Now, Gabby, tell us about your new release, The Teacher’s Strike.
Well, it’s a “spanking novel” that tells the story of a student and teacher’s elicit romance, set in the back drop of the historic 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike. It’s a historical fiction and romance with some piquant BDSM flavor.
Can you tell us what you are working on now?


I’m polishing a play; researching for another play; researching for a story that revolves around domestic-based ISIS and Al Qaeda themes that I intend to form into a narrative.


Let’s see… I’m also doing letter-writing for undocumented Palestinian immigrants locked up in detention here in Southern Arizona; organizing letter-writing for my own criminal conviction (along with several other defendants) for our act of opposing—through civil disobedience—the Obama Administration’s cruel “Operation Streamline” program that ruins the lives of undocumented migrants and their families by giving them criminal records and lengthy jail sentences en masse, 70 per day, every day for several years in courts all across the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.


You see, I have an untrained background in journalism; currently I’m still in the throes of a long investigative project looking cases of torture of undocumented migrants by U.S. Border Patrol. I have a couple quick pieces in mind (sometimes those take the longest to do) including media analysis of New York Times uncritical reporting of Israeli military policy concerning Southern Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. As well as a children’s book review of recent 2015 Caldecott Medal honors.


So, there you have it. I tend to work on several projects at a time. I’m still not sure if that’s a detriment or advantage to my personal creative ambition. So I’ll just say, it is what it is.
Are you in a Domestic Discipline relationship?

No. I’m not into spanking or BDSM in my personal life, if you can believe it. So, from the beginning, it was a creative challenge for me to work with, and insert, spanking themes. And to create and write from the viewpoints of characters who are into spanking to some extent, whether they know it or not as the narrative proceeds.


I’m not without some ounces of kink, mind you. I will admit to a desire to be choked in bed. Now, I don’t mean asphyxia—I don’t like my breathing to be hampered or restricted in any way. Just some firm amounts of pressure on or around my neck during spats of rough or soft sex. For me, the neck is one of the most erotic areas of the body. And being choked this way fills me with intense, pulsating waves of joy.


I also enjoy suckling on nipples, twiddling them with my tongue. Almost every sexual partner I’ve been with has gotten to request it as a favorite in bed, which has, I suppose, encouraged me to develop a liking for it.


How much of your book comes from real incidences?
Well, the entire sub-plot, which deals with political upheaval in the form of a city-wide teachers strike, is based on actual events. I, of course, take some license with the facts in terms of linear chronology and which scenarios I focus on in the narrative, as well as other details.


As for the romance, that’s mine entirely. Some incidents are real and some characters have aspects of one or more people I’ve known in my life; others are contrived for narrative’s sake.


And are you like your Heroine at all?


Yes, in some ways. Clair is someone who is fiercely independent and critical; she’s ambitious and driven in her passionate work life while she sublimates that energy into a desire for a love life that doesn’t always measure up. And like me, she also houses and hides some very vulnerable sides. Those are just some ways we’re alike.


Where do you find inspiration for your stories? 


You know, some friends have asked me that. I tell them, without modesty, that it’s a mix. There are some things about Clair that are just like me. And there are other things that are not. Same with the narrator, Telly.



When you write, do you ever model any characters after actual people?

I do, yes. I’m especially drawn to fascinating, complex characters with contradictory moral and social ambitions and drives.

In the case of this book, particularly in the sub-plot, there are characters based on real people in real scenarios. I changed their names for privacy. Except the mayor, who is referred to as Mayor 1 Percent, just as Rahm Emanuel is known as.


Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?


There’s no message that I’m aware of. I always liked Mark Twain’s notice to readers that he posted, as if bolted with a hammer, to the opening pages of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:


“PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”


There are radical labor movement themes

Do you have any advice for other writers?


Yeah. Write, write, write; read, read, read; and write, write, write. Genius overcomes all obstacles. But I don’t want to mix up “genius” with talent, or even intelligence. I think both talent and intelligence are overrated. What matters, in the end, is labor, craft, improvisation, creativity, determination. That’s what gets shit done.


Some particular lines from Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde has haunted me my whole life: “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst; the last is a real tragedy!”


All through the process of writing you’ll be your own worst enemy, and that’s real.


I watched the movie Tomorrowland recently. Many parts were ridiculous and ludicrous (makes sense, right? It’s a baby movie—that is, a movie made for babies), but there was an unforgettable, touching line in the dialogue between the hero, Casey, and her father who doubts his ability and his future in his chosen profession. She quotes to him an allegory that he used to say to her as a child, about a vicious quarrel between two wolves: one wolf is light and full of hope; the other wolf is dark and full of despair. Casey asks him which one wins. As she exits the room, leaving him to poignantly remember his own answer, demonstrating how much she learned from him, she rhetorically turns around and answers: “Whichever one you feed.”


And of course, everyone always wants to know- what do you like to do when you’re not writing?


I like to bike-ride and watch movies; I volunteer at an independent movie theatre and in a humanitarian organization that focuses in migrant advocacy and ending death and suffering in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands; I also work groups that advocate ethnic studies and Palestinian solidarity.

How about this one- What is your favorite love story? (movie or book)


Recently I saw The Silver Linings Playbook, and loved it. I also adore Amanda Filipacci’s new book, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty. I enjoy any story where love is portrayed as being fucked up, exhilarating, messy, touching, unpredictable, because I find all that intensely relatable. Bob Dylan’s song, “Simple Twist of Fate,” is one of the most beautiful love stories ever written, I think.

But I also cherish the value of happiness within love stories. I think of the old song, “Dream a Little Dream of Me”—vivid images of an adoring love:

“Stars shining bright above you,

Night breezes seem to whisper, ‘I love you’;

Birds singing in the sycamore trees—

Dream a little dream of me.

Say nighty-night and kiss me,

Just hold me tight and tell me you miss me…”

I’ve had loves like that. It’s a immeasurably joyous and thrilling.


The Teacher’s Strike by Gabby Mathews


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