I first met Wendy Ortiz when I was in the MFA program at Antioch in Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. She was a good-natured, gorgeous, unflappable staffperson during my whirlwind year there. I came across her again on Twitter in the past few years. Both of us with small kids, sharing that particular #writermom camaraderie. I was delighted when her memoir came out, and when I was accepted to the Debutante Ball, I knew I wanted to feature an interview with her.
EXCAVATION: A MEMOIR
Wendy C. Ortiz was an only child and a bookish, insecure girl living with alcoholic parents in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her relationship with a charming and deeply flawed private school teacher fifteen years her senior appeared to give her the kind of power teenagers wish for, regardless of consequences. Her teacher—now a registered sex offender—continually encouraged her passion for writing while making her promise she was not leaving any written record about their dangerous sexual relationship. This conflicted relationship with her teacher may have been just five years long, but would imprint itself on her and her later relationships, queer and straight, for the rest of her life.
In EXCAVATION: A MEMOIR, the black and white of the standard victim/perpetrator stereotype gives way to unsettling grays. The present-day narrator reflects on the girl she once was, as well as the teacher and parent she has become. It’s a beautifully written and powerful story of a woman reclaiming her whole heart.
The Debs Interview with Wendy C. Ortiz
1. Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
My body. I turn 43 in a few months and I have never felt this strong, this good, this embodied in my entire life. There’s a new level of pleasure I get from my body that I don’t think could have happened any sooner.
Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir (Future Tense Books, 2014), Hollywood Notebook (Writ Large Press, 2015) and the forthcoming Bruja (CCM, 2016). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Hazlitt, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and The Nervous Breakdown, among other places. Wendy lives in Los Angeles. You can find Wendy on Twitter, Instagram , her website or tumblr. According to Wendy, “I’ve been using my tumblr as a public notebook, and it’s there one can find (some of) my notes toward whatever I’m writing next.”