It was a good year for Catie Disabato, to say the least! Her debut novel, The Ghost Network (read it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound), about a vanishing pop star and a secret underground sect that may be hiding her away, was published by Melville House (and received a glowing review c/o the New York Times). Plus Vin Diesel blessed the world with his singing voice (you’ll see). Catie was kind enough to talk to us about her favorite moments of 2015 and other literary voices we should keep our eyes peeled for.
What was the best thing you read this year? Whether that means a book (new or new to you), a blog piece, an article, a poem, profound bathroom graffiti…
The best thing I read this year was Chelsea Hodson’s chapbook-length essay Pity the Animal, which devastated me (in the good way, you know?) and made me gasp with recognition. The essay made me feel seen, which was personally very important to me emotionally this year.
Your debut novel, The Ghost Network, expertly mixes the pop and the literary, what some people might call “low” and “high” brow. What was your favorite pop culture moment of the year?
Awesome question – I’m definitely of the opinion that our cultural concepts of highbrow vs. lowbrow culture are incredibly flawed and thankfully deteriorating. The highbrow vs. lowbrow designations are built in such a way that they uphold racist, sexist, classist, and elitist conceptions and behaviors. The quicker the designations burn, the happier I am.
I will spare you my 10,000 word essay on why the Fast and Furious franchise is the best superhero franchise out there, whose politics might not be perfect but are certainly more radical than anything we’re getting from the latest superman movie (just one example: two men of color who are very different people, both get tons of screen time, and have scenes together – what other tentpole feature from the last five years has something even close?), but my deep affection for the film series brought me to my favorite pop culture moment of the year: Vin Diesel singing the Tove Lo song “Habits (Stay High)” as a tribute to his fallen cast mate Paul Walker (RIP).
Vin Diesel has a terrible singing voice and loves karaoke and this is a blessing.
Who’s a writer on the rise that you’re thrilled to read more from, and who you think we should glom on to ASAP?
Zan Romanoff! Her debut novel, A Song to Take the World Apart, is coming out from Knopf next fall. Full disclosure, Zan is a friend of mine, but someone who became a friend partially because her writing is so fantastic. I’m dying to read her novel, I can’t wait.
What advice do you have for other aspiring novelists?
Writing a novel is often a marathon, the entire route of which takes place in Swamps of Sadness. At a certain point, this slog can feel like too much and there may be internal forces pushing you to finish your work too quickly just so you can get out of the brutal parts. My advice is to gather as much strength as possible to keep yourself from rushing to the end. Resist the feeling that the work you’ve put in is “good enough” or that you are too tired to do more, do better. If your novel gets the amount of time from you that it needs, no matter how much you’re suffering, and you will be happier with your novel at the end.