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Interview with Riki Wilchins

Riki Wilchins is an author, activist and gender theorist.  The founding E.D. of GenderPAC, she is the author of Queer Theory/Gender Theory: An Instant Primer (Magnus Books) and co-editor of GenderQueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary (Magnus Books).  Her most recent books are is TRANSgressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media & Congress… and Won and Burn the Binary: Selected Writings on Trans, GenderQueer and Nonbinary.

Her work has been published in periodicals like the Village Voice and Social Text, as well as Feminist Frontiers, Language Awareness, and The Encyclopedia of Identity.  She has been profiled in the New York Times, and Time Magazine selected her one of "100 Civic Innovators for the 21st Century.”


What's the story behind your latest book?

I wrote TRANS/gressive because I started thinking about someone doing the first “inside story” book about the launch of modern transgender rights. Then I realized it we were all getting older and no one had written it, so it might be the last book about the launch of modern transgender rights. 

What motivated you to become an indie author?

Wonderful publishers like Lori at Riverdale Avenue Books! People who support you in going new or cutting edge things.


Do you have a muse or a “constant reader”?

My friend Clare Howell, who has been such a godsend. She’s has been my own “personal editor” on all my books. She tells me what works and what doesn’t. She’s really been invaluable. 

Describe your writing process

I usually have two or three ideas in the hopper. And one gets my attention and I find myself sitting down in front of it more and more often. 


What is your writing Kryptonite?

Lack of time! My day job is such a time-suck that I can only get an hour here or there. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of writing momentum 40 or 60 minutes at a sitting. So I usually have to just quit work for a few weeks to finally finish a book.  

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What drives you to keep on writing?

I wish I knew. It would give me a little more control over the process. I published three books, then nothing for 15 years. Then three more in a little over a year. You just don’t know where the ideas, the drive, or the passion come from. Or why they leave. 


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Stop censoring yourself. Stop critiquing as you write. Just write for yourself. And hope that something that’s meaningful to you will find an audience somewhere, even if it’s not Gone with the Wind. Books are found by those who need them. 

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