FRIENDS! Are these shoes not AMAZING?? They belong to Domenica Di Piazza, an editor I’m working with on a nonfiction project, and a true wearer of Outlaw Boots (the fanciest ones to date). Domenica works at Lerner Publishing Group, based in the Twin Cities, and she is the editorial director of Twenty-First Century Books. When she approached me with the project, I was thrilled–it’s going to be great fun. But then I discovered what an outlaw she is–with the appropriate shoes–so I wanted to feature her in this series.
So you know: I have a thing for shoes like this, though I rarely admit it. When my feet were a size 7, all sorts of fancy shoe dreams danced through my head–but I was 8 at the time. : ( As a grown-up, I wear an 11 (loud sigh), so I gave those dreams up. But my passion has been re-ignited! Finding something gorgeous in my size could be like looking for a zebra in my basement, but who knows?
Here’s Domenica, reading in her office. If you want to know more about her lovely shoes, read this blog entry here. Otherwise, get ready to be introduced to a very thoughtful, very thorough outlaw who wears very fancy Outlaw Boots.–Who’s your most outlaw character (in any book)–why? After my mother’s death in 2002, I was invited by a friend and editorial colleague to write an essay for a gardening anthology called The Gardener’s Bedside Reader(Voyageur Press, 2008). I chose to write about my mother, who was, like me, a scattershot but passionate gardener. She was also a fearsome outlaw who broke all kinds of rules throughout her entire life, from marrying my Sicilian father in the 1950s (she came from a very white bread Protestant background), to coming out as a lesbian in the 1970s, to her final most complete act of transgression—her death by suicide. In the essay, I write about her choice to end her life in this way, and although it was an excruciatingly painful event for me to come to terms with, I have ended up respecting her decision as a choice of free will that completely fit with who she was, what she wanted, and what she stood for.
–Are you an outlaw too? How do you know? I am an outlaw in the sense that I am able to and do make choices and decisions that stay true to the core of who I am. This has meant asking for or insisting on things that are not always what other people want to grant or that make things uncomfortable for other people. For example, in high school, I bowed out of a model United Nations session in New York at a very awkward moment for the teacher who had organized our participation in the event. At the time, I felt I had made the decision out of personal weakness and disregard for a greater good. Now, in looking back, I feel that I made the choice out of the ability to recognize the fit was all wrong—an act I know view as one of strength and courage.
What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character–maybe outlaw boots?)? I love high heels in the 3- to 5-inch range. In our culture, especially here in the Midwest, they are a dramatic, hard-to-miss statement of femininity and devotion to beauty and as such are a very assertive look. I like the way heels are above all else an aesthetic posture; not particularly practical but gorgeous.
–Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character: Just call me Coco Chanel.
–Best thing about being an outlaw: The pleasure of being true to yourself and oh yes of standing out from the rest of the crowd. Have to admit there’s a bit of ego and vanity in all of this.
–Favorite outlaw/badass food: Depends on my mood and the season, but recently I had smoked pork belly with pickled apples and LOVED it. At that same meal, I also had cauliflower ice cream, which was AMAZING.
–Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why: When I was young, I loved romantic outlaws of literature who were done in by their transgressions. For example, I preferred the troubled, wild Catherine Earnshaw over seemingly quiet, dull Jane Eyre. As I’ve gotten older, I find I’m drawn to the literary outlaws who survive, since in many ways surviving is the toughest outlaw act of all in this thing called life. I’m reading the Karla trilogy by John le Carre these days, and I find dull old boring George Smiley to be an amazing outlaw role model. We first meet him more or less at the end of his reign with the British Secret Service, as a postwar character who is essentially outmoded and no longer welcome within the inner circles of the system—unless the system needs his brilliant mind, which it always does. He faces life and its betrayals with amazing steadfastness, calm, and an odd sort of integrity—even though he carries out his craft using all its awful tricks. I guess I’d say he’s a compromised outlaw, which seems very REAL to me.