An Interview with Christine About Her Memoir Writing Journey So Far
NAMW: Tell us what you want to write about, or what you are working on.
Christine: I’m currently working on a memoir about my life as an exotic dancer in my hometown of Waikiki from 1987 to 1996.
Most people think of coconuts and surfboards when thinking of Hawaii. My book takes you past the palm trees, behind the paradise curtain to a grittier type of lifestyle full of drugs, sex and tons of rock and roll. Also, I have a sense humor about my story so there are tongue-in-cheek moments weaved throughout the pages, which provide a delicate balance of comedy in the face of adversity.
The common thread of my manuscript is how far people will go to find their self-worth, and that feeling beautiful really does come from within. Although I went to extremes, what I took from my experiences and discoveries are universal.
NAMW: If you could imagine the title of your story—what would it be?
Christine: I obsessed for months about the title of my manuscript and finally came up with Pour Some Sugar On Me: Tales from an Ex-Stripper. The title came about when I was driving my car one afternoon and heard a familiar song on the radio. The music transported me instantly. I turned up the volume and sang my heart out in traffic. People next to me on the road must have thought I was completely insane, which I embraced fully with every air guitar and fist pump maneuver from the driver’s seat. I knew anything that struck such a chord (pardon the pun) would be a great title for the book.
NAMW: What helps you to get your writing done—for instance—a writing schedule, taking a class, reading?
Christine: I work full-time, so weekends and evenings are prime real estate for my butt to be planted at my writing desk.
I attended my first writer’s conference last month and found the environment and teachings invaluable. Conference calls, such as the ones NAMW provides have proven to be motivating and thought provoking and I always feel really pumped up after a call.
When I feel blocked, I don’t fight it. I take a step back, pick up a memoir and start reading. Losing myself in someone else’s story always helps me find a way back to mine. I find myself thinking: wow, they really have a story – wait a minute, so do I – and I start typing again.
NAMW: What are your five favorite books—okay, you can make it a little longer if you need to.
Christine: I know you will find this shocking, but I love a great memoir. Given my history, I am drawn to personal stories of triumph in the shadows of addiction and family dysfunction. Add to that my adoration for self-deprecating humor and sarcasm and you have a Carrie Fisher fan through and through. Wishful Drinking is one of my favorites, and I was thrilled to learn this memoir will soon be the basis for an HBO television special.
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman had me flipping back to the first page as soon as I reached the end. This is a book that greeted me by surprise like a set of finger-laced hands whispering from behind saying, “Guess who?” Reading this story was a true, poetic experience.
Another book that resonates with me is Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. There were so many “me too” moments when reading, it was hard to put down. Here is a woman who knows the road to self-worth and possesses the type of writing talent that leaves me in awe.
Running With Scissors (Augusten Burroughs) is another book that really spoke to me. Learning of this survival story helped me see that even the most bizarre childhoods can be overcome. Augusten’s ability to paint vivid scenes with his words intimidates and inspires me to the point of reckless writing abandon. I find my best scene-structure is born from attending The School of Augusten.
My list would not be complete without mentioning Don’t Call Me Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother-Daughter Abandonment by Linda Joy Myers. I learned so much about myself through reading her story. I recommend this book to anyone in search of a memoir that is not only heartfelt, but moves you to the point of tears. Tears traveled down the curve of my lip; a subconscious smile in knowing it is indeed possible to survive personal abandonment.
NAMW: Is there anyone who does not want you to write your memoir? Why not?
Christine: I wouldn’t say she doesn’t want me to write my story, but I don’t think my mother understands my need to share it. She would much rather I move on from my past without ever looking back. I try and explain to her that in order to do this, I must revisit the wounds to finally heal them without the use of drugs or stripping. The beauty of my story is how far I have come since my stripping years. I hope anyone reading my book, who thinks they are stuck in a similar world, will find that inner-voice inside them like I did.
NAMW: Talk about who the audience is for your memoir. Be brief and concise.
Christine: Anyone who has ever felt marginalized by circumstance, struggled with feeling less-than, has a taste for the wild side, sexual adventure, or is simply curious about life as a stripper is the ideal audience for my memoir.
NAMW: What is the most significant turning point in your life?
Christine: I write about this in my book. The second I stepped on the plane and moved off the island is by far the most significant point in my 41 years. I started over with very little money, two suitcases and a dream of a normal life. It sounds simple and a bit corny, but when you think about happiness and peace of mind, isn’t that what we all aim for?
Although raised on the island of O’ahu, Christine Macdonald’s childhood was far from a tropical paradise. At age 13, sexual abuse left her emotionally scarred and she turned to drugs and alcohol. A year later she was diagnosed with Grade IV Nodulocystic Acne Vulgaris, a very severe skin disease consisting of inflammatory lesions and deep seated cysts. Most of her face, chest and back were infected and she would go on to have several surgeries on her face to remedy the scarring. Following her first procedure at just 16, Christine began to abuse the narcotic Demerol, in addition to other substances.
As a way to feel validated, Macdonald began stripping at age 19. For the next nine and a half years, the world of drugs and exotic dancing provided the escapism she so desperately sought.
Today at 41, Christine is ready to share her story. Her articles have earned cover spots and editor’s picks on Open Salon and she has been featured and recognized as a rising author on the popular publishing site Scribd.
As a blogger Macdonald showcases her sharp wit and humor writing about various topics from self worth issues to equal rights, addition to candidly sharing her personal history of drug abuse and most recent cancer battle.
Upon completion of her memoir, she plans on launching Another Way To Say It Greetings, a greeting card project she founded specifically for her friends of the GLBT community.
Christine brings her love of the coast to Southern California where she has lived since 1996. She lives with her boyfriend, Kevin Weber and remains cancer free.
Find Christine Online:
Facebook: Christine Macdonald Facebook
Great interview. I can’t wait to read this memoir!
Christine, The way you sculpture your feelings in this interview leaves me wanting more. Though I’m a generation further along than you, I can identify with the universals you present, the search for our essential inner self, the temptations along the way, encountering the primative in paradise, incorporating a sense of humor. Thanks for catching after-work time to write. Thanks for reminding me I can pick up a memoir when I feel I have nothing to say. With members of NAMW who inspire as your interview does, we have a valuable, resourceful community. Linda Lacey Missouri