High School Interview: Sierra Skye Gemma in conversation with Liam Lindley

Liam Lindley and Sierra Skye Gemma

Liam Lindley and Sierra Skye Gemma

Sierra Skye Gemma is an award-winning and self-described “mildly funny” writer and journalist. Her 15-year-old son, Liam Lindley, is a “much funnier” writer and artist. Sierra has been trying to capture Liam’s humour on her Tumblr page Liam Says for the past three and a half years. Watch for their first writing collaboration in our upcoming High School issue, where they explore their experiences of coming out as queer in high school.

Sierra sat down with Liam to discuss friendship, his future, and why homework sucks (*spoiler* when you get home from a long day at school you just want to masturbate).

Excerpt from  Liam Says

Excerpt from Liam Says

Sierra Skye Gemma: So, what’s it like having a whole Tumblr page dedicated to you? Do you tell your friends about Liam Says?

Liam Lindley: I just say some funny stuff sometimes and then you type it down. I don’t tell my friends about it. If one of my friends found out and said, “Oh hey! Is this you?” I wouldn’t be embarrassed or anything. I just don’t tell them because I don’t see it as all that important.

SSG: My work is not very important. I get it. 
Do you wish you could change anything about your school?

LL: This isn’t for just my school in particular, but for all schools: it should be made to be more realistic. Schools, especially high schools, are made to prepare you for the life ahead of you, so it should teach you a lot more about how to pay bills, what’s a good job to get—I don’t mean a lawyer or a secretary, but stuff that you actually want to do.

Liam Lindley

Liam Lindley

SSG: Wait, what are you saying? What are you saying about lawyers and secretaries?

LL: I don’t know. Personally, I see those as boring jobs. And also a lot of normal school stuff is really stupid. Like tests: all tests should be open-book. Because it’s never like you’re going to have a job and your boss is gonna give you a huge thing of papers and ask you to do all of them, all at once, but you have to do it all from memory! No one will ask you to ever do that! You could make the argument that it helps you with remembering things, but if you want that, then play a memory game or something!

It makes no sense. And then there’s also homework as well—don’t make us have to take this shit with us back home, because when we get back home, that’s paradise. We just want to go on our bed and watch TV and—

SSG: Jerk off—

LL: Furiously masturbate! And just wait for the next long day ahead of us.

SSG: So, if you had advice that you wanted to give to your friends, what would it be?

LL: My friends, I do like them, and I’m happy that they’re my friends and get along with me and stuff, I still hate it that I can only show specific parts of my personality in order to get along with them. This is something that I’ve noticed over time. All of my individual friends, for each one, there is only a piece of my personality that I can show to them. I can’t talk to anyone as a whole.

Excerpt from  Liam Says

Excerpt from Liam Says

SSG: I get that. But I would argue that’s just kind of how it works. I mean, I feel like I have friends who I do certain things with and I talk about certain things with. And I think that if you wait to make friends who are, like, these perfect matches for you, that get all the different things about you, you might be waiting a really long time. I’d rather have a large group of friends who are all unique and interesting in their own way and who get a part of me that someone else doesn’t. Because I think, ideally, if you ever meet a friend, like your best friend who gets everything about you, you should just marry that person. Hopefully you’re attracted to that person! Because that’s the one for you!

LL: Yeah, I guess so, but it’s even more of a bigger thing in high school. The different stereotypes that you see in TV shows—the jocks, the popular people, the nerds—while it’s not as obvious in real life, it is there and it does exist. I have so many different groups of friends and they’re all different. It always freaks me out when I see them talking to each other because it’s like, oh my god, this is like a cross-over in a comic book or something. What the hell is going on?

SSG: So, what do you want to do when you get out of high school?

LL: I’m not really sure. I have a lot of different interests. I think I want to get into animation because it combines two of my favourite things: filmmaking and drawing. So I would really like to do that. Maybe one day I’ll get into, I think it’s called CalArts University? Because that’s a place where all of the people who work at Disney and Pixar—they’ve all gone there.

SSG: Well, you know what you need to do? Because I just saw your report card—

LL: Don’t. Don’t!

SSG: You need to work on those grades if you wanna go to—

LL: Okay, can I just say one thing here?

SSG: Yeah.

LL: You should not get into a university because of your grades. You should just have to pay the fucking money. Like that’s all they really want in the end. They just want your money. Why else do you think student loans cost so much? They just want all of your money.

SSG: Oh, I’ve raised you so well!

LL: They just want your money so that they can teach you stuff that you couldn’t learn in high school because the education system in the entire world is messed up.

Sierra Skye Gemma

Sierra Skye Gemma

SSG: There are definitely problems. So that’s what you want to do for career and for higher education. How do you see the rest of your life?

LL: I am probably going to stay where I am right now, which is Vancouver, BC. Because it is an amazing place with free health care and the most amazing public transportation system that I have ever seen. So I am never getting a car! A driver’s license, definitely, but not a car. I’m probably going to live in an apartment with a roommate because I see myself as not being able to afford my own apartment.

SSG: You’re so practical about the realities of living in Vancouver! Don’t need a car. Definitely need a roommate! And for your love life?

LL: I don’t know. I’m pansexual, so I’d be fine with a boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever. I don’t really see myself getting married until I’m, like, thirty, maybe.

SSG: That’s a good age to aim for. Even, maybe, older.


This interview was edited and reorganized for clarity and for length.

Sierra Skye Gemma’s nonfiction has won The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest, Rhubarb’s Taboo Literary Contest, and the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer. Her work has been published in The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, Plenitude, the Best Canadian Essays anthology, and is forthcoming in SAD Mag. Find her online at sierraskyegemma.com and on Twitter as @sierragemma.

Liam Lindley is originally from Portland, Oregon. Writing and drawing have been passions of his for years and he hopes to use them in his future career. Liam’s first print publication is forthcoming in SAD Mag. Follow Liam’s antics at liamsaysthis.tumblr.com.