This is the one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about Michael’s Walk memoir project.
Song Swap | Podcast | Interviews | GoFundMe | Merchandise | Track-by Track | Patreon
A 2-month road trip around the U.S.A. reimagining the conceptual journey taken by a character the focus of Tori Amos’ 2002 album, Scarlet’s Walk. A travelogue, a memoir, and an exploration into interpersonal violence experienced within an abusive relationship that lasted 15 years, starting from 2002. Connecting with other Tori Amos fans, interviewing them, and reflecting on how coercive control and manipulative abuse can exist with and without the presence of physical and sexual violence. 3 trans queers, 33 states, 55 days: limitless possibilities for healing.
I was accompanied by the wonderful and talented, Teague Leigh and Bayley Turner who will not only be contributing to the memoir in their own ways but working on their own creative projects simultaneously. Teague’s photography will illustrate Michael’s travel writing, and he will be using his images for various collections, photo essays and exhibitions. Bayley has made her own recordings, writings and notations to develop a poetry collection and/or spoken word project during the journey.
I have interviewed people, exploring their experiences of abuse, music and healing as well as what Tori Amos means to them. Having many voices inform my writing, I’ll be able to tap into what it is like to have closer access to Tori’s career and tours than I have, living in Australia.
If you’d like to be interviewed (regardless of where you are in the world), please fill out this google form, and email me at littleelfman (at) yahoo (dot) com so I know you’ve contacted me.
Because apparently I didn’t have enough on my plate, Bayley and I recorded a podcasting while we travelled! The show page can be found HERE. We talked it all out as we went, in a fun, music-filled way, full of poignant insights, giddy schoolgirl revelations and chats with those we met on the road. It was released on the go, every few days, recapping where we’ve been and the joys we find along the way. There are 18 core episodes, related to each track of the album, released after we have spent time with her geographically. I will be offering exclusive segments to my Patreon Supporters. So if you want more, jump on at the ‘Writing’ AU$10 level and not only will you get all the goodies I’ve been offering for over a year now, but also some extra banter and more in-depth lyric analysis.
Song Swap / Meet Up
Bayley and I regularly ask each other for a ‘Prescription’ and then will provide the asker a Tori track that we feel might be for them in that moment. Sometimes we know it references something specific going on with them, other times it’s plucked from the aether for reasons we couldn’t describe. “She will supply.”
I encourage everyone who comes to this page to participate! I’ll create a playlist to showcase the power music can have in our lives.
We were so grateful to receive such generous support to make the travel happen. Now that we are home, we are paying off credit cards and bank loans that were needed to see the trip to fruition. Any continued support is appriciated more than we can express. All support alleviates the financial burden of all three artists.
The memoir will reflect on varying forms of abuse from an LGBTQ perspective and frame it from the narrative of the road trip itself. I will be researching and unpacking emotional and financial abuse, manipulation, grooming, power imbalances and coercive control I experienced within an abusive, 15-year long queer relationship.
The journey is inspired by Tori Amos’ album, Scarlet’s Walk; a concept piece narrating her way around the United States on a journey of self-discovery and reflection. 2022 is the 20th anniversary of the album’s release. I have long planned to replicate the journey and write a book that is simultaneously a travelogue of the trip itself, music journalism reflecting on my and others’ relationship with the album, and an exploration of trauma woven into my life alongside the twenty-year history of its release. It was released the year I moved out of home and into that relationship. Making this trip, in 2022 specifically, has been my goal for at least four years.
I connected with other Tori Amos fans on the drive and interviewed people with experiences of abuse to inform the book. I’m very excited to partner with Dr. Dawn F. Nguyen who is a consulting Psychologist with more than twenty years of experience in advocacy, intervention education, and scholarship in various forms of relationship violence. It’s incredible to have this level of academic support, in both my own explorations and the interview process, and Dawn will be helping me analyse the interviews and my own writings.
In 2002, I moved out of home at 18, directly into that relationship. At the same time, Tori Amos released Scarlet’s Walk, the album I would most strongly connect with from her (now) 16 studio album discography.
By following Scarlet’s footprints around America in June and July of 2022, I started to unpack what I’ve been through and how I’ve moved forward and I had two of the most important people in my life by my side. The fantastic photographer Teague Leigh, recorded the trip with photography, and Bayley Turner, worked on her own poetry. Three neurodivergent queers with a shared love of 90s alternative rock and a penchant for deep conversation in a car for two months? All manner of discoveries!
Photo credit: Nick De Lorenzo
To read about my connection with Tori Amos, and the story of how Bayley and I met, check out this blog post
. (The image above is from me reading this piece at Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2019 at a session called ‘To All The Fandoms I’ve Loved Before’)
If you’d like to listen to Scarlet’s Walk, I can highly recommend it! Spotify
But there is not simply one outcome to this trip:
Teague will be photographing to accompany Michael’s travel writing, and will also be simultaneously collecting images to use for various collections, photo essays and an exhibition.
