this month's conversation is with the gorgeous and multi-talented Wallace – writer, blogger, world traveler and sometime-model whose literary tastes are as stellar as her personal style.
read on for the interview!
hello! please introduce yourself to LAM readers.
I’m Wallace… yes, that’s my first name. (My mother gave me her maiden name as a first name.) I’m a writer who lives in Santa Barbara County (California). I grew up in Colorado, but am originally from Chicago.
1. you're a contributor to BookRiot and also run your own literary blog, Unputdownables.net. how long have you been blogging? how did you start?
I’ve been writing Unputdownables for almost five years. I was a teacher before and was unhappy at work, so started writing a book blog on the side. I needed something outside of work to stimulate my creative side and give me an outlet to discuss the publishing world. I got into it at a good time and made a fast community - some of those in that community are the ones who started BookRiot. They reached out and asked a few of us if we were interested in joining (at the time we weren’t being paid), and a group of us said yes. Most of us are still there (now we get paid) and we have many more contributors who have joined along the way!
2. are you currently working on any writing projects?
I am working on a project. It’s in the embryo stage so it’s hard to talk about... yet. I got the idea from a photographer that I “know” from Instagram. She is doing a project on women and we discussed me sitting for her next time she is in California. My brain started turning and I thought of something that I would like to do to contribute to the project (besides lending my portrait) that would involve other writers. I’m hoping it comes to fruition - if it does, I’ll let you know more about it!
3. how do you approach writing / reading as a creative process?
Sometimes it can be hard to read for work because reading, like nothing else, can really affect your mood. You have to commit to a book in a different way than you have to commit to any other type of art. You can’t get through it in minutes or hours and you are immersed in another world for the duration of the story (or narrative).
"Reading is less of a creative process for me - it’s more of a transformative process. You’re either learning, escaping, being entertained, or processing…or possibly all of the above."
As for writing - obviously it’s easiest when you are struck by inspiration. Plenty of times, though, there is a deadline and you need to come up with something. In that case, the Internet is incredibly helpful, and Pinterest is a must! Amazing how inspiring it can be for so many different things. (Amazingly, Polyvore can be too!)
4. winter to me is always such a great reading season. what have you been reading lately? who are your favorite writers?
I’m always reading about three or four books at a time. It means that I finish books much slower than many of my colleagues, but I have a really hard time committing to just one book. At the moment, I’m reading Flowers in the Attic (for the January Read-a-Long on Unputdownables), Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, The White Album by Joan Didion (I read an essay here and there).
I really love the Brontë sisters, J. Courtney Sullivan, Edna St. Vincent Millay, David McCullough, Virginia Woolf, Janet Evanovich, Dorothy Parker, and Cheryl Strayed (particularly as Sugar). As you can see, I have a hard time making a decision and my reading is all over the spectrum!
Oddly enough, some of my very favorite books aren’t even authored by the people I mentioned above: The Shipping News (Annie Proulx), The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett), Just Kids (Patti Smith), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott).
5. anyone who follows you on instagram knows that you've got some killer style, and that you're also a part-time model! how would you describe your personal style these days? what are you really into style/beauty-wise?
I am a very, very part-time model. Thank you about the style! It’s ironic, now that I live outside of Los Angeles (where I was for almost a decade), I enjoy playing with style so much more than I did when I lived there. I live in an area that is very rural, but is also quite stylish - it’s a place where you’ll see the guy from the local feed store next to a celebrity at the coffee shop (we’re not far from LA, so it’s a popular place for get-a-way homes). I think my style is really influenced by that at the moment.
The older I get, the more I’ve noticed how much style is an art form. My style has evolved from me recognizing this. Where I used to think that caring too much about what we wear makes us shallow - I no longer feel this way (for the most part…people can abuse it, of course).
"I’m never just one thing lately. If I look in the mirror and I’m a full on tomboy I have to add something to femme it up - a cashmere wrap, some jewelry… maybe take off the Converse and put on some booties."
"Sometimes what we’re wearing gives us the confidence to be who we need to be so we can make a difference. There’s nothing shallow about that."
Is it privileged that I live in a place where I am able to decide what I wear every day? It shouldn’t be, but it is. Is it shallow to care what I’m expressing to the world about who I am? No, it means I care about who I am and what I’m presenting to the world - it doesn’t mean my entire day is then about what I’m wearing.
