Questions of desire and pleasure are everywhere around us, and they are most exciting when we explore them with openness and imagination. In our new interview series, we put a few playful questions to creatives who we believe are interrogating these questions in the boldest ways – whether through writing, film, art, or other mediums.
Megan Nolan is a writer currently based in London. Her work includes essays, fiction and reviews which have been published widely including in The New York Times, The White Review, The Sunday Times, and The Guardian.
Her debut novel Acts of Desperation is an unflinching look at a toxic relationship and female desire. It was published by Jonathan Cape and Little, Brown US in 2021 to critical acclaim, and described by Karl Ove Knausgaard as “a love story like no other”.
My love language is
Is it too boring to say my love language is language? I deeply enjoy finding ways to tell people what it is I value in them and how much – but also I find a lot of joy in the shared language which develops inside an intimate relationship, those words and cadences which can never be replicated with another person.
Pure pleasure for me is
Walking alone in a good outfit on a warm summer night to meet someone I can’t wait to talk to and touch.
I feel good when I’m wearing
Linen, this one perfect white shirt covered in sunblock stains, my Townes Van Zandt t-shirt, orange-red lipstick, By The Fireside scent by Margiela.
I feel most connected to myself when
Alone abroad with a glass of good wine, writing, and reading.
My most niche kink (sexual or non-sexual) is
Making out to depressing country music.
One thing I’ve learned about desire is
That it matters more and less to different people. For a long time I assumed that desiring and being found desirable was as crucial and life-giving to everyone as it is to me, which often led to frustration and misunderstanding or resentment.
I’ve always wanted to
Experience life only from within my own material perception, without anticipating how I appear to others. Just for a day.
My best date was
Just after the last Covid lockdown in London, I wildly overdressed in a black velvet sweetheart neckline cocktail dress to go on my third date with my now-boyfriend. We went to Little Duck The Picklery in Dalston and sat outside on the pavement drinking orange wine and as we finished dinner a woman passing by shouted out that she loved my book, instantly making me look like a total big shot and making me feel even more like the world was back again and anything was possible.
My most memorable one-night stand (sexual or platonic) was
The man I met while visiting New York a few years ago who, when the bar was closing, very smoothly booked us a hotel room a few blocks away from the bar and then shouted “I love New York” when he undressed me and looked at my body.
On my nightstand you’ll always find
Melatonin, a fancy candle, perfume, a good book, a notebook, and a dictaphone.
I always gather inspiration from
1970’s cinema, aesthetically and emotionally.
My ideal/fantasy relationship is
One in which a truly intimate bond can exist alongside complete individuality and personal freedom – though I’m yet to be convinced this is more than a fantasy, sadly.
I’m currently listening to/watching/reading
Listening to Warren Zevon, watching Scenes From A Marriage, and reading The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell.
My style/life icon is
Jenny Diski – beautiful, stylish, clever, and funny; a writer whose candid humor about her own life and the lives of others manages not to interrupt its own seriousness, which is an astonishingly rare trick to pull off. She was an ideal mix of being very real, and at the same time surreally talented and elegant.
You can usually find me
Walking – I have long been reluctant to engage in any sort of concerted physical exercise but in recent years have found I can get around this by simply never taking public transport when it can be avoided and walking for hours each day, which also gives me time to listen to music and audio documentaries and think through things which are puzzling or interesting me.
Recently I’ve discovered
Therapy. Turns out having somebody I can talk to who I don’t need to like me, for the first time in my life, is pretty important.
I wish more people knew
It’s never too late to start over (well, eventually it is, but it’s probably not yet).
I love sharing
Everything – I compulsively offer some of whatever I’m having to whoever I’m with. I need everyone to try everything. This is especially true of seafood and a particularly nice cocktail.
The thing I couldn’t do without
A near-constant flurry of conversation from my group chats, simultaneously preventing me from achieving anything, and also giving me the will to live.
I currently can’t get enough of
The work of art that changed everything for me is
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, which I read as a pre-teen just about to start dating; it certainly influenced how total and devotional my crushes can get. I still have that impulse to make them productive and external in some way, to draw a picture of the person, or write a poem about them.
The best advice I’ve ever received is
To feel lucky to meet new people, and believe that they are lucky to meet you too.
The last thing I loved was
The Penny Goring show at the Institute of Contemporary Art, an amazing artist and poet whose work about bodies and destruction and dreams is totally captivating and inspiring.
I’m most looking forward to
Being 35. I’ve got a couple of years to go, but I’ve always really fancied being that age for some reason, and the trajectory of the last few years is reflecting that so far. My thirties are much more comfortable, embodied, and interesting than my twenties.
I’m most turned on by
Passionate devotion to a pursuit which is not a relationship.