Thursday 24 August 2017


Lit Fiend Interview number seventeen is here! Featuring a writer whose work has previously appeared in Paper and Ink Literary Zine Issue #10, and now also in Issue #11 - The Punk Issue.

First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?

My name is Hannah Joy Graves. I don't really feel like I come from anywhere. I've been living in Berlin for the last five years but was born in the UK. Southampton is the last place I lived before I came here. I'm also not sure what I do! Until the end of last year, I ran a tattoo studio and gallery here. I'm now working in an office and a bar whilst co-editing a tattoo book. I also freelance as a social media manager/content creator. Could I have made that any more complicated?

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, what prompted you to move there?

It's the perfect backdrop for anyone who thinks they're different I guess. I've always valued a sense of freedom, longed for it and Berlin seemed to offer that. I first came here in 2010, and I was hooked. I was also sick to the back teeth of the UK and looking for an escape route from the life I'd boxed myself into there. I landed a job here in 2012 and moved with one suitcase full of inappropriate clothing and 300€.

I am going back there in September, can you recommend anything I should check out whilst there? Any poetry/literary nights? Any good bars or gig venues?

Honestly, there is just so much going on it's always so hard to make recommendations. It usually depends on when exactly you'll be here, venues and bars vary a lot here depending on what's going on on any specific night so the best I can say is let's get coffee when you're here and I can point you in the right directions! I have to give a shout-out to Franken on Oranienstrasse. It's the first bar I ever went to in Berlin and is somewhat of a spiritual home for me, it's also directly opposite legendary music venue S036, in the neighbourhood I call home. Schwarze Café, once a haunt of Nick Cave and cohorts, is also worth checking out. It's one of my favourite places to drink coffee and read or write.

Your piece in Paper and Ink #11, 'Loving Yourself Is A Riot', deals with a lot of issues stemming from your time fronting a punk band. Do you miss playing in a band?

I do. I absolutely do, but I also feel like it's something that belongs in my past. I never feel done. I always go to shows and think, shit, I should front a band again but as with most things in my life I want all of the gratification without actually doing the work. I want to play shows but I can't be bothered to practice. I recently passed up the opportunity to try out for a band here, the more I thought about it the more I just couldn't see it. I think it's the writing lyrics aspect of being in a band that was a big part of the appeal for me, feeling like you're speaking to and relating to people, so I'm focusing on that at the moment. Or moving into a headspace where I can at least think about it.

The piece makes reference to what your life may have been like had you not discovered punk. What do you think non-punk Hannah would be up to now?

I'd like to say, she'd be better educated, she'd probably be married, she'd probably have more stability but as I say that I can say one thing with absolute certainty. If she was still alive, she'd be completely miserable. I have been a weird kid my whole life. I tried hard to fit in. I never felt as if I had anyone fooled and non-punk Hannah would have been crushed by the effort. Punk Hannah very nearly didn't make it, so she would have had no chance.

Sticking with punk for a moment, what are your current favourite artists/albums?

I'm a massive Alkaline Trio fan. That band. I've only recently got into Against Me! I can remember everyone being like HOLY SHIT THIS BAND but I sort of missed them, so I'm really enjoying them at the moment. I get a lot of life from seeing friends of mine be creative and succeed so Southampton heroes Creeper, who just got home from Warped tour are my current favourites. I also like to keep a loving eye on Itch from The King Blues, he's putting out a poetry book soon. There's so much stuff on regular rotation with me, Jimmy Eat World, AFI, Danzig, Ghost, Dolly Parton. I'm learning to be open to new/different stuff too. I really like Sia for example, and Kesha's new stuff is incredible. Minus twenty scene points.

If you were stranded on a desert island which three albums would you want with you?

I have always wanted someone to ask me this question and now I can't answer it. The temptation is to pick three obscure, very "cool" albums but I'm going to have to take the route of radical honesty and say-

1. Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music Split Ep

2. The Get Up Kids - On A Wire

3. Heavens - Patent Pending

What books are you reading at the moment?

I'm reading Tranny by Laura Jane Grace and learning tarot with Michelle Tea's amazing new book, "Modern Tarot". I also have a well-loved copy of Tea's "How To Grow Up" on the go at all times.

Which writers/artists/people/whatever have been the biggest influence on your own writing?

Well, speaking of Michelle Tea, I don't think any writer has been more helpful to me in so many ways. I'd like to make How To Grow Up, compulsory reading for everyone. Nick Cave is such a wonderful writer. Sick Bag Song is a masterpiece. Again, it's in my nature to try and think of cool stuff to list off here now so people will think I'm cultured and interesting but honestly, the thing having the biggest influence on my writing right now is my recovery from alcoholism and the community that has connected me to. I get to spend my time in rooms full of incredible, moving, stories and I am learning more about the art of storytelling by figuring out who I am in recovery more than I have anywhere else. Hemingway said, "in order to write about life, first you must live it" and I just adore that quote because it reassures me that I've been doing research all these "wasted" years.

I have really enjoyed both the pieces you've had in Paper and Ink so far and would love to see more... What are your plans going forward, writing wise?

Thank you. I'd love to write more. I'm in this intensely transformative time in my life but I feel I've had a calling since I was a tiny kid. I used to write pages and pages of stories in a handwriting that no one could read, but I could read them to you, and at some point, a long the way, I lost that. But I feel like I'm starting to uncover it now. I'd like to work with other women on a project I'm calling "Dear John ", which I can't really tell you too much about yet as it's just an idea. All I know is that it's driven by a desire to empower female voices. I'm hoping to host some reading nights, maybe make a zine. I don't know. I know that at some point I'm going to have to sit down and open this door I know I've kept closed for a long time because I know it will overwhelm me when it opens. I can also tell you that I'm fucking angry. I'm disgusted that I live in a world where our governments are actively poisoning us, killing us and making a profit from that whilst running anti-drug campaigns. I'm tired of seeing my friends die from alcoholism. Raising some awareness of addiction as a disease and trying to shine some light on the quality of life that is possible in recovery, and how much more effective we can be in instigating change with the clarity it brings is going to be a huge priority for me now and I hope that's something I can do through my writing.

Thank you for answering these questions. Follow Hannah on Twitter and Instagram @hannahjoygraves and buy Issue 11 of Paper and Ink Literary Zine from here or here.

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