Interview: Tiffany Scandal, Author of NASTY!

About Tiffany Scandal 

Tiffany Scandal is the author of three books and the Managing Editor at King Shot Press. Her second book (Jigsaw Youth, 2015, Ladybox Books) exists as an audiobook which the author narrates herself. Her third book (Shit Luck, 2017, Eraserhead Press) was a Wonderland Award finalist for Best Novel and received an option for film. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in Huck Magazine, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Living Dead Magazine, The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, and a handful of anthologies. She is also the editor of NASTY!, a not-for-profit anthology series benefitting Planned Parenthood and SMYRC. When not at a computer, she is a part-time model and photographer and the products of both endeavors can be found online and in print – most notably: Suicide Girls, Auxiliary Magazine, Rise Tattoo Magazine, and a few art books. She has a degree in Feminist Studies from UCSB.

When I first read about NASTY!, I knew Tiffany was a perfect fit or our Fierce Female issue and we had to get an interview with her. 

Take it back to the beginning. Tell us a bit about NASTY! and how the idea came about. 

TS: Nasty! came from extreme anger and frustration. On a personal level, I found myself going to writing/publishing meetings that were largely male-dominated, and a lot of times, I felt like my voice and contributions didn’t matter. Peers I had respected often spoke over me, or only saw value in me if they thought they had a chance to get into my pants. When I’d speak up, I was told to not “make waves” and was assured that issues would get addressed privately, but it never seemed like they did because this went on for years. On a much larger scale, I had just witnessed this country elect a man who had openly admitted to sexually assaulting women. I saw Planned Parenthood, a resource that helped me when I was really struggling to get by and didn’t have access to adequate health facilities, be constantly under attack. The morning after the election results, I was working a morning shift at a bar. The space was filled with women, asking for the strongest drinks we could offer, and everything was mostly silent except for the sobbing. Women everywhere were hurting.

I wanted to give women a platform. To speak about whatever was on their mind. To share their stories, uninterrupted. I was told numerous times this book would bomb, but I didn’t care. This felt too important.   

Volume Two just came out a few months ago. Can you tell the readers a little bit about the new book and what readers can look forward to? 

TS: While the cover may look brighter, it is a darker, heavier second chapter. It continues to push the boundaries of the kinds of stories women share. Tragic and heartbreaking, the anthology is still so incredibly empowering. It’s difficult to think about it without getting chills. 

NASTY hits on some tough subject. Can you talk about some of the issues and struggles brought to life in NASTY! Volume One & Two?

TS: Oh, man. I intentionally kept the submission guidelines vague because I wanted women to write the stories they wanted to tell, the stories they felt needed to be heard. Both volumes provide a street-view tour of the feminist struggle, covering topics such as body positivity, sexual empowerment, overcoming adversity, surviving trauma, and defining consent. Stories that will make you laugh, cry, and feel like you can take on the world. The Nasty! anthology series is here to make waves.

Since Nasty came out, what kind of impact have you seen these collections have on the community? Are there any stories that you can share from your readers feedback?  

TS: I don’t think we were ready for these books to take off like they did. Nasty! was featured on the local news. We headlined a reading at the largest independent bookstore in the country, reading to an audience of at least 80 people. We hosted a nationwide tour so that the writers could take the stage and share their stories. Nasty! has been picked up by bookstores and vendors all across the country, and it was a huge hit in Spain. 

Most recently, I received an email from a reader whose sister is a huge fan of the series. She would read and re-read the books during her breaks from exams, and now she’s recently been accepted in a University in Paris to study Political Science. I’ve also received countless messages from men who were shocked by some of the stories in the series, saying that even though they knew that there was struggle, these stories helped them feel like they were in the shoes of these women. It warmed my heart to see people want to become a better advocate and ally.

What does it mean to you to be a “Fierce Female” 

TS: A fierce female is unapologetic about who they are. They speak their mind and recognize that sisterhood is powerful. We stand up for all women (and non-binary) folk.

What are some Fierce Female authors on your radar? 

TS: Violet LeVoit, Juliet Escoria, Lindsay Hunter, Samantha Irby, Rios de la Luz, Rhonda J Gracia, Kristen J Sollee, Rachel Stevens, Devora Gray.

What are your top 5 books by fierce female authors and why? 

TS: “I Miss the World” by Violet LeVoit. This book covers trauma in a way I’ve never seen before. It reminds me of writings by Samuel Beckett and early Chuck Palanhiuk, but still very much is own beast. There’s a twist in the book that occurs about 3/4’s of the way through that is some of the best damn writing I’ve ever come across. 

“Written on the Body” by Jeanette Winterson. This books reads like poetry about sex and dying. The genderless narrator pays tribute to their dying lover in the most morbid, yet romantic way possible. 

“Bitch Planet” by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Okay, so this is actually a comic series, but it’s so damn good. The series is about fierce women who get sent to an off-planet prison for being “non-compliant.” The comic is feminist as fuck, and I always recommend this one every chance I get. 

“Meaty!” by Samantha Irby. I’m a huge fan of her blog Bitches Gotta Eat, so when Meaty! was announced, I jumped on that shit immediately. It’s a collection of personal essays that are raw, hilarious, and so deeply unapologetic. 

“Black Cloud” by Juliet Escoria. This is a another collection of essays, but about self-destruction. This books reads like poetry, and I’m pretty damn sure that Escoria is this generation’s Plath. 

What have you personally learned from making the Nasty! volumes? 

TS: I actually learned a lot about community working on these books. There were a lot of people who showed up and went above and beyond to help support this project, and for that, I am eternally gratefully. 

Any last comments or wisdom that you want to share to our Fierce Female readers? 

TS: Do you. Be you. Don’t be afraid to take up space and be heard.

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