Even though I quit writing fiction, I didn’t stop writing entirely. Instead, I switched back to the short form, only this time to essays and articles rather than short stories. I wrote about art, film, celebrity, sexuality, and identity–topics that didn’t really fit into my fiction, anyway.
And then, much like with Lovergirl, one of those essays became a book.
I had studied Cindy Sherman and her photographs at length as an undergraduate, so it seemed logical to focus on her film Office Killer while in graduate school. It was a way of doing something familiar while also doing something entirely new.
I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the fact that, despite the piles of articles, reviews, and books on Sherman’s photographs, there was a wasteland when it came to writing about her film. It was as if everyone had agreed not to mention it.
For the same reason that I had been drawn to the sex industry, I was now drawn to Office Killer. I was fascinated with it precisely for its overtly difficult and complex nature, for whatever it was about it that rendered it an unwelcome guest at the art world’s dinner table.
Despite the fact that my paper on Office Killer was already twice the length it needed to be, I felt like there was more I had to say, and the lack of available conversation made me all the more determined to put my analysis into the public sphere.
Five years went by with me adding a chapter here and a chapter there, searching for an academic publisher (no agent required, thank god) who would believe in my project. For someone as heavily published as Sherman, it was surprisingly difficult to get anyone interested in a book about her movie.
I had almost given up, merely sending out query letters every six months or so, when I felt motivated to try again, until, much to my surprise, I finally found a publisher, courtesy of Intellect Books and the University of Chicago Press.
Another Kind of Monster: Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer will be out on February 14, 2014, a remarkably appropriate date for what has been a labor of love.