We understand you've only recently begun publishing poetry; have you been writing it for much longer? Do you or have you ever thought of yourself as a poet, or has this all seemed rather accidental?
Completely accidental. I had a progressive fifth-grade teacher and one of the things we did in our English class was experiment with different poetic forms. I got totally hooked on haiku and was writing them in my spare time after school. Then in .. sixth grade? I got back into poetry, but all free-form stuff, mostly with a heavily folkloric tinge to it. (Can a thing be heavily tinged? I guess not really. But it was.) Lots of ridiculous random line breaks, everything in lowercase, that sort of thing. Knowing nothing of publishing poems -- or anything else for that matter -- I had the certainty of a single-minded eleven-year-old that I would write a book of poetry. Had a title page printed up and everything.
Since then, though, the first poem I'd written was "Persephone, Returned," which appeared in the Spring '09 issue of Goblin Fruit. Yes, yes, a Persephone poem. I know. And since that, I've written .. er .. five poems? And most of 'em are right here. So, short answer: Never really thought of myself as a poet. A dabbler, certainly. A dilettante. Hell, I just like playing around with words, whatever form that takes.
You say you knew nothing of published poems -- but did you read poetry at all? Did you grow up with any poems that meant a great deal to you?
As an angsty teenager I was into Sylvia Plath (and I still adore "Mad Girl's Love Song", which could well have been my anthem at the time), but the poem I remember being most fascinated by was "Tom O' Bedlam," which I came across I know not where, and have always loved finding new versions of or variations on it. I never did read much poetry, really, but have always loved poetic prose when done well.
Folklore, tricksters, and crossroads make prominent appearances in your work. What is your earliest memory of being exposed to folk lore, either in story or experience?
When I was six I used to get books through those Scholastic book order forms you'd get in class. (Anyone remember those?) The only one I remember now was a book on Greek mythology. For a couple of weeks that stayed on top of the pile of books beside my bed, which would get read or re-read when I couldn't sleep. I loved Athena. I think I wanted to be her when I grew up.
Yep, I do have rather a soft spot for every stripe of tricksters and all their satellite tropes. (You have any idea how much I wanted to love BPAL's "Crossroads"?) They remind me very deeply of someone I know. This gets me into trouble as my tragic flaw (or one of them) is getting faaaar too attached to fictional characters, and tricksters never do return one's calls ...
You mention tragic flaws, and the main action of your first novel, Desideria, takes place in a theatre; you've also written elsewhere that you write prose "for the ear." Have you ever written or perfomed in a play or other piece of performance art? Do you feel that impacts your writing?
I've always been interested in theatre and would love to write and/or perform in at least one Actual Play. I did write a screenplay, but amn't talking about that just yet. Perhaps in a bit, when it's no longer up in the air waiting to get shot down.
Is that your natural hair colour?
Nope. I'm blonde. Haven't been blonde since I was fifteen or so, though. Time was, I had blood-red hair down past my waist. But the Powers That Be apparently decreed that blood red was just not popular enough, as they kept discontinuing the colors I'd finally settle on. So I hacked it off and dyed it black. Oddly, both the red and the black look more natural on me than the blonde. Which makes me look grey and zombieish. And as I'm vegetarian and not too likely to eat anyone's brains, it's pretty lame to look as though I might be liable to.
You've collaborated with C.S.E. Cooney on a poem in Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties. Tell us about the experience?
I hope it's the first of many. I've only just a month or two ago met demoiselle Cooney via the internets, and will be meeting her in person at Readercon, where we shall be reading that poem at the launch, if all goes well. This poem was really an experiment, just to see whether, as we each have very different and distinctive styles, we were compatible enough to collaborate. It's a dialogue poem -- or, more accurately, a correspondence poem -- which explores what a witch's familiar and fetch might get up to once she's gone. We think it worked. Feedback always welcome!
The poems in Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties all consider, in fascinating ways, representations of domestic spaces. Would you tell us a little about your own domesticities, and where the magic of them resides for you? Cooking, cleaning, raising a child -- the ways in which these inform your writing are plain, but how does your writing inform them?
As you might guess from the way I address it, I have a bit of ambivalence toward domesticity. I loathe cleaning and I only like cooking on rare occasions -- say, if I have guests to feed, or a launch party to bake for -- and while I love raising Julian, the limitations it puts upon me do chafe sometimes. Travel is... difficult. Anyone who sees me at Readercon will probably get used to the spectacle of me answering my cell phone and running like a crazy running thing back to my room to put Julian back down to sleep. Mostly, though, I miss having time to write.
Up until we bought our house late last May, I'd been living in tiny whitewashed apartments (well, not tiny, but once you get three people and a bunch of books in there, the floor starts looking very small) right on the main streets of towns. As I'm one of those people who prefers to have a certain sort of environment to write in, I got pretty good at blocking out everything around me. Now we've gone a little crazy painting all our rooms vibrant colors and we're surrounded by wilderness, so that's quite a lot more atmospheric for me. The downside, of course, is I still have boxes unpacked and haven't really gotten a chance to see whether it helps the writing flow!
Do you sing, or play any instruments? Have you ever wanted to?
I used to sing. Not well, but it was fun. Then my singing voice decided it wanted to go and change itself while I wasn't looking, and I still don't know quite how to use it yet. I would love to learn the fiddle.
If you found yourself at a crossroads, on a cool night, beneath a cloud-steeped moon, with nothing but a knife in one hand and a pen in the other, and saw a stranger walking toward you with a pack on his back, a persimmon in one hand and a knife in the other, what would you do?
It'd be around that point that I realized I'd somehow fallen headlong into a ballad, and watch and wait and see what came of it. My level of apprehension would depend upon whose knife was bigger, and my level of patience would depend on whether a) he looked like he was going to be sharing that persimmon; and b) whether it was ripe. Unripe persimmons are like their own special circle of hell.
Back to Feature Table of Contents