Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Over Sixty People Interview Me!

Here is the interview with me, Kim Marie Ann Antieau! About sixty writers, editors, family members, and friends asked these questions. I didn’t think about the questions much before answering them. I just went down the list and wrote my answers. Even so, this took me days! It was a lot of fun.

By the way, if you asked me a question and I didn’t link to your correct website, just write to me and I can fix it. And if you asked me a question and it isn’t here, that doesn’t mean I don’t love you! It means I either never got it or I lost it. I lost about six questions (that I know about) but I was able to find them again. So just send the question along again and I’ll add it with my answer. All of this is probably far more than you ever wanted to know. I hope you have fun! Thanks to everyone for the fabulous questions.

Don't forget that I'm giving away books to thirteen people who leave comments anywhere on the blog through Tuesday night. On Wednesday I'll put all the names in a hat and pull out thirteen.

Happy reading!

Michael Bourret (my agent): When did you know you were a writer?

Kim Antieau (KA): Before I could write, I drew pictures to tell a story. Then for a few years, I wrote stories and drew. I won an art contest when I was in first grade. I remember thinking that I could be an artist or a writer when I grew up, but I figured I could make a living as a writer. Why would such a young child be thinking in those terms? I have no idea, especially since as an adult I’ve never made big decisions based on high-paying jobs. I have been a professional writer for a little over half my life, and I still have never made a living at it. Perhaps I should rethink all this and become an artist instead?

Julia Richardson (my editor): What's your favorite swear word?

KA: The ef word is definitely my favorite swear word. No other word in the