Name: Allison Epstein
Location: Berwyn, Illinois (Western suburb of Chicago for out-of-staters)
Junior business-to-business marketing copywriter by day, managing editor at Adios Barbie by night. I write and edit articles about everything from eating disorders to rape culture to systemic racism. At my day job, I write copy about products you didn’t know existed for trade magazines you also didn’t know existed. (Ask me anything about galvanized steel conduit. No, go ahead, ask.)
Where did you come from?
Lansing, Michigan, home of several now-defunct General Motors plants, the state capital, and, at one point, Malcolm X.
A Fear: Settling. Choosing comfort over working for what intimidates and inspires me, professionally and personally. Also bats. Slit-nosed leather-winged furry demons. Nothankyou.
A Goal: Pay the bills by writing fiction. It can be one short story I sell for $20 to pay my electric bill with. I’m not picky.
A Memory: In the summer of 2013, I was studying abroad in Northern Ireland when my grandmother passed away from Parkinson’s disease. I couldn’t make it back in time for the funeral, but I traveled to the Antrim coast along the north of the island, and spent the day of the service on a cliff above the blue-green sea, watching the waves roll past and listening to seals barking on the rocks below. I don’t know what I believe about this life and anything after, but I’ve never felt more connected to the universe and whatever’s beyond it.
A Mistake: Backing out of opportunities from fear of what people will think of me. It’s an ongoing mistake, and one I’m working daily to correct.
A Hero: My parents and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
A Fault: You haven’t seen Type A until you see how I do Type A. My work-life balance is a hot mess, and I’ve always demanded more of myself than I can deliver. Someday I’ll be able to fall asleep with unanswered emails still in my inbox. Until then, I will lull myself into a false sense of security with lists, spreadsheets, and a flawlessly alphabetized bookshelf.
A Talent: I have a Shakespeare reference ready for almost any occasion. The number of friends and family members I’ve convinced to read / watch / attend a performance of King Lear is frankly alarming. I’m not sure if this is a talent or a nuisance.
A Prized Possession: My library of notebooks. I write longhand whenever I can, and haven’t thrown away a book since 2007. Everything before then is too embarrassing to be read, anyway.
A Need: Solitude. As an introvert, I’m like old film: For anything to turn out OK, sometimes I need to be alone in a dark room for a while.
I want More: Compassion. Locally and globally, for people we know and understand and for people we don’t.
I want Less: Coldplay.
What would you change about the world?
I want to get rid of the connection between food, our bodies, and our worth. There’s so much morality tied up in these issues when there just doesn’t need to be. There is nothing good or bad about food or bodies — they are what they are. The way you treat someone, whether or not you tip your servers, how you vote on social issues, how you support friends in need, there’s morality in that. In our thighs? If we could stop this culturally sanctioned long con, I’d be over the moon.
What do you love about yourself?
My writing voice. Whether anyone but my family, friends, or workshop group reads my work is beside the point (although if you’re searching for a novelist-for-hire, hit me up…). I’m closer emotionally to the main character of my novel-in-eternal-progress than I am to most people. He just understands me.