The inspiration for all of my work, and especially so with Addictarium, is two main things; one, first and foremost to tell the truth. Uncover reality. Burst bubbles. Dissolve delusions. And, two–to turn my life into a work of art. No matter how sloppy or messy, or horrid, or plain out awful some of these things may seem like to other people, to me they are all part of the experience we call life–the experience–the gift, the hell also,–that it is. This is a way to turn my work into a reflection of that. I’m a street kid, an impoverished wild child at heart, and always will be in certain ways. No refinemnent, no education, is going to negate that. So what does the street kid have? There isn’t college tuition, no mapped out future, no knowing one’s place in the world. All we have left then, are scraps of experiences crumpled up, torn, ripped, beat up–our souls–and, baring those souls to the world. Artistically. Creatively. That is what an artist is–a CREATOR. We re-create the world. Provide a new and different angle, vision, an abstraction–a translation, if you will–of what we call LIFE. Living. The World.
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What inspired you to pen your memoir, Addictarium?
I have read so many recovery & addiction memoirs–and every one ends exactly the same. There’s the 30 – 90 days of rehabilitating, the flashbacks to the highs that brought them there, then the part where the rehabilitation happens. They go into a “pink cloud” era–and that’s it right there–no matter what, that’s sure to end. And, it does end. I wanted to touch on a different rehab process. A much more REAL one. What life is really like the first year sober, and then after the pink cloud dissipates, what is left. I also wanted to highlight the differences between private rehabs, and government funded “therapeutic communities,” which are intensive in-pateint therapy facilities. You spend one part (roughly 6 mos.-1 yr.) in a boot-campish phase, rebuilding some type of “value” system, or moral compass, or at very least a little bit of discipline. Then you are rotated down to a phase 2 facility, which closer resembles a homeless shelter or mental ward, and it’s almost impossible not to get tied up in drama in that type of atmosphere.
It was important for me also, to discuss the one thing people forget is so relevent: human relations and how addicts have so many struggles with this very thing. Why addicts most likely use in the first place–not feeling loved, being loved, or accepted (and acceptance is like the cousin of love). There are all these dysfunctional relationships we as addicts, recklessly plunge ourselves into, just so we aren’t alone. These were some of issues I wanted to bring to light with this book.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Of course. Every writer wants this–to deliver a message. The message is; don’t think that rehab is some miracle working kingdom that you can fly off into, every time you screw things up. Being an addict is about the personality–not the chemical of choice. It’s about compulsive behaviors we develop in our first few years of life, and why certain people’s “addiction” switch has been turned on and other peoples’ haven’t. I want readers to comprehend that if you attempt to kick heroin, that no; you might not be fine right away. You might still hate life, want to die. It’s a huge fight, a infinite battle and you’d better be ready to FIGHT.
Another message was a bit more for the feminist–we as women are judged harsher when it comes to things like this. We, as women, are allowed to make mistakes too, though. Use drugs. Make poor choices in order to get them. The protagonist, Danielle, is fearless sometimes, and fragile others. She’s human–just like the rest of us.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The obvious, I think–exploiting my pain. Reliving degrading & humiliating experiences all for the sake of art. But, I’d die for art. Do anything for it. Bleed, steal & starve. I already have.
It was also hard omitting any mention of my entire family, and pretty much everyone else I love. I did it for the sake of their privacy, and also because I caricature. It’s hard to caricuture loved ones. Even when they might, in some way, deserve it. I’m a loyal woman in that regard.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned that I can really be an artist, a visionary, quite honestly. I connected with the innovators from the past, pushing boundaries, being uncut and real and raw, candid, frank. I believe it’s the only way to truly create–art is about perspective, but also honesty. A person’s soul should be attached to their work. I am what I’ve tagged myself–and some others–a hyper-creative, and we are a dying breed. Writing is art, and art is a way of life. Few approach it this way anymore. Commercial success makes me yawn. I don’t want millions. I just want to be great.
What draws you to a genre?
Literary Fiction is the road to true artistry. Their is honesty that comes with that. It’s all about being real. That’s what I love. It doesn’t have to always be fantastical and incredible, sometimes it’s the subtle things that create magic. Sometimes it’s the raw, base descriptions of people, experiences, events!
