Roxane Gay: What has the release of Heart Berries been like? What are the best and worst parts of having such a buzzed about book out in the world?
Terese Mailhot: I’ve been working so hard. It feels like an accomplishment—like finishing a degree, or publishing work, or doing something for the right reasons. It feels good as hell. The best parts of a critical success is that I wrote the book according to my own artistic integrity, and people came my way—so, I believe in myself more. I care about my instincts and desires more. It probably shouldn’t work that way, but it feels validating to see people reading my book.
There are a few worst parts of having a book with buzz. The stakes are higher—which is good and bad. What I do matters more now. People want more from me now. Sometimes I read things about myself I don’t like, and I’m always considering what’s worth addressing.
I just want to keep writing. I want to keep working. I have a broader scope now, and I’m smart enough to keep my precision. My career is just that, a career. When before it was just me being an adjunct, getting rejected quite a bit. So, I can’t just sit back and enjoy anything just yet. I have other work to do and I need to do it now, like always.
RG: Do you enjoy touring?
TM: I do until I don’t. I loved being in bookstores and reading. I loved reading at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, and I loved being with Indigenous students at Stanford, and I love the Pacific Northwest. I stayed in a Four Seasons for the first time, and my brother and I just kind of marveled at the TV in the bathroom. I sound like a yokel, but for real. It’s just an amazing thing to travel and see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. It’s an amazing thing to do interviews for writing something.
And then my kids need me and I have work at Purdue and IAIA. I also have to write. I have learned how to write on planes, and in hotels, and Counterpoint is really good about organizing my life, but the kid thing and the two other jobs thing—I can’t drop any balls, so it can feel impossible on a bad day.
@oursharedshelf #Terese #Mailhot