If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
If I could cook dinner for any author, I’d cook for Albert Einstein. I’d slow cook a couple of racks of St. Louis style ribs, I’d make my own rub and my own sauce to finish off those ribs. I’d make my mother’s mustard/egg potato salad and roast some asparagus. For dessert I’d make a tart Granny Smith apple pie, which is the first pie my grandmother taught me. I’d whip some cream for the topping. And we’d either have Earl Grey Supreme iced tea or some Peet’s Sumatra coffee.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
Nothing really scares me about the whole writing process. I can move left brain to right brain activities pretty quickly. And, if I’m not writing I’m concentrating on the business of writing. Sending out poems or manuscripts, updating my websites, editing. That is my rule. I have to be doing one or the other but never nothing. If I fear I’ve run out of ideas to write about well then I certainly can submit and visa versa. Once I’m in either sphere then either creativity or process creeps back in so that I am always in a state of forward motion with my writing career.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Margaret Atwood is my biggest author crush. I love how she weaves different writing worlds together seamlessly. Science fiction (my first love) and poetry (my true love). She believes in her readers, is fearless in the subjects she tackles and how she writes them. Her writing is layered perfection. Quirky.
What books are on your nightstand?
The Army of Darkness, Smoke, Shadow, and Raven, who appeared as wee black kittens underneath my office window on Halloween, control what is on my nightstand. There are no books on my nightstand; only a sleeping device and its requisite accessories. And a light. Finally, there is a facedown remote (see cats) for my bed.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
My very favorite punctuation mark is the pipe | . It is a variable symbol, depending on what you are doing or saying and is used in mathematics, computing, and typography. It allows me to have several layered tropes within a poem. Some might read it as an end stop like a period, or a pause like a comma, or for the mathematically inclined the placement of the pipe might read as conditional or as a variable. It allows people to enter the poem in a variety of ways.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
Sadly, I was that geeky girl who read everything she was supposed to read in high school and then a bunch more that she wasn’t supposed to read at all. I was the girl reading the dictionary for fun. I was the girl ecstatic to miss gym, in order to read.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following inanimate object(s) that have sustained and inspired me over the years while this book took shape:
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Aspiring writers should take advice from these words uttered by Mathesar from the film Galaxy Quest “never give up, never surrender.” Writing is all about learning the craft which means trying a zillion different things and learning by them. You won’t know if you don’t try. Go outside your normal routine, try a short line, a long line, a fractalated poem. It’s about getting muscle memory in your brain. It’s about taking chances. Never giving in, even in the face of negative feedback from critique groups or a mountain of rejections. It’s about honing your craft and then putting it out there.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing both energizes and exhausts me. If I am in the writing zone, nothing else matters and sleep is for the weak. Though, sleep does eventually have to catch up.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Writing is a business. Writers need to act like that. Go to the job, do the work, do some extra, have the correct equipment/tools to do the job.
Common traps for aspiring writers are:
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My Kryptonite is research. I would love nothing more than to research well anything, everything, the tangents I can go off on when looking up something particular, the further dive for more information, better details.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Reader’s block, is an interesting question. I find it harder to read after cataract surgery. I have to have lots of light, dark enough print. Sometimes it's exhausting to find the pinnacle way to read. Still I manage just fine, it’s just more time consuming.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Sure a person could be a writer if they don’t have strong emotions. Their work will come out fluffy and one dimensional but there are plenty of markets for that, it’s just not something I’d personally like to read or to write.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
When I first started writing my friends were 75% from tech and 25% authors and artists. Now that I’ve been writing for ~20 years my friends are 75% authors and artists and 25% tech. Author friends include poets, essayists, fiction, science fiction, fantasy, murder mystery, noir, script writers, and musicians. This breadth of writer friends bleeds into my work all the time, it affords me opportunities to have someone to read and comment on what I am writing and to offer up suggestions or kudos. And, by reading their work I learn by what they are doing. I can ask why they did a particular thing like their line breaks or or why they didn’t make the poem into a short fiction.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
The intertwining of life and death, fairy tales, math and science, dementia and alcoholism, abuse, murder/noir myteries. Each of my books stand on its own.Within each book there is ultimately a thread connecting the books so that they could have well gone into another, different book.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my first book didn’t change my writing process. Publishing my 5th book I began to see conjure whole books published rather than each poem published. I began slowing down to figure the arc. Still writing what needs to be written but also visioning how it fits into the next book(s).
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
No doubt about it the best money I ever spent as a writer was to get my MFA. For the most part I have a poem in my head, title, form, words when I go to write it. Going to Grad School taught me how to write the smaller poem, the one not formed in my head. It taught me to read my poetry out loud and it taught me form. My second best thing I ever spent money on is residency fees to get a residency. Residencies freed me up to organize without interruption my manuscripts that are floating in my head.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
This will be a very unpopular answer. Originally, I never liked Mary Oliver. To me her work was so quiet. Too quiet. It made me impatient. I hated that everyone insisted she was the one author I was missing out on. I tried and tried and tried. So many people gifted me her books. People I love and respect. Eventually, though, the books she wrote after her partner died resonated with me and I was able to grok Mary Oliver.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was in 7th grade my mother drove by and caught me smoking cigarettes on the corner with my girlfriends. She rolled down her window and said “do you really think that that is the smart thing to do, to smoke?” She rolled up her window, drove home and never said another word to me about it. It was in that instant when I realized a-my mother was right, it wasn’t a smart thing to do and b-my mother used words to get the action she wanted. I never smoked again.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I would love to say China Mieville’s The City and the City because it is vastly underappreciated but it receives a lot of press and book groups seem to love to discuss it. I love it because it's both literary and science fiction and the two don’t often collide. That said the book I come back to and re-read, is Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy, it’s philosophical, it’s funny, it's charming.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
You don’t get to choose a spirit animal any more than you get to choose a cat, they just show up. Hawk. It has been guiding me my whole life.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I owe the real people I’ve based poems on a real truth. Telling their story but edited, perhaps, to keep the heart of the story real.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Currently I have 1 unpublished, completed manuscripts that I am seeking a publisher for. I also have 2 half-finished books, possibly they are really chapbooks that I am still working on.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’ll see it when I believe it.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Readings. Readings. Readings. But also workshops and networking. Talking about it on social media.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Staying in that POV and then double checking with my partner to be sure that my character is correct.
What did you edit out of this book?
The odd poems that didn’t really work. The ones I still like but couldn’t connect them internally.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
As a poet I actually do have a job that makes money. I started out in tech a forever ago. In 1997 I founded, with my now ex-husband, Deer Run Associates, Inc. which provides Computer Forensic investigations and Information Security consulting services to select clients across the United States, and throughout the world working with law enforcement and commercial organizations on some of the largest and most high-profile cybercrime cases in recent years.
We Support Indie Bookshops