Your book is a basket of themes! one of the backdrops is a love story between you and ‘Angel,’ — how do you define love?
Which love, what type? There are so many branches to the idea of love, it’s a large large tree with constant change. It changes as it ages, it revinvents itself, there are deep roots that are uncovered, constantly…
So, what love, which type? Hysterical love that transforms into inevitable betrayal? Acceptance? Attention? Affection? Loneliness, ache, human desperation? Toxic love, healthy love, hormonally charged love known better as lust? Idealistic love, fantasy, devotion, obsession, fixation, control? Love of thyself, better known as narcissistic pursuit? Conceptual love? Tender love? Worst of all–CHILD love?
Love is not definable because love is never one singular thing. Love is emotion. Most loves, romantically, are hormonally charged concepts that dissolve eventually, and when the smoke clears you’d better have a friend too, because love always always disintegrates passionately, becoming nothing more than a fading, flickering flame in the wind, and what is ultimately a barely-there symbol of what was.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
Danielle is so many parts myself, I’d have a hard time picking somebody. I am a constantly changing, evolving human. I have so many personalities.
However, if I had to pick, I think ‘Danielle’ would be played well by Jennifer Lawrence.
Why do you write?
I write to free myself of the insanity that floods my brain daily. Writing helps to unravel all of that scar tissue, so I can move forward and be pro-active. Without it, I’d be a lost soul, floating around aimlessly. It’s like a wife or husband, a rock to me. It keeps me whole, complete, sane.
it’s ironic; writing about my insanity is thevery thing that grounds me, and keeps me on an even keel, therefore making me feel sane.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
Addictarium was written during my stay in the long-term recovery program. While shooting heroin, in south florida, a bad batch caused a fungal infection in my eye, the only place willing to assist me medically immediately, without insurance, was NYC. I was shipped to Bellevue Hosiptal in Manttan, dope sick, and then after a week or two of work (procedures and multiple surgeries) on my eye, they entered me into Daytop Village. I never even heard of in-patient programs THAT long-term. A therapeutic community was a foreign idea to me. But, once they offered it, immediately I knew I needed it, so I obliged.
The thing I didn’t expect was after my 9-month phase in Rhinebeck, upstate, to be thrown into the re-entry unit in Queens, NY; where all the real chaos errupted. I didn’t think getting clean was a cake-walk, but remaning sober all nine months, I WAS proud. When I entered the re-entry unit, it was this insane house of broken beings, seemingly, left to float in a direction-less manner. Some of them had lived there five years! I realized it was a homeless shelter, mental-ward, and rehab all rolled into one. Toss in the jail-like mentality and etiquette, and you have a mad house! How I acclimated–I was so different from everyone else–was shocking, even to me. A friend of mine once declared me “the most popular person in daytop,” and I was baffled. I had no intentions of becoming what society would likely label some bizarre “home-coming queen degenerate,” but it is what it is. I made a lot of important relationships in that time period.
Plus, the explosive romance that occurred with “Angel” was a story in itself. I knew the moment we started engaging we were creating magic, and we did. We have. It was too beautiful, too taboo, NOT to write about.
This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
I have huge plans for The War Stories Chornicles. I outlined eleven books in total I plan to design in this series, starting with Addictarium’s prequel – NARCOTARY: Chemical Warfare.
Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
The cover reflects the protagonist–Danielle–who in so many ways, is me. I was dark and ominous, I was bold–fashionably speaking. I wore the outfits people wouldn’t dare wear. I did the things people only talked about doing, in their wildest fantasies. I was a bad ass. A hot shot. Yet, really, deep inside? I was a girl who was dying. The cover exemplifies Danielle’s fear of imprisonment–not just from the place, or even jail–but from life, from sobriety, from drugs. From everything and everybody. Every relationship. Everything.
Where can readers find out more about you?
www.addictarium.com : Official Website
https://addictarium.wix.com/voyageaddictarium: Addiction, Art & Recovery ePaper
www.facebook.com/addictarium or @addictarium: Facebook
@AuthorNDSettemi – Twitter
@SAMagazineLive – Creative Arts Magazine I published and work as the editor for.