Zoe Trope Interview

How the hell did you get so good already? What kind of books have you been

I'm sure it's going to sound like I'm just kissing ass, but Kevin Sampsell
is the only reason I got this far. I started reading "weird" books around
the 6th or 7th grade. I picked colorful titles off the Young Adult shelf at
the library and stopped paying attention to what the teachers at school were
telling me to read. What did they know anyway? Teachers always said my
writing was great and otherwise ignored me. In the 8th grade, I took a
writing class that Kevin taught and it all went to hell from there. I never
had a teacher who told me to write dialogues or remix poems or anything
creative at all. At the time, I figured Kevin was a nut or a genius. I went
to the library to get his book to see which was true, and I discovered he is
a complete psycho AND amazingly talented. His book How To Lose Your Mind
With The Lights On completely changed the way I thought about writing and
expressing ideas and using words. The lessons he taught me didn't really
sink in until after the class was over, but by that time I was already
e-mailing him samples of my writing.

The last book I read was Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, which completely
rocked my world. The book is about a super-smart 15-year-old girl who goes
to a summer-camp for nerds and falls in love with another girl. Other books
I've read lately include a collection of bisexual erotica, Thea Hillman's
new book Depending on the Light, and The Subject Steve by Sam Lipsyte.


The thing about your book is it's a memoir but all the names had to be
altered. It still became the talk of the school and you got in trouble for
it. What's going on?

Agh. My Vice Principal thought it would be a good idea to have a security
guard pull me out of class and drag me down to her office for an ol'
fashioned belittling session. She began her spiel by stuttering about how
the school didn't endorse the book in any way and didn't want any part in
it. Also, how she understood if I was selling the book through "personal
contacts" but I wasn't allowed to use the school as a method of
advertisement to increase sales. Her main point was that something I said
about a certain teacher could be considered libellous and that IF he sued, I
would lose the case. She made sure I understood that if it went to court, I
would be in "big trouble." I told her that the names were changed, but she
argued that I would still lose in court. I think it annoyed her that I was
so flippant about it, and even joked by saying, "Yeah, he's going to sue me
for my non-existent college fund." After about twenty minutes she said,
"Well, that's about it." There wasn't anything I had done wrong, I hadn't
broken any rules, I wasn't going to suffer any consequences. She just wanted
to warn me of something that wasn't even going to happen. I tried to make
sure she didn't see me roll my eyes as she told me to be "more careful"
about what I wrote about in the futre. Hah. I told Kevin and my father about
this incident, and they decided it would be best to just leave it alone. The
woman is obviously a moron, and rather than call her on every little mistake
she makes, they're going to give her more rope to hang herself on. I have a
feeling I'm going to get expelled from that place before I graduate.

You deal with some complex issues in your book, including parts about sex
and gay characters. How have your parents been taking this?

My mother has read the whole book, my father hasn't. I told my parents they
could read it as long as they didn't make ANY comments about it, and they
agreed. My mother couldn't help but comment on some of the writing style,
but as far as content was concerned, she didn't say much. My parents are
more than aware of the gay friends in my life, so writing about them wasn't
a big deal.

You've only done one reading for the book so far (at Powell's Books, with
Thea Hillman, Beth Lisick, and Justin Chin). How was it?

Quite possibly the most amazing thing I've ever done. I thought I'd be
really nervous, but I felt surprisingly calm. It wasn't like giving a speech
for school or talking at an assembly. The people who were there WANTED to
listen to me and were interested in what I had to said. Plus, Thea and Beth
and Justin were so supportive. They really helped me feel confident.
Overall, I had a lot of people who loved me in the audience, so I felt
great. I can't wait to do another reading.

Now that you're halfway through your sophomore year, are you feeling any
more social power at your school? Are you what they would call "popular"?

No. The school is huge and many students don't have any idea who I am. If
they do know who I am, it's because I'm the "smart" girl or the "Earth Club"
girl or something like that. A lot of kids in my grade are aware of my
existence, but I don't think they know I've written a book or anything. I'm
just the weird 'hippie' girl who makes all the teachers turn off their
lights. I think I'm only popular among the administration and staff.

What kind of writing do you want to do in the future?

Every kind, except technical or scientific. I had to write a huge paper in
my advanced chemistry class and it was a nightmare. I am not good at being
short and concise. I've always been interested in journalism, but I'm not
sure how good I am at that sort of writing. At the moment, I'm writing lots
of short memoir-ish letters to people I know. I'd like to try writing some
short fiction pieces in the near future.


Britney or Christina?

Fuck you. It's Ani & Tori all the way, baby.