Five-Minute Friday: Catherine Elms

Five-Minute Friday: Catherine Elms

Day job: Feminist musician, zinester, and activist. Within this 5-word job description, I do lots of things – I edit UK zine review blog Spill the Zines, edit feminist comp-zine Pandora Press, and write perzine Here. In My Head., I write angry feminist rock music and gig in my local area, I write for various feminist publications, and I’m the media officer of the Swansea Feminist Network.  I’m a generally busy and arty person.

Extra-curricular: In order to fund my creative pursuits, I work as a receptionist. I’m also a Twitter addict.

Favourite book of all time: That’s a difficult one, as it changes so much!  For the longest time, it was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, though I know that’s such an obvious choice.  At a push, I’d say it’s either Crank by Ellen Hopkins, or The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.  I also love reading books about zines – A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution is another favourite book of mine.

Literary pet peeves: Two-dimensional female characters, or female characters who only exist as props or plot points in an otherwise male story.

Guilty pleasure: Skipping pages when reading a fairly boring book. I am unable to stop reading a book once I’ve started (I feel it’s unfair to judge the book fairly until I’ve read the whole thing), so I usually resort to devious methods to finish the book as soon as possible!

Three favourite authors: I see myself as a relatively inexperienced reader, so I’m still exploring authors and genres.  At the moment, I’d say my favourite writers are Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahnuik, and Margaret Atwood.  I also love reading non-fiction; my three favourite writers in that genre are Alain de Botton, Julia Cameron, and Cindy Crabb (who writes an incredible long-running zine called Doris, and has released two anthologies of her zine writing).

Favourite fictional character: Jane Eyre – she was an intelligent woman seeking contentment, with dignity and integrity, and a strong idea of right and wrong.  She also expresses some fairly radical ideas on gender and social class, e.g. she argues in chapter 12 that women shouldn’t be confined “to making pudding and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags”.

Other recommended reading: The Doris Anthology by Cindy Crabb is excellent if you want to get an idea of how good zine writing can be.  Fanzines by Teal Triggs provides a good history of zines, along with some beautiful images of zine covers and inside pages.  Good feminist books worth checking out include The Women’s Room by Marilyn French, Cunt by Inga Muscio, and The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.

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