Susan Tepper:  Misti, I had difficulty choosing from your work because you write so many good pieces.  But I decided to go with Bad Wiring for this chat because it seems to contain a universal theme vis a vis women and men. You write:

She was a defective model. He wanted to send her back but no one would take her.

I don’t think there is a woman dead or alive that hasn’t felt that way at least one time in her life.  Now I’m going way out on a limb here by saying: Despite the Womens’ Movement, it’s still a man’s world.

Misti Rainwater-Lites: Thanks, Susan. It’s absolutely a man’s world. I say this with all the weight of almost four decades of life at the poverty level in America behind me. I’ve spent time in three different mental hospitals, given birth twice, been married and divorced twice, begged men in various topless bars to give me tips so my boyfriend wouldn’t leave me and been betrayed by numerous women (including my own mother) because of men. We don’t need a new wave of feminism in America. We need a tsunami. I’m willing to sacrifice my lipstick and my eyeliner if I have to but I refuse to put down my vibrator and my pen.

Susan:  Damn straight.  And keep that pen and vibrator going.

Your stories and poems are all voice and color.  They burst on the page, they murmur, they scream.  But they do not bore.  In this particular story Bad Wiring, we get a whole world in a flash fiction.  You write:

It seemed she was all his until she completely broke down. Then he could scrap her and go shopping. The idea of that shiny day kept him going.

Now where I see the brilliance that is unique to your voice, is your choice of the word “shiny.”  That shiny day… One word and it turns this piece into very black humor.  But, humor.  Not simply a dark passage of writing.

Misti:  Humor is natural for me. I wrote a short ghost story a few months ago and it was published online. When I went back and read it a couple of weeks ago I laughed out loud. This happens a lot. I tend to shy away from genre but the few times that I have written erotica, pornography, science fiction or horror, my weird sense of humor infiltrates the tone. When I was a kid, whenever I was in a bad mood my mom and maternal grandmother would poke fun at me by singing a song that went “nobody loves me everybody hates me I’m going to eat a worm” or by telling me, “You’ve got the same little britches to get glad in.” You can’t come out of a childhood like that without a strong sense of humor intact. My favorite novel of all time is Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut was the master of black humor. And my favorite comedian is the late Bill Hicks. His rage fueled his hilarious commentary. I love that, the marriage of rage and humor.

Susan:  the marriage of rage and humor is so perfect for describing your work, Misti.  Now in this story we have a group of poet friends (hmm… poets…always a risky venture) haha!   But it all seems to circle around the theme of the imperfect woman, or as you write “the defective wife.”  That is such a big issue for women over the age of 25!  I’m way older than 25 but I don’t feel old. Yet, statistically, today, women are tossed aside for much younger women at a greater rate than ever before in history.  Ours is a money driven culture and it all boils down to economics.  The sugar-daddy syndrome  alive and thriving.  You write:

The husband and the valuable associate entered the kitchen to find the bad wife mopping the linoleum, naked except for a pair of red high heels, screaming along to an Iron Maiden song that was blasting from the stereo. Well, he thought, at least she’s finally taking in interest in housework.

The image is kind of almost classic.  It’s funny, due to the nudity, but the red high heels give it an old-time sitcom feeling, sort of Donna Reed on acid.

Misti: I married late by Texas standards. I was 27 when I married my first husband. We had horrible fights. He had never lived with a woman before. He came from a protective, close-knit, middle class New York Italian family. I come from an extremely dysfunctional working class Texas family. We came together because of a mutual respect and admiration for each other’s writing but that wasn’t enough to keep us together for any length of time. One of our worst fights occurred in a grocery store parking lot the night before Thanksgiving. He wanted me to go inside the store and buy a turkey. I was in no frame of mind for shopping. He tried to force me out of the car and it got real ugly real quick. My second husband was much more tolerant of my idiosyncrasies and weird mood swings. He never expected me to bake a turkey.

Susan:  The way you bring your emotional life into the work feels seamless.  A dysfunctional marriage leading to a story of a dysfunctional marriage.  Quite lovely to be able to accomplish this.  It isn’t easy, many writers shirk from their “truth.”   In method acting we were taught to dig into that stuff and use it in the role.  I think you could easily be an actor, Misti, if you ever tire of the writing life.

Read Bad Wiring by Misti Rainwater-Lites

Monday Chat is a bi-weekly series in which Susan Tepper has a conversation with a Fictionaut writer about one of his or her stories. Susan’s new book From the Umberplatzen is a collection of linked-flash published by Wilderness House Press. 

