So who is this Christiane person, anyway?
So here I am, talking to you like we’ve just run into each other in the halls at a con, or waiting in line to get into a show, or wherever you might see me and feel bored enough to ask a bunch of questions about who I am and what makes me the person I am. Why? [Why not!]
I’ve got a Bio page, but that’s just got the “writer” stuff on it, and I’m a big believer in connection as a full contact sport. No, not like football, more like jumping into the pit at a punk show.
So that’s a great place to start, actually – I DO NOT do sports. I always say: if you see me running, then you should run, too, because something is definitely chasing me! However, I not only love dancing with every fiber of my being, I actually minored in Dance in college. [Theater major, because I am obviously into things just for the money, right?]
I’ve talked at length about how I got into being involved with the Goth/Industrial/Electronica subgenres and built myself a small career as a DJ and promoter for a while that way, so I won’t go through the whole story now. But you need to know that my direct progression involved music and dance in school > discovering the joy of going to punk shows and the freedom of everything it brought > finding alternative dance nights at clubs that gave me the confidence to really pursue the things that give me joy.
I’ve always loved writing, music, and performance. For someone who spent a great deal of time in her own head while growing up, I managed to still excel at being dramatic – to the point where I knew that I wanted a public-facing job when I grew up. I played at being a radio DJ, introducing the 45s I’d play for myself as I recorded my own mixtapes, learning bits of trivia about the bands I liked to “reveal” to the audience. I also made my own dramas and musicals, did my own costuming, and wrote my own scripts, all to be performed by and for myself in my room. [I liked sheets for sweeping togas, capes, and skirts.] And I dreamed about fronting a band, and probably shook the house at inappropriate hours while practicing my vocal stylings. Come to think of it, I still do.
So falling into Theater was obvious, and I pursued that and music and dance, and found myself more and more frustrated as I ran against what I was expected to be, rather than what I am.
Punk was the antidote.
When I discovered punk, I learned that there was a world where it was a lot easier to be who and what I wanted to be. There was still pushback to some degree and plenty of -isms, but the culture was set up in a way that gave me more freedom to speak out against them, and show anger in general. In the 80s, it was still tough to be an angry woman, an individual, a rule-breaker, and not be penalized in every aspect of life. Punk mostly didn’t care. I thrived in that scene, and I grew comfortable in my own skin.
That led me to finding more Post-Punk and Alternative music and going to clubs that played those genres, too. Suddenly, I was at a show or a club every week, absorbing even more music and being exposed to a wide variety of culture and art, and I loved it all. My outfits got more dramatic, slowly verging into a decidedly Goth aesthetic, which then blended with my everyday look forever. Seriously, I’m still basically wearing the same stuff, just the more casual versions. Long black skirt and band tee, with a hoodie or cardigan and Docs? Yep, that’s me.
And that phase, my friends, shaped everything else in my life. I found the people who appreciated my aesthetic, my words, and eventually the music I wanted to make. I started publishing ‘zines and contributing to others, and I became a small time club DJ around the East Coast of the US, centered in VA/DC/MD.
A lot of In Sleep You Know, my upcoming novel [and the world in where it lives], is fueled by these experiences. It references clubs I went to regularly, music I love, and the subcultures of which I’m a part. It also reflects the wonder I felt when I started coming to the city and discovered a place where I belonged, and all the magic and weirdness I learned to see and accept without question. Merrick Moore, the main character, is in many ways who I was when I first roosted in Baltimore City: a aimless dreamer accepting of the beautiful and odd people randomly met along the way. Someone game to roll with strange happenings, because deep in our heart, that was we always hoped to find.
In the harshness of daylight, we might have a harder time buying into the weirdness than we did under cover of night. But those experiences changed me, shaped and reinforced my sense of whimsy and wonder and possibility, and gave me a lot of fodder for the things I write about now! And soon, you’ll get to see how they shape Merrick, too. *
If you like reading true tales of my strange adventures that are 100% unvarnished and often ridiculous, let me know. I have so many shareable snippets! Not everything is going to make it into my books, right?
* NotASpoiler: it’s a bit different than how things went down for me.
ps: Post Title is a snippet of song lyric from “Baby Doll” by Ruin, a Philly punk band that meant a lot to me back in the day.