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Dykelife Interview with Justine Saracen                           Autumn 2007  DL: What's your favourite lesbian novel and why? JS: If I may bend that "lesbian novel" to "lesbian work" I would say Portrait of a Marriage,(by Nigel Nicolson) the account of Vita Sackville West's and Violet Keppel's tumultuous affair. What impressed me was not only the intensity of Violet's passion and Vita's ruthlessness, but the laying out of the entire affair in their fevered letters. Such a classy way to commit adultery. I just - you'll pardon the expression - ate it up. Years later I spent time with Nigel at Sissinghurst Castle and he expressed his horror that his mother had become a sort of lesbian icon. I did not tell him that I was one of those obsessed lesbian readers. DL: Which of your own characters do you most identify with? JS: Primarily I identify with Valerie Foret, the archeologist heroine of both my desert novels, but a part of me feels frighteningly comfortable inside the heads of the murderous Volker and the fanatical Crusader Ludolf of Tournai DL: If you could only keep one CD which would it be? JS: Arias by Puccini and Verdi sung by Kiri Te Kanawa. Or French Arias sung by Kiri Te Kanawa. Or Mozart Arias sung by Kiri Te Kanawa. Do you detect a theme here? DL: Who's your favourite artist?  JS: Easy one. Michelangelo. I am convinced that his Sistine ceiling only pretends to be pious, but is really a major coup  -- shameless soft core gay pornography painted all over the ceiling of the Pope's private chapel. I have studied the panels in painstaking detail and even wrote a novel about it so I know whereof I speak. Unfortunately, he was not too good with women, in painting or in life.   DL: Who would be your fantasy date? JS: Helen Mirren. In a Bedouin tent. We'd smoke a little sheesha, drink cardamom tea in little glasses, in the tent next door someone would be playing the oud. We'd talk a long while -- talking is very sexy. Then …you know. DL: If you were batting for the other side who would you fancy?  (ie - which man do you fancy?) JS: The British Middle East journalist Robert Fisk. I find intelligence and courage to be very sexy, in men and women. He has an abundance of both. DL: You and your preference  - butch, boi or femme? JS: None of these. I both identify with and fancy --- well, women like Helen Mirren. A mentally butch feminine woman. DL:  Which living person do you most admire and why? JS: Can I pick more than one? If so, then Robert Fisk, British journalist, and Amy Goodman, American journalist. Both very intelligent, persistent, courageous. DL: Which of your jobs have you most enjoyed? JS: Opera management in New York City. As manager, concert organizer, and assistant to the performer, I got to go backstage and be part of the production in several major opera houses. What a rush. DL: Describe your home in one sentence. JS: A little European townhouse on a narrowwinding street with a French name in Brussels. DL:  What irritates you most about yourself? JS: That I always come down with a cold before a major conference or reading. DL: Who or what would you like to banish? JS: The US Republican party and a good portion of the US Democrats - hell, make it the entire federal government - for shredding the US Constitution. DL:  What's the most romantic thing you've ever done? JS. Well, the really romantic things, like meeting secretly with married women, sneaking into forbidden places, declaring endless love to the most dangerous people, risking life, limb and career for mad infatuations  - those are the thing you can't really talk about in a magazine, can you? DL: When have you felt most proud of yourself? JS. When I got my Ph.D. DL:  How often do you exercise? JS: Ha ha ha ha. (She falls off her chair.) DL: Which job other than yours would you like to do? JS: I would like to be an opera singer, but one who never catches a cold. A mezzo-soprano would be quite nice, thank you. Then I would like to sing the trouser roles in Nozze de Figaro, Orfeo and Rosenkavalier. Then I would like to seduce the soprano. Does that count as a job? DL: Who would you like to have been in a former life? JS: Hatshepsut. Is wanting to be a pharaoh reaching too high? DL: What's the meaning of life in one sentence? JS: It's a tale told by an idiot, filled with sound and fury signifying…nothing. (Full disclosure. I didn't make that up.)