7 Minutes in Book Heaven with Marisa Crane and I Keep My Exoskeletons To Myself

Welcome to our Summer of Book Love series!

Every Tuesday this summer we will feature new episodes of 7 Minutes in Book Heaven which has your next summer read! New episodes of This Queer Book Saved My Life! drop this September.

Today we meet Marisa Crane and their new novel: I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself.

What’s it about? Dept. of Speculation meets Black Mirror in this lyrical, speculative debut about a queer mother raising her daughter in an unjust surveillance state. Kris is a new mother, grieving the loss of her wife and thoroughly unprepared for the reality of raising a child alone. Kris teeters on the edge of collapse, fumbling in a daze of alcohol, shame, and self-loathing. Yet as the kid grows, Kris finds her footing, raising a child whose irrepressible spark cannot be dampened by the harsh realities of the world. She can’t forget her wife, but with time, she can make a new life for herself and the kid, supported by a community of fellow misfits who defy the Department to lift one another up in solidarity and hope.

Buy I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

Visit our Bookshop or buy directly right now: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9781646221295

We also talk about the writing craft book Meander, Spiral, and Explode by Jane Alison. Buy it here: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9781948226134

Connect with Marisa Crane

Website: marisacrane.org
Instagram: @marisa_crane
Twitter: @mcrane_12

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Host/Founder: J.P. Der Boghossian
Executive Producer: Jim Pounds
Associate Producers: Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith
Patreon Subscribers: Stephen D., Thomas Michna, and Gary Nygaard.


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J.P. Der Boghossian:
Welcome to 7 Minutes in Book Heaven. My name is J.P. Der Boghossian. I’m an essayist, Lambda Literary Fellow, and founder of the Queer Armenian Library. And this is the podcast where I interview LGBTQ authors about the new books they have coming out for us to love and to cuddle up with. This is part of our Summer of Book Love series. Every Tuesday, for the rest of the summer we have your next book to read at the beach, or the pool, or in your bedroom next to the air conditioner. New episodes of This Queer Book Saved My Life! return on September 18!

Marisa: Hi JP, I’m stoked to be here.

J.P.: I’m really looking forward to getting to know about you and this book title especially. So how does this podcast work? I have seven questions for Marissa and we’re going to spend approximately the next seven minutes in this virtual studio talking about I Keep my Exoskeletons to Myself. Apparently I can’t say exo-skeletons today, that’s a fun word.

Marisa: Haha

J.P.: And also we’re going to get to know more about the amazing writer and human who is Marissa Crane. So Marissa, are you ready?

Marisa: I am ready, let’s do it.

J.P.: Allright, the timer is set and here we go. Question number one, please describe, I Keep my Exoskeletons to Myself as if you’re sharing it with your celebrity crush and telling us who that special person is.

Marisa: Aubrey Plaza is like my number one celebrity crush.

J.P.: Yes!

Marisa: She’s Queer and she’s obviously hilarious. She’s also got like a dark and twisted sense of humor about her. She’s in so many weird indie films that are just bizarre. So I feel like in describing this book to her, I would totally pitch it in a different way than I normally would to the everyday person.I would tell her okay, I have this Queer dystopian novel that’s about a grieving mother and an impressive surveillance state, but it’s also darkly funny and witty and Lydia Keasling and the New York Times described the protagonist as mothering with a dirt bag heroism, which is just a phrase that I love and it makes me feel so seen. I think that it would resonate with her even though she’s not a mother, cause I think it’s just so visceral. I would also just make sure to emphasize to her how unhinged the narrator could be and like how strange she is and that there’s also a lot of explicit Lesbian sex in there, cause I think that she would be into that.

J.P. : I can see all of that resonating with Aubrey. So Aubrey, your next book is right here.

Marisa: Right? Ha ha ha.

J.P.: Question number two, what is a sentence from a novel, an essay, a poem or other book that every time you read it, it gives you all the feels?

Marisa: So the entirety of We the Animals gives me all the feels. I will of course pick out a part, but it’s my favorite book of all time. I’ve read it like hundreds of times. I keep it on me like an emotional support blankie.But there’s this moment early on in the book when the three boys, including the narrator, are sitting at a kitchen table in their raincoats and they’re smashing tomatoes with this mallet and like spraying tomato juice everywhere. They’re covered and the mom comes in. She doesn’t get mad about the mess or anything. She starts talking to them, telling them that that’s what they look like when they were born, when they came out of her and they’re like, oh, but then the line that I love, the mom sort of gets introspective and she goes, do it to me. Make me born.

J.P.: Whoa.

Marisa: Yeah, I just, I love that part. I mean, there were so many. It’s so hard to pick out just one part of it, but it’s so moving to me and just flips that relationship on its head in so many, I don’t know, achy, tender ways.

J.P. Der Boghossian:Ooh, that got me shook. I was not expecting that. Okay.

Marisa: Ask and I will deliver.

J.P.: Yes, you did. You absolutely did. All right, let’s see what you got for these next questions.

Marisa: Oh man.

