Leaving a marriage isn’t easy, even under the best of circumstances; leaving a marriage almost arranged for you by your close-knit evangelical community once you realize you’re gay — As author Jenna Kadlec recalls in her new memoir, Heresy —harder.
Heretic expertly blends Kadlec’s lifelong experience of loving, being hurt and ultimately leaving the evangelical church to the evangelical in A carefully researched investigation of the power that wields power in everything from American politics to popular culture. As if the demands of a debut author’s press tour weren’t enough, Kadlec is also actively supporting the ongoing HarperCollins Union strike, even knowing that doing so might affect her sales as a HarperCollins book author.
Recently, Vogue spoke to Kadlec about writing about family, taking care of oneself through the emotionally draining process of writing a memoir , and uses her book as a “gateway” for those who have no experience with the concept of religious trauma. Read the full interview below.
Vogue: When did your book start to take shape?
Jeanna Kadlec: Honestly, I never No plan to write a memoir. During my 20 days, I was writing fiction, and in grad school I was writing fiction, but I read a lot of memoir. My partner and I were walking in Somerville [Massachusetts], and the title of the book stuck with me as we talked about some of the things that were going on in my life. It was one of those fully formed thoughts that I realized I was going to write about what happened to me. This title is really the North Star because it includes a lot of what the book will cover.
Your book obviously contains a lot of material about your family and other loved ones. What’s it like to strike a balance between telling the truth and maintaining those relationships?
For a long time, especially in the early days of it, I lived for my family—that is, me and The lives of my immediate family, especially my parents — [write down] are distressed. I don’t have as many reservations about talking about my marriage because once it was over, my ex-husband and I never spoke again. So with him, I felt more closed and more free, like I wanted to still be generous and compassionate in describing what happened. I feel like, you know, he’s not in my life anymore, and I can speak my mind, but that wasn’t always the case with my family. They knew about the book, and I had many conversations with my mom and dad about the book, and yes, in the years I started writing the book, I was very anxious about what I was going to say. I end up on the sidelines and it’s fair game for things that I’ve witnessed and things that really directly affect my existence, but there are a lot of things that I’m not talking about and it’s definitely a balance. It’s not possible for everyone, for sure, but it’s really important to me – even though I’ve been estranged from my parents for a while – to go back to Iowa last year and talk to them . I want them to hear it directly from me; I don’t want people calling them up and saying, “Have you read what Jenna wrote?”