I couldn't think of anyone better than Seattle indie Author Ashley Schwellenbach to kick off my first episode of Sparkle and Destroy - a podcast for nasty women who make vibrant, noisy art. Why? She's always been a source of inspiration and wonder and strength. In essence, she sparkles AND she destroys. Plus she has this uncanny ability to both work extremely hard yet never truly grow up. I want to be like her.
Since hiring me as a writer at SLO New Times in 2012 (where she worked for nearly a decade as managing editor and tireless prankster) I have come to learn many things about this hard working and imaginative woman.
One, she is always and forever without writing, writing, writing. This is no joke. She literally cannot live without her craft, and she is always conjuring up the most strange and sumptuous imaginary worlds. You'll hear on this first episode how she writes 1,000 words a day when she's penning a book and never gives herself a day off. We could all use a little of Ashley's grit! Sometimes the hardest commitments are the creative promises we make to ourselves.
2) She loves sweets, ice cream and #1, PIES PIES PIES with a passion I've never witnessed before ever in my life. At least back in the day, she only ate white veggies (when she even ate veggies - Ashley is a strange vegetarian). I pray this has changed. I am pretty sure her amazing boyfriend Collin has helped with this (thank you Collin! White veggies are the secret diet of the "Alt Right" and we all know that leafy greens lead to a longer life!). Find out what kind of pie Ashley would be if she were a pie on episode 1 (hint: it's sweet and sour).
3) She is a fearless crusader for truth, magic, and fun. She does. not. give. a. fuck. about offending. you. Her books are full of powerful and wild female characters that bend perception and challenge the status quo. You'll hear more about her I Love Lucy-esqe artistic shenanigans (i.e. almost drowning her pregnant friend while filming a book trailer; taking photos of me on a toilet seat for a bizarre calendar project that included toilet paper, a spatula, and a stick-on mustache). Oh god, there are so, so many.
Why you should care about supporting your fellow female artist: Ashley knows firsthand that living a creative life is not easy and it actually takes quite a bit of dedication, perseverance, and downright slogging. When anyone finishes anything (a song, a novel, a painting, literally anything) we should all cheer. It's not easy, and a rising tide lifts all boats. WHAT GOOD IS GLITTER IF WE DON'T ALL SHINE TOGETHER?
I, for one, am excited to read The Wheel Diver, a tale of warrior roller derby tribes who race along a bejeweled track - the kind of fantasy world I'd like to slip into right about now (we can only take so much 24/7 Trumpian news - I mean "alternative facts").
Like all of Ashley's books, this tome is sure to be as much about the adventurous world that lives inside the writer's head as it will be about amplifying urgent social commentary. Entertainment + Social Consciousness?
By golly, I'll take it! Until the Kickstarter launch this March 1, you'll find me watching Super Squirrel, which is basically American Ninja Warrior for Squirrels. Also highly recommended.
Listen to Episode 1 of Sparkle and Destroy featuring Ashley Schwellenbach on iTunes, or here (I know the sound isn't perfect - I'm learning as I go, sue me):