Bayley will be making her own recordings, writings and notations to develop a poetry collection and/or spoken word project during the journey.
What we are offering people who support us:
We cannot describe how much we value any level of support and we’ll be sure to personally thank each contributor in every way we can. Each supporter will receive a personalised postcard and a shout out in the book.
We’ll also be offering EXCLUSIVE creative works to those who donate:
~ In March, Michael shared a short story he wrote towards the end of 2019. It is fiction, but extremely personal for several reasons, but most relevant is that since ending the relationship I’m exploring in the memoir, I have been plagued by angry, panic-filled dreams where he is stalking me and will not leave me alone. They come and go, and still trouble me from time to time. But in the 2nd half of 2019, they were the most severe they had ever been. 3 or 4 nights a week for nearly 4 months straight I was waking up full of anxiety and terror. When I wrote this story, they stopped for a good six months at least.
~ In April, Teague shared a collection of exclusive photos that will be accessible only to those who have donated. They will be offered as a gift and yours to use in any way you see fit as if you had purchased the copyright to them. Please add photo credit whenever you do.
~ In May, Bayley shared two poems, a ‘Single’ and a ‘B-Side’, from her upcoming poetry project, Ulysses. Collaborating with music producer Matt Katz, Bayley will be creating spoken word sonic scenes that explore her journey so far with gender, spirituality, family, sex and relationship to nature. Donors will receive exclusive access to the tracks, the cover art and a video thank you from Bayley herself.
I’m very excited to partner with Dr. Dawn F. Nguyen who is a consulting Psychologist with more than twenty years of experience in advocacy, intervention education, and scholarship in various forms of relationship violence. It’s incredible to have this level of academic support, in preparing for both my own explorations and the interview process, and Dawn will be helping me analyse the interviews and my own writings. We hope this could inspire further study in the area of relationship violence within queer relationships, an area that is underrepresented in the academic field.
Dawn F. Nguyen, Ph.D. is a consulting Psychologist with more than twenty years of experience in advocacy, intervention education, and scholarship in various forms of relationship violence. Her experience includes managing San Diego’s countywide Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Elder Abuse hotline, Teaching and Training in interpersonal, sexual, and organizational violence with a focus on marginalized communities in the academic, public, and private sectors, and advocating for trauma based and research-oriented response to relationship violence. Dr. Nguyen is interested in arts-based treatments for survivors, prevention and intervention services for queer and disabled communities, and evidence-based treatment.
As a survivor of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, Dr. Nguyen has personal experience with the healing she experienced through a connection to music created and performed by Tori Amos, and has long used Tori Amos’ music to facilitate understanding, empathy, and insight in her courses and training.
Dr. Nguyen is excited to partner with Michael Earp to explore the efficacy of arts-based treatment modalities for trauma related symptoms, and to add to the scientific study of prevention, identification, and intervention for intimate partner violence survivors in queer communities.
I put videos together for those who prefer a more visual medium. Here’s a 4 Min vid explaining it all as well as the first of a series of minute-long videos where I touch on each track of Scarlet’s Walk and what it means to me. You can view the rest of them on my Instagram, or Twitter.
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
To give you a sense of the scale of the journey, here is the Map of Scarlet’s Walk, and then the version of it for Michael’s Walk. Each of the eighteen song-girls on Scarlet’s Walk have a path they connected to them. We have ensured we’ve touched on each girl’s path to make sure we’re connecting completely with the album. (oh, to have the time and money to replicate it exactly!)
Photo credit: Teague Leigh
Are you the type of person that likes a memento? We’ve set up a merch store as another way to raise some funds for the trip. Grab yourself a tee, a jumper, a mug, a tote… So many options! Each purchase puts a few coins in our pocket. Head on over to our store at The Print Bar . Here’s a little clip for some fun.
Did someone mention Patreon? Oh, perhaps it was me. I currently have 3 tiers open for those who want to support me on an ongoing basis:
- Thoughtful Patron: $1 – This is for those who simply want to throw a coin my way each month because you think I’m a bit of alright.
- Review Patron: $5 – Monthly newsletter including an in-depth review of a book I’ve loved, and 5 recommendations from what I’ve seen in my travels as book buyer at The Little Bookroom
- Writing Patron: $10 (and above) – All the above PLUS works in progress, excerpts from this project, exclusive Podcast segments, and a spotify playlist each month, to a theme (usually something writing related)
Everyone who pledges (no matter what level) gets access to a Zine I wrote for Love Your Bookshop Day in 2020. It features characters from my short story ‘Meet and Greet’. It’s super cute, IMO.
In fact, if Patreon is more your jam than the GoFund.Me, then know that I’ll offer the incentives to everyone who pledges on Patreon, too, regardless of level. Even the ‘Thoughtful Patrons’ will have something to show my gratitude!