Good Luck with the Book interviews Sophie White
Season 2, Episode 3: Sophie’s World
12 March 2020
On this episode, Sarah and Jamie interview the acclaimed author, journalist and podcaster Sophie White about her collection of personal essays, Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Shows. Here’s an extract from the podcast. Full interview can be found here.
So, Sophie, thank you so much for coming on. Your book. Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Shows is just out. It's a collection of personal essays, dealing with grief, mental health, motherhood, addiction, body image, and also most recently the pandemic. We're just thrilled to have you on. We loved the book and we've loads of questions for you.
Thank you so much for having me.
Many times you write about your alcohol addiction in the book very honestly. I found it very useful. My partner is teetotal but I still have a few drinks. However, during the pandemic, it is the first time I've experienced that Tuesday evening, “God I'd murder a drink” at four o'clock. And because my partner doesn't drink at all, I'm so aware if I take the bottles out, that's my drinking.
Exactly. After I quit drinking, Oh my God, our bottle recycling just plummeted to next to nothing. I was, you know, quite a good alcoholic, in that I knew all the tricks of the trade. So, I used to work off a box of wine because that'll hide a multitude.
Yeah. I'm really glad to hear that you took some identification with any of the stuff in the book, because I suppose when it's your own pain and you're just like, “Oh, I'm shouting off here about my crap and it's not going to serve any purpose or serve a reader.”
Healing is in the telling of the stories, you know. I always feel you don't actually need to fix anyone else, we just need to tell our stories. The healing is in this. Is that what you'd hope from your audience who would read the book or, as the book goes out into the world, what would you like as a reaction to it?
Like, I don't know, cause I already feel like I don't even know why I've done this! But I suppose sometimes I think it is about kind of remedying your own shame when you write this kind of nonfiction.
When my first book Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown came out, I had a lot of shame about this nervous breakdown that I'd had in my early twenties that have been triggered by my drug use. And I think when something like that happens to you, where you've quote unquote “done it to yourself” – I really believed like the whole of my heart that I had done it to myself – then I actually deserved everything that's happening to me. I know that there's a lot of people that would say “yes you did”.
But I also know that that's not that useful and that a lot of us suffer because of mistakes we've made and that thing of hauling our shame out into the light is the only way to get rid of the shame or at least move towards feeling it less.
So that's the same thing with Corpsing. It's funny because it's moved so much from the original idea. For example, when I pitched it, I wasn't quite sober yet. So, it's funny that it's ended up being a lot about alcoholism because I hadn't gone there yet and admitted it to myself. It was definitely niggling at me obviously for years, because you just don't go around being an alcoholic and not think, “I think I'm an alcoholic”.
In its initial pitch, Corpsing started as a book really about grief. The shame around Corpsing initially was that I had been a really bad daughter when my dad was ill and dying. I don't know what other people feel about this, but I knew that it was really tied into a terrible sense of guilt and shame. It was not like sadness at all. It was really about guilt, which is also very self-centered of me…
The full interview with Sophie White is on the Good Luck with the Book Podcast, Series 2, Episode 3: Sophie’s World.
Hosts: Sarah Cassidy and Jamie O'Connell
Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Shows is published by Tramp Press. It’s out now.