Monday, June 23, 2014

Featured Author: Janet Mock

JANET MOCK is a writer, advocate and New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. In 2012, she launched #GirlsLikeUs, a movement that encourages trans women to live visibly. She was featured in the HBO documentary The Out List and has appeared on The Colbert Report, and Melissa Harris-Perry. Her commentary has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, Feministing, NPR, The Atlantic and more. A native of Honolulu, Janet lives and writes in New York City.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

Redefining Realness is about a trans girl's journey to live her truth -- no matter what. I aimed to tell a deeply personal story, in which I contextualized those personal experiences in a political framework with a commitment to accessibility so readers who may not know anything about gender, racial, LGBTQ or intersecting issues would leave with deeper insight about the quest we are all on to reveal our most authentic selves to the world.

What did you learn about yourself in terms of your strong points and weak points while writing this book?

I learned that I am unflinching when it comes to truthtelling. Maybe that level of searing transparency scares some -- but it only encouraged me as I wrote, enabling me to unpack and transform my most painful experiences and find the power in them, and hopefully resonance for other writers. My weak points? The editor in me. Having worked as an editor at, it was difficult for me to achieve a flow in my writing because I was so trained to edit as I write. I combatted this by completing my first drafts in a notebook rather than a laptop.

What was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

My greatest roadblock was shattering the silence that I believed would protect me and enable me to survive. Transforming that silence by writing stories to myself (initially through journaling) enabled me to free myself from silence and speak truth to power about my experiences. That has healed me more than anything as a writer and as a person.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do: Tell the truth and write often.

Don't: Do not lie on the page.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writing is a craft, and a writer must take the time and space to develop that craft, to sharpen their skills. And often, if something reads as effortless, it took that writer a lot of work to make it seamless.

What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

I set up boundaries in all aspects of my life. I am exacting about my needs. I surround myself with loving, affirming people who are invested in my happiness and success.

How can readers get in contact with you?

@JanetMock on Twitter and Facebook

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, & So Much More

Genre of Book: memoir

Welcomed into the world as her parents’ firstborn son, Mock decided early on that she would be her own person—no matter what. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving yet ill-equipped family that lacked the money, education, and resources necessary to help her thrive. Mock navigated her way through her teen years without parental guidance, but luckily, with the support of a few close friends and mentors, she emerged much stronger, ready to take on—and maybe even change—the world.

This powerful memoir follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.

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