Life is Sweet|
Lucy Sweet, songstress, author, artiste and all round bint about town, tells all
So you began life in Hull and ended up in Glasgow via Newcastle. What kind of journey has that been?
A long one! I only lived in Hull until I was seven but my parents still live there. Iíve been ricocheting around the north of England for years doing various things. I went to Newcastle University and did a fine art course, which I dropped out of, moved back to Manchester (where I went to school), and came to Glasgow in 1995 when I met my husband. After I quit uni I was in a terrible band called the Choppers, went on the dole and drew comics. I got a bit of extra money freelancing for the Melody Maker, doing gig reviews, and eventually got a monthly cartoon in Manchester's City Life. There were also many dark days in retail! I suppose I spent a lot of time drifting around, but I was always doing something creative Ė just not always getting paid for it.
You have been an art student, written an illustrated novel, two books, regular newspaper columns, ran your own webzine, hosted a stitch and bitch afternoon and are a singer/songwriter with a rather eclectic Scottish band, Lucky Luke. Do you feel more like an artist, writer or musician or all three Ė and what are you most proud of?
I donít know what Iím most proud of Ė theyíre all such different things. Writing a novel was a really big deal, and itís something Iíll always be able to say Iíve done to people at bus stops when Iím senile. My first book was a comic book called Unskinny, and I think thatís probably one of the most successful things Iíve done because it was completely sincere, without any end goal in mind Ė it was just a self-published comic I did for my friends which grew into something bigger and was made into a book. My husband was also a fan of it and sent me letters, which is how I met him, so I did OK out of that! At the moment, though, Iím really proud of Lucky Luke. But Iíve no idea how to categorize what I do Ė Iíve always just had ideas and acted on them. Occasionally I feel a bit lost and have an identity crisis, and wonder whether I should go out and get a proper job, but that feeling never lasts long Ė thank God.
What's the best thing that's ever been said about you in a review? And the worst?
Iíd like to pretend that Iím above caring, but of course Iím not. The Guardian once said I was Ďmad, bad and dangerously funny.í But there seem to be a lot of bitter, ultra-critical wankers on websites and messageboards these days, bitching about stuff but not having the courage to get off their arses and do anything themselves.
You frequently claim to love boys - how does that fit into your life now you're married?
Ah, boysÖwell, my husband knows I wouldnít run off with them Ė itís more of a visual pleasure, like looking at a painting! I think itís better to be open about who youíre attracted to. But Iím a very faithful wife, and my love of boys isnít an icky sex thing. Itís all celebrity crushes and swooning and stupid crap like that. Iíve been doing it since I first saw John Taylor in 1983, and Iíll be damned if Iím stopping now!
Chick lit and 'women's interest' sections in newspapers are often treated scathingly by both men and women - why do you think that is?
As far as chick lit goes, there are a lot of authors who are really witty and sharp and get dismissed because of the way the books are packaged. Thereís this pastel coloured gloop that engulfs the genre and in my opinion it doesnít help female authors to distinguish themselves. And then thereís the phrase Ďchick lití, which I hate. Itís a sexist concept. But Iím a writer, and chick lit and womenís interest is where funny, female-orientated comment naturally ends up fitting into the world at the moment, and in the end, Iíd rather have people read my stuff than not at all, even if it has a pink cover.
As for womenís interest, I donít think thereís anything wrong with it at all. Is a column about shoes any more inane than a column about cars? No. But thereís still a disturbing amount of people who take great delight in labeling women as stupid, because they want to read about love, or they like shopping or whatever. Itís a deeply ingrained fear of femininity, I think. And more and more women are joining in that prejudice and sexism, which goes to show that weíre still slaves to societyís expectations and weíre very insecure about how weíre perceived.
Who reads Lucy Sweet novels? Who would you like to read your novels?
God knows! Itís too early to tell. I think the nature of chick lit is to get as many books on the shelves to be snapped up as quickly as possible, and then they circulate among readers. If youíre lucky, people will warm to you, and youíll get a following. Hopefully Iíll get a chance to build up a readership. I would like my readers to pick up my books and sense thereís something a bit edgier about them than the usual stuff. Theyíre aimed, I suppose, at students, teenagers and twentysomething girls, but I would really like men to read them too, which is probably a bit much to ask really. I like to take the formulaic chick lit/ romance stuff and do something a bit different with it. Theyíre funny, too!
Tell us a bit about your bandÖ
Well, the band was started by Simon, who plays guitar, and Morag, who plays the harmonium, [a wooden squeezy box on the floor] in the late nineties, and they recruited me in 2003. Since then weíve toured with Teenage Fanclub, supported Belle and Sebastian, and played at SXSW and in New York. Weíre recording another album in May, which as far as songwriting duties go, has about five of Simonís songs on it, three of mine and two beautiful ones from Morag. Iím really excited about it.
Where would your fantasy gig be and who would be supporting you?
Weíve already played quite a lot of venues which we once thought would be in the realm of fantasy when we went on tour last year. But my favourites, sad though it may seem, have always been Sleazyís or Stereo [beloved Glasgow dives]!! Still, Iíd be very happy to play All Tomorrowís Parties, or Glastonbury, or Bencassim in Spain Ė they have a pool backstage, apparently. Who would support us? The White Stripes. Then Iíd drag Jack onstage to do a duet and er, examine his technique.
And finally, how do you feel about the word bint?
I love it. Itís very Monty Python. There must have been a sketch where they used the word because whenever I hear it, I think of Terry Jones in a dress. Actually, I got into trouble for saying it when I was little Ė my mum bollocked me.
|"There are a lot of bitter, ultra-critical wankers on websites and messageboards these days, bitching about stuff but not having the courage to get off their arses and do anything themselves"