviolence” that served as chief inspiration, but I also just let her music play while writing.
Story: Going About 99
Author: Christine Stoddard
2. I’m a writer, artist, and the most Type A free spirit you will ever meet. When I’m not writing copy for The Man, I’m writing books, staging photo shoots, making small films, and getting my hands messy dabbling in various visual art forms. I recently made a stained glass sculpture for the first time ever, thanks to a class by Kelsie McNair at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn. (Also thanks to a kick-ass scholarship. Donate to nonprofits, folks. They really do make a difference in people’s lives.) The class was scary but fun, in large part because I’d never worked with glass or lead before. But it was worth trying something new, per usual. Taking risks is what allowed me to start Quail Bell Magazine. It’s what got my first full-length poetry and photo book—Water for the Cactus Woman—accepted by Spuyten Duyvil Publishing in New York. It’s the very reason I got to be the artist-in-residence at Annmarie Sculpture Garden, a Smithsonian affiliate, in Maryland last summer and why I will be a visiting artist at Laberinto Projects in El Salvador this summer. It’s the reason my work has appeared in the New York Transit Museum, the Queens Museum, the Poe Museum, the Ground Zero Hurricane Katrina Museum, and beyond. Let’s all take risks! Let’s be Plath and Lana at once.
3. Lana’s “Summertime Sadness,” specifically the line “Cruising down the coast goin’ ’bout 99.”
Story: The Lazarus Wife
Author: Tiffany Morris
1. Both! Plath has been my muse since I was fourteen, but Lana is a great soundtrack for life/writing.
2. I’m a writer, tarot reader, and witch from Nova Scotia. When not chanting or buying crystals, I can be found looking for UFOS and window shopping overpriced makeup.
3. “The Lazarus Wife” is a mashup of “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath and Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence.”
Story: Stag Loop
Author: Brendan Vidito
1. In the case of my story, “Stag Loop”, Plath was more of a direct influence. The piece underwent several iterations. While writing the most recent one, I attempted to capture a specific mood and her poetry, especially one piece in particular (see below), offered some guidance.
2. I’m a short, neurotic Canadian dude who lives in Northern Ontario. I’ve been on a steady diet of horror films and literature for over a decade and it’s rewired my brain to the point where everything appears sinister and uncanny. At least six percent of my body is made of titanium and industrial rubber. A priest might have once suspected I was possessed by a demon. And I absolutely love cheese. The bluer the better.
3. Plath’s poem “Two Views of a Cadaver Room” drew me in from the first line and set my brain on fire. I was intrigued by how she described the corpses—more like broken, dusty mementos than formerly living things. For some strange reason, I drew a mental connection between the mortuary arts and the adult film industry, and the idea for my story took root. While editing the piece, I listened to a Lana Del Rey playlist on repeat. Her sound, both ethereal and nostalgic, helped me better craft the atmosphere of my story.
TRAGEDY QUEENS TOC
- THE BLACKLIST: KATHRYN LOUISE
- CRAZY MARY: PATRICIA GRISAFI
- PIPEDREAMS: DEVORA GRAY
- AND ALL THE WORLD DROPS DEAD: MAX BOOTH III
- WITHOUT HIM (AND HIM, AND HIM) THERE IS NO ME: LAURA DIAZ DE ARCE
- GOING ABOUT 99: CHRISTINE STODDARD
- THE LAZARUS WIFE: TIFFANY MORRIS
- STAG LOOP: BRENDAN VIDITO
- SP WORLD: LORRAINE SCHEIN
- A GHOST OF MY OWN MAKING: ASHLEY INGUANTA
- LOOSE ENDS: A MOVIE: TIFFANY SCANDAL
- GIRLS IN THE GARDEN OF HOLY SUFFERING: LISA MARIE BASILE
- THE GODS IN THE BLOOD: GABINO IGLESIAS
- THE LAND OF OTHER: FARAH ROSE SMITH
- SAD GIRL: MONIQUE QUINTANA
- CORINNE: JC DRAKE
- SPHINX TEARS: CARA DIGIROLAMO
- RITUALS OF GORGONS: LARISSA GLASSER
- THE WIFE: VICTORIA DALPE
- DAYGLO REFLECTION: MANUEL CHAVARRIA
- CATMAN’S HEART: LAURA LEE BAHR
- PANIC BIRD: SELENE MACLEOD
- BECAUSE OF THEIR DIFFERENT DEATHS: STEPHANIE WYTOVICH