  1. Ann Bogle

    This interview gives me a shot of much needed nerve and I even cried when I got to “tsunami” to the end of the paragraph. I almost never cry and never on cue. Thanks, Susan and Misti, for a good chat.

  2. Marcus Speh

    Shiny interview, good stuff. Must re-read Slaughterhouse Five, which also is a favorite of mine, and must re-read some Rainwater-Lites, the name that doesn’t give the poor Texas relations away but rather sounds like public school and like life at Blandings Castle with a demented cousin named Eddy Farnsworth and a horse-faced aunt.

  3. RW Spryszak

    Oh hai what’s happening here? Well it just so happens this Ms. Rainwater-Lites will have a feature in the July Thrice Fiction, fancy that!

  4. Michael Gillan Maxwell

    Loved the interview! Misti Rainwater-Lites is one of my all time favorite writers ~ able to evoke a visceral response in me that runs the gamut of emotions with a single torrent of words. I LOVE her book Blank Cake and read everything I can get my hands on on Fictionaut. I am a man and I am comfortable in my own skin with that in this lifetime. But it’s time for the old yang male dominated patriarchal society to lay it down, stop embarrassing all of us and make way for the Divine Feminine. Right on and write on sisters! Keep going. Keep putting your message out there. May your days be filled with laughter, magic and light. Great interview Susan Tepper ~ thank you both for being!

  5. Michael Gillan Maxwell

    Hi. My comment disappeared when I hit submit so if it comes up as a duplicate please edit/ delete one of them. Thank you Susan Tepper and Misti Rainwater-Lites for such an energetic, thought provoking and inspiring interview. Misti Rainwater-Lites is one of my favorite all-time writers ~ able to evoke with a single torrent of words, a visceral response that runs the full gamut of emotions. I love her book “Blank Cake” and I read everything I can get my hands on in Fictionaut. I am a man who is comfortable in his own skin during this lifetime, but it’s time for the yang-driven, male-dominated patriarchy to give it up, stop embarrassing all of us and make way for the Divine Feminine! So right on, and write on sisters! Keep going. Keep putting your message out there. May your days be filled with laughter, magic and light. Thanks for being!

  6. RW Spryszak

    Misti Rainwater-Lites will be part of the mix in Thrice Fiction upcoming July issue. FYI.

  7. Meg Tuite

    WOW! This was amazing! Misti, you rock it like nobody else. Thank you for sharing your truth! I also agree that pathos and humor are the best combo for a great story! And oh, you do it so well!
    Great questions, Susan, as always! LOVED this interview! Thank you both!

  8. Robert Vaughan

    This is balls-to-the-wall, straight up, in your face, and refreshingly brave stuff. The kind of interview (only women can do) that makes me so thrilled to be alive, and a writer. Thanks!

  9. Gloria Mindock

    I am trying to submit again here. Weird things are happening. If it duplicates, please delete one and forgive.
    Loved this interview Misti and Susan.
    Beginning is great. Yes, it is still a man’s world! I wanted to break out and start singing James Browns song, “It’s a Man’s World.” Oh, how I love that song!!!

    Good stuff—–“Marriage of rage and humor.”

  10. Gessy Alvarez

    Misti, I love your unapologetic, courageous, outrageous stories. But most of all, I admire your courage. Thanks so much for sharing your work with us! Great interview, Susan!

  11. estelle bruno

    This is one funny, great story Misti. Brought back “nobody loves me, I will eat worms”!!!
    Susan has asked all the right questions, and they were great

  12. Misti

    I’m so happy to be a part of this community. You are all so talented and generous. I am humbled. Thank you all for reading and encouraging!

  13. susan tepper

    I had a great time doing this chat with Misti! Thanks for all the kind remarks left here, so far, and don’t forget to read “Bad Wiring”…

  14. Linda Simoni-Wastila

    Well, that was refreshing ;^)

    Seriously, I always love the honesty in Misti’s work, and it shines in this interview. Best line wish I had thought up–I’m willing to sacrifice my lipstick and my eyeliner if I have to but I refuse to put down my vibrator and my pen.

    Misti, so glad you are in our ranks, makiing change one word at a time. Susan, as always, your questions and insights find the sweet spot. Peace…

  15. Steven Gowin

    To echo Robert Vaughn and Elizabeth Cook, “sometimes it takes balls to be a woman.” Love your work.

  16. Penny Goring

    I admire the way Misti writes. Great to read this fab interview. Thanks.

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