Carmen Maria Machado

American writer

Carmen Maria Machado (born July 3, 1986) is an American short story author, essayist, and critic from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Machado in 2017


  • Lesbian relationships are the fantasy, the ideal — I would say that I think lesbians and queer women perpetrate that that idea. And I think it can be really harmful, because it doesn't permit space for a multitude of experiences, some of which can be bad — not because the relationship is a lesbian relationship, but because somebody in the relationship is not well.
  • People like domestic violence narratives to be very clear cut, and I talk about in the book how on some level I really wished, I wish she had just punched me in the face, and I had this black eye, and I could be like, "Hey, she punched me. I had a black eye. You recognize that, right?" But it was a lot more subtle than that…
  • There’s something so dark and weird about what a cliché it is…And it makes art harder because it’s like how do I turn this thing that operates on cliché — its life blood is the cliché — and create something interesting from this incredibly dead thing? If you say it’s as hot as an oven, your brain skips over the phrase, it’s so worn. And that’s what makes cliché so dangerous. If you say it enough, you lose your ability to engage with it in any kind of critical capacity.
  • Sometimes stories just need something to hold on to, and form is a way of doing that. Sometimes you’re looking at a story and you’re like, What comes next? But if I say I have to add an item to the list, another lover or an episode of SVU…it’s easier.
  • ... I find writing nonfiction difficult; it feels like pulling teeth. It’s technically and logistically challenging and emotionally draining, and the whole time you have one hand behind your back. I admire folks who write good nonfiction so much, because I’ve seen firsthand how hard it is to make it work and work well.
  • I usually start from a concept, an idea, a form, a question, or a (sub)genre. Never a character or a setting. And I don’t write into nothing; I always have somewhere I’m directing my thoughts.
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