As far as what I’m into - lately, I’d say edgy with the right amount of softness, and unique. I’m loving the Replica perfumes by Mason Martin Margiela because the entire line is made to be mixed together, which means even if other people have it, you can still have a unique signature scent by not only which ones you mix together, but how you mix them (i.e. the one you put on first actually matters).
6. do you have any wardrobe essentials / a style uniform? what do you wear when you're working? on the weekend?
I’ve recently had people call me a sexy geek and the girl next door in couture. I don’t actually own anything of that couture (I wish!), but I'm taking both descriptions and never giving them back! ;) I once read a quote about how choosing what you wear each day is about choosing who you want to be that day. I get that now, and I get that it’s not a shallow thing.
I live in a pair of grey CoH jeans. And I’m addicted to Isabel Marant’s Almon tee shirts. I have it in black and grey (and also have the long sleeved version in grey). I also live in my converse and Isabel Marant booties - not only because they’re completely fabulous with everything, but she makes some of the most comfortable boots ever. If someone can make me feel like I’m wearing trainers while adding something a bit more special to the outfit, I’m sold. My new favorite pair are my suede Crisi boots in brown. I’ve been wearing them with everything… everything.
Since I work at home, I have to push myself to get ready. I make sure to have a few things that have to be done (apart from exercise) outside the house each day so that I get dressed and give it some effort. My wardrobe doesn’t usually change from weekday to weekend.
7. is there a personal or sartorial piece that's really special to you? what's the story behind it?
I have a couple. My SC bag was a turning point for me last year. It was the moment I decided that I was going to start investing in my wardrobe so that I can love what’s in it and so what’s in it can be around for a long time. I care about having better items rather than having tons of items.
Also, my BRVTVS jewelry is special to me. The pieces are incredibly beautiful in a very minimalistic way - the designer, Caroline Ventura, has really fantastic style. She also turned me onto Blanca Monrós Gómez emerald studs that I wear every single day. Emeralds are said to bring people together in love and also to bring the wearers reason and wisdom. Love, reason, and wisdom are things I could use everyday, so these have become my signature earrings.
8. what bag are you carrying lately, and what's in it?
I don’t carry it everyday, but I use it SO often… my Marni bag. I bought it this summer. It’s a tote that turns into a backpack (which is killer for traveling; running through the airport with a backpack is so much easier than with a heavy tote). It’s so spacious with great pockets, yet incredibly chic… and the leather is like butter (and gets softer and yummier with each use).
No matter what bag I have with me, I always have my small Comme de Garcons zip pouch with my favorite chapstick, hand lotion, small face lotion, simple lip color, and a hair tie; my iPhone (which includes my Nook and audible apps so I can read wherever I am), and my Erica Tanov wallet.
9. as an East-coaster, i always dream of life in the west coast around this time of year. what do you love about California / your city? what do you love to do in your downtime?
I’m not going to lie - California is pretty great… we have four very different aspects to our state depending on where you are (south, central, northern, inland). It’s easy to get to all of these different places using a car, and you literally feel like you’re in different states depending on where you are in the state. I live in the mountains above Santa Barbara, so I’m very close to the beach, but I have mountain weather meaning warm in the day and cold at night (we can go from the 70s in the day to the 20s at night here sometimes!). It makes it easy to wear an array of clothing! Like I mentioned, I live in a small, laid back town which is so incredibly naturally beautiful that people actually come just to be in the ambience (but they also come because we offer good shopping, high-quality food, and plenty of wine tasting!).
In my downtime you can find me doing yoga, running, going to spin, spending time with friends and family, cooking, using my new camera, reading, & cuddling with my cat in front of TV. I also tend to have a nature that likes the stability of somewhere great to come home to, but itches to leave when I’ve been in one place too long… so if you can’t find me in town I’m probably on a plane headed somewhere. Last year alone I had 23 flights and many, many car trips.
10. what are you passionate about? who / what inspires you?
I’m passionate about the written word (reading and writing ground me), and about the relationships in my life. I don’t know where I would be without books. If I’m having “a day” I can go to the library or a bookstore and feel like I’m in a sanctuary. My mom and brother are my lifelines, and I have a group of incredibly close friends - without them I have no idea who I’d be. And, the older I get, travel. I’ve always had a bug for it, but not always had the time to go - I’m at a place in my life where I can now, so go is pretty much what I want to do.
"I’m a naturally curious person so I really like seeing what other people and places are like - I love reading about them, but there’s nothing like experiencing the world for yourself."