Catriona McHardy + Cathy Plourde on “Making Out Like a Virgin”

Making Out Like a Virgin received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with authors/editors Catriona McHardy + Cathy Plourde.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Making Out Like a Virgin: Sex, Desire & Intimacy After Sexual Trauma

What’s the book’s first line?

They say a kiss is just a kiss.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Making Out Like a Virgin is about re-finding desire and intimacy with the feelings of newness and freedom. Survivors of sexual trauma offer a glimpse into reclaiming their lives and finding excitement again with that first kiss.

What inspired you to write the book?

Cathy: I was launching a publishing company with my business partner (TG) and we wanted people who had a lot to say about sex and sexuality to write for us. So of course I called my friend Catriona. I said, Catriona, I know you have a book in you. She said, Yes, I do, but I am a terrible writer. She’s not, but I said, What if I do it with you?

Catriona: Our first conversations about sexual violence led us to approach the labels “victim” and “survivor” with a determination to open a cultural dialogue about moving beyond these words. We wanted a book that models a world where people individually– and collectively–experience positive and healthy sexuality.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

It’s a book that fills a void and brings a positive light and hope to the devastating and often hopeless consequences of sexual violence. Sex and desire and intimacy are not something that people talk about easily, and even more so when sexual trauma is involved. Making Out Like a Virgin shows people a way through the quagmire and weightiness of sexual trauma.

Is this the first you’ve written?

Cathy: I’ve primarily been a playwright. I think that’s because I like dialogue. I’ve put out two anthologies of performance pieces written by LGBT+ youth and their allies (Out & Allied vol. 1 & 2) A couple of my plays have been ‘translated’ for use in Australia (The Thin Line, You the Man) and those scripts have just been released in print. I met Catriona in 2006 when Planned Parenthood of Northern New England commissioned a play from me about adults’ and parents’ role in talking to teens about sex and sexuality (When Turtles Make Love).

Catriona: My mission has always been to talk about sexuality and create a culture that honors and respects healthy sexual expression. I don’t consider myself primarily a writer but I’ve been involved in developing curriculum for Planned Parenthood about sexuality which has been used around the world. My background in sexuality and education and Cathy’s background in writing and working with people to tell their stories made for a perfect match.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

Catriona: Talk about sexuality. My daughters repeatedly said, “Mom, do we have to talk about sex again?” Now I’ve found yet another audience in the college classroom where I teach human sexuality. I love being a sexpert but I’m also engrossed in other topics like race and ethnicity and intercultural communication.

Cathy: I spend a lot of time thinking about change and society and how change actually happens. I like to examine a problem or issue and consider why it’s stuck, and then look at the elements that influence social change and build community. That led me to the creation of Add Verb Productions,  the arts-based nonprofit I founded and ran for 15 years.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

Cathy: The hardest thing is learning as you go and wishing you had known that key little thing before. The best part is that I’ve gotten to pick the people I wanted to work with like Catriona and Tavia Gilbert  (co-publisher and audiobook narrator).  I’m always looking to collaborate with innovative people who also want to change the world.

Catriona: I don’t want you to create with more people, Cathy, because I think you and I have a lot more work to do! But more seriously, from what I have learned, being in an indie world gives you more freedom, and as a writer/editor I like being part of the whole picture.  I like knowing all of the decisions that are being made because it keeps the project alive for me.  I think the indie approach is good for the book industry.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

Catriona: I don’t think so. I prefer to keep more control overall because the topic is sensitive and often controversial, and our culture and the media don’t have an objective language around sexuality.

Cathy: I’ve never been a person that has waited for permission. For better or worse, if there’s something that I see needs to be said I’m likely to do it myself if I think it’s important. My mom swears I came out of the womb saying, “Me do it.”

Catriona: And my dad said, “You don’t always have to rock the boat, Catriona.”

Is there something in particular that motivates you?

Catriona: Well, I’m very, very happy that my life has given me the challenge to make people talk about sex, and I wish that fame and sex came together. My ultimate goal in life is to be interviewed by (NPR’s) Terry Gross before I die (though I may die of fear if it actually happens).

Cathy: I’m motivated by the process of writing, and am forever revising. But a deadline and a partner in crime are my biggest motivators.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Cathy: My first crush was Mark Twain.

Catriona: My first recognition that there was so much more out in the world than I had been privy to was with F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the way he wrote about society and money. I love Annie Lamott (Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith) because I think her brain works like my does, both the humor and the irreverence and she is very spiritual. And I love Atul Gawande (Being Mortal) because he blends his medical background with his philosophy.

Cathy: Catriona, that’s three.

Catriona: I know.

Cathy: Okay, my three: Margaret Atwood was an early feminist hero of mine. bell hooks opened my mind. Zora Neal Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God was so powerful that I seriously was unable to read another book for over a month.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

Cathy: I wish I had written a book that hasn’t been written yet–one that various people in positions of power could have been read as children so perhaps they would not treat people and the world as if they were their toys to break.

Catriona: I wish that I could convey my thoughts–written or spoken–as beautifully as Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow).