PW: In Piece by Piece, you're very candid about your creative process, and about how events in your life have shaped your music. Did you worry that describing your methodology in such detail would demystify your art?
Tori Amos: At certain points, Ann [Powers, Amos's cowriter] would say to me: "It's like pulling teeth to get some artists to talk about their processes; I might hear more about the girl on the back of the bus than how a guitarist came up with his riffs." So I thought of certain visual artists whom I look to, one of those being Georgia O'Keefe. I've read books where I'm taken through her methods of how she'd visualize a certain piece and how she'd materialize it. And I didn't feel for one moment when I looked at the painting itself—even though it had been verbally dissected for me—that this knowledge took away from it. It was the opposite effect; I felt more a part of it. Or when I saw [my daughter] Tash on the ultrasound scan, did that take away from me the glorious moment of when I met her in all her glory as a little being?
You do, at a certain point, want other people to be inspired by your process, apply it to their own and become creative forces.... When you get to a time in your life where you're ready to share, you know you've matured in some way.
PW: Your book is also somewhat self-referential, in that it discusses the collaboration between you and Powers in determining its structure and tone. How was this different from working with your musical collaborators?
TA: With Ann, I let her ask questions that I might not have let just anyone ask me. There had to be a level of trust, which there is with my musicians. Yet musicians aren't probing; you don't feel like you're under a microscope with the drummer. Not because he's not highly intelligent, but because you don't feel like you're being interrogated. Ann made it very clear that she had to probe. Because I understood she was there not to be destructive but constructive, I was able to open up in a way that I hadn't before to a journalist. Having a conversation with someone who's in the music industry but who's on the opposite side, I felt like I might shy away from things, like what I went through with my miscarriages. She'd say, "We can't shy away from this, because so many women suffer in silence." She was able to ask the questions that made me stay with it.
PW: The book also chronicles your adventures with the sleazier side of the music industry.
TA: There's a chess game to be played; could I have played it differently? From where I sit now, yes. It didn't occur to me at the time, because I only knew how to defend myself in a certain way. Harry Potter only knows how to fight—he knows how to conjure certain things, but you don't get to be Dumbledore at 29. Not that I'm Dumbledore now, but there's a level where you only learn by experience.... Everybody gets along with you until you don't do what they want you to do. You feel they start to see you as a possession, and when you're under contract, in a sense you are. Until you experience that, you don't know what the music business can be like.