J.P.: Question number three. What do you feel is the best sentence you’ve ever written?

Marisa: That’s so much harder to pick out your own writing. It’s also so hard because I feel like some of my best sentences are what I consider “best”  because of their context. So it’s sometimes hard when it’s standalone, but I do have this line from, I Keep my Exoskeletons to Myself that I really loved that comes early on and the narrator says, “We argued so often we thought we’d made a mistake marrying for love when there were things like fear and loneliness to bind you.”

J.P.: Oh wow, that’s a killer sentence. Ooh, it’s got layers to it. 

Marisa: Thank you.

J.P. All right, question number four. What’s the best romantic scene you’ve ever read?

Marisa: So what came to me first was the book, This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Motar. It’s like a sapphic sci-fi love story between enemies and a time war. It’s literally unlike anything I’ve ever read in my life. And it has these really like moving, swoony letters between the two like enemies in this war and they just go by red and blue. And these letters, they’re just like yearning and they’re like so gorgeous. And at one point towards the end of the book, Red writes Blue this letter because Red’s side is onto them and knows that they’re close to each other. And they want Red to set up Blue to catch her. So in the letter, Red says, your letter, the sting, the beauty of it, those forever as you promise. Neptune. I want to meet you in every place I have ever loved. Listen to me. I am your echo. I would rather break the world than lose you.

J.P.: Wow.

Marisa: The whole book is like that. It’s just like the most sapphic romantic letters you could ever imagine.

J.P.: You are bringing it today Marissa, you did not come to play around.

Marisa: I know, right? I was like, let’s get down to business. Let’s break hearts. Let’s go.

J.P.: This is good. I can’t wait for these next questions. Question number five. What are your favorite scents or smells to write about?

Marisa: 100%  people’s body odor and like sex smells. 

J.P.: Yum.

Marisa: I love bodies and bodily scents and how much they can tell us about us, but also how much they can tell the reader about how we feel about other people. I have this little part in I Keep my Exoskeleton to Myself where the neighbors are super in love with each other. They have this great relationship and they like the smell of each other’s armpits or whatever.

J.P.: Ha ha ha.

Marisa: I feel like it’s like loving someone’s B.O. or on the flip side, being repulsed by a smell that’s maybe typically beautiful. Smell is just so linked to memory and emotions that I feel like people’s bodily smells and whatnot is a really beautiful emotional gateway to all of those things.

J.P.: Absolutely. I’m snapping. I don’t want to make that sound

Marisa: Hahaha

J.P.: We’ve got under a minute left. Question number six. What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever got?

Marisa Crane: So to be honest, most of it, I have a fraught relationship with writing advice in general because I don’t like rules and I feel like things are so prescriptive and they’re always through the lens of what is helpful for that specific person. So it’s like show don’t tell, write every day, write what you know,: all of those are pretty bad to me. But I think one thing that’s been hindering for me specifically was being taught that there was only this typical Western narrative arc of like, beginning, inciting incident or whatever, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. That was just so harmful for me to learn early on and also thinking that was the only way that you could structure a narrative. So that was something that once I freed myself of that was really helpful for me.

J.P.: Absolutely. At the risk of going over on time, is there a structure that you like right now that you’re really digging as you write?

Marisa: I don’t have a specific one. Meander Spiral Explode is the craft book that I read where it has designs and patterns and narrative. It sort of blows up the whole idea of structures and it gives you a million different ways to write things. Like a flower, all of these sort of visual ways to tell a story. Just reading that without having a specific structure in mind was so helpful to think about how a story can play out on the page.

J.P.::I love that. I’m going to include links to that as well in the show notes. Question number seven, promote yourself. How do we order your book? How do we follow you on social?

Marisa: My book, I Keep my Exoskeleton to Myself, is available pretty much anywhere that you can get books, bookshop.org and indie bound are always preferred, you know, to support indie bookstores. It’s also through Barnes and Noble and Amazon if you must. It’s on e, it’s also an audio book as well. And an ebook. So a bunch of avenues. My Instagram handle is Marissa underscore Crane. My Twitter is mcrane underscore 12. And I do have a TikTok. My TikTok is Marissa Crane writes.

J.P.: Fantastic. We will include those in the show notes and on our website as well. Well, that’s all the time that we have. Thank you so much, Marissa.

Marisa: Thank you.

J.P.: Thank you for bringing it today. I really appreciate that. 

Marisa: I appreciate you appreciating it. It’s always good to have someone who’s like, yes, and then responding to it.

J.P.: Right? Well, this has been so lovely. Thanks everyone for listening today. This podcast is Executive Produced by Jim Pounds. Our Associate Producers are Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Ollila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shea, and Sean Smith.

Visit our Bookshop to buy the books featured on our podcasts as well as to browse new collections specifically curated by me. thisqueerbook.com/bookshop We’re @thisqueerbook on Facebook and Instagram. I’m also @jp_derboghossian on TikTok where I tok about LGBTQ books! Be here next Tuesday for the next in our Summer of Book Love series. Until then, see you Queers and allies in the bookstores.

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