Dear Angela,

Chelsea G Summers, A Certain Hunger

Chelsea G Summers, A Certain Hunger

Where to begin but with a story. More than a decade ago — before I got paid for my writing, before I started writing my novel, before I had the great good cheek to call myself “writer” — I dressed as Fevvers, your high-flying, deep-bosomed protagonist of Nights at the Circus. The Rumpus, an indie literary website that was big about a decade ago, decided to make a “Women of Literature” 2010 calendar. I had written a book review or something for them, and I leapt at the chance to be a part of the project.

To embody Fevvers, I had to make myself a pair of glorious wings. I hauled myself to the craft store, bought hundreds of dollars of red, purple, indigo and black feathers, and painstakingly glued each individual feather to their thick cardboard frames. It took days. My fingers grew stained with dye and caked with glue from the hot glue gun. But such was my devotion to Fevvers, that turn-of-the-century charlatan freak of nature who swigged champagne from the bottle, flew from the rafters, seduced with abandon, escaped capture, and lived to tell the tale.

I fiercely love Fevvers. I passionately love all your female characters: the hapless and hopeful virgin who weds the brooding and bloody Marquis (and her mother the crack shot), the brash and sanguine wench who finds joy between the wolf’s paws, the slyly feral maiden who reveals her true tiger’s flesh, the spangly and joyous Dora and Nora Chance. Your female characters are free to make mistakes, to discover eldritch pleasures, to embark on bold adventures, and to find their own endings, ambiguous as they may be. They exist to remind us of wonder and danger — and to enjoy the sensual confusion of these two states.

Here’s the thing. I worship your prose. Your glorious, purple, dripping, delirious prose. Your sentences that swoop and soar, that dive and divulge, that loop themselves with exquisite excess. Your cacophonous syntax that clangs with earthy vulgarities slamming against celestial polysyllabic lexemes. Your fearless, lascivious, and baroque prose that weds the delicate with the bloody stands as a model for my own. If I could hug your sentences — your embodied, prickly, sticky sentences — I would.

So thank you for thinking and writing. Thank you for ditching your pedestrian first marriage for a life of adventure and words. Thank you for risking your relationships, your finances, and your reputation. Thank you for inventing your own brand of glam rock feminism, one where you neither apologized for nor abjured your desires. Thank you for marrying a younger, blue-collar man (because, yeah, I did that too). And thank you for creating stories about chicks who eat, fuck, scratch, shoot, dance, and fly.

We all need magic in our lives, and I am forever grateful to have been blessed by yours.

Hugs and kisses,

Chelsea G. Summers