For years, Dissard orchestrated her public life as a performer around her private disordered world. In 2013, at the end of her rope, she flees her hometown of Tucson, Arizona to seek solace back in Europe, a continent she'd left at age sixteen. In Paris, Dissard latches on to an intensive yoga teacher training to turn her life around.
'Of course, I was scared when I realised I would be speaking my truth after decades of keeping it freakishly hidden or, at best, cryptically whispered in my song lyrics"in French for more opacity', says Dissard.
'Not Me' is the account of a year spent away from the stage in an attempt to reboot a life plagued by eating disorders. Invited to teach, Dissard grabs the chance to learn. Focusing on her students, opening up to friendship, she gradually finds her way back to health and connections… and a wooden boat in England.
'I kept a journal of what I desperately needed to be a momentous year. These entries would form the basis of a book about my life, all these years I wasted in exile from myself. I don't prettify my truth. You have to face the music at some point.'
Author: Marianne Dissard
Question: What inspired you to write Not Me?
Marianne Dissard: I always knew there was a story that needing telling. My last album has skirted with sharing it, in cryptical lyrics " written in French for more obscurity. Maybe spellings things out in prose and in English would help me make sense of myself. Nothing much else had worked until I decided to write this book.
Question: Was it difficult to relive certain times when writing Not Me?
Marianne Dissard: Not so much when writing or revising because the process itself of writing a book superseded the painfulness of the memories. I had to write, and that buffered me from some of the pain. Also, as I was writing, I was still hurting myself so it wasn't so much a matter of reliving as living those 'certain times'. I suppose you get used to anything as 'normal'. It's only now, when I have to promote the book and discuss it in length with readers and the media that I should feel the most pain at being thrown back into a space I no longer inhabit.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Marianne Dissard: There are several issues as there are several tones. It's not only a serious book. There is humor too. It's a basic recovery memoir but it is also a literary attempt at storytelling. I had not read any eating disorders memoirs, wasn't interested in them prior to writing this book, and my influences were books like Heinrich Böll's The Clown or Burroughs' junky tales.
Question: What's next, for you?
Marianne Dissard: A memoir of desire, along the same lines as 'Not Me'. That one is painful to write, as 'Not Me' was when I was writing it. Also a novel, 'Operation Sundown', which might become a theatre play before I actually write the book. I've also booked a walking book tour through East Kent where I live, during which I'll do performative readings in eleven towns over eleven days " and 90miles " from Ramsgate down the coast to Folkestone, Canterbury and up the North Sea Kent coast through Whitstable, Margate... I'm planning some recordings too for a new release in collaboration with my favorite English band, Lunatraktors.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Marianne Dissard