Mamiverse: What has been the best and the worst part of seeing it in print? Valdes: The best part has been when people have read it and understood that it was nothing more than a snapshot in time, one woman’s personal journey. The worst part has been the cruelty of some bloggers, the knee-jerk reaction on the part of the extreme feminist and liberal world that has made all sorts of assumptions about me and my story and message without bothering to read the book or talk to me.One reporter did a very good job of actually reading the book and interviewing me, trying to get the true story, and she has been tormented by bloggers and trolls because of it. She came to one of my readings and told me she had to put her blog on private because of the deluge of hateful and threatening email she was getting. This makes me sad. Reporters Without Borders, a nonpartisan watchdog group, ranked the United States #47 in the world for press freedom in 2012.
I write in the memoir about a love affair I had with a complicated man, a man who had some wonderful qualities, but who also ended up apparently having some abusive, narcissistic behaviors. This kind of duality seems to make some readers’ heads explode, because they like simple narratives, simple characters, black and white thinking with no shades of gray: He can’t be both good and bad at the same time! That must be a lie! The writer must be manipulating us! The writer must be an idiot! What this has taught me is that people in our society don’t have a very clear picture of the gradual, insidious and often seductive way abusive relationships develop, how they often look in the honeymoon phase—which is to say they can be very good—until they become very bad. Also difficult has been the personal attacks people have been making upon me for writing my own life story. They don’t agree with my choices, so they call me stupid on blogs, or, as one commenter on one blog said, hope for me to walk in front of their car so I can get run over. It has been interesting, to say the least. Mamiverse: Could you describe the creative process behind your memoir? Valdes: It’s probably not as romantic or fun as it seems. Writing is a job to me, and so I approach it methodically. I came up with the idea to write the memoir one afternoon as I was riding around on the back of the cowboy’s four-wheeler with him. Who would ever have thought I’d end up in this kind of rural, conservative, cattle-ranching world? I wondered. It just had the makings of a good story, I thought, and I’d longed to write memoir for a while. I mapped out the story, outlined it, and sat down to fill it in with as much detail as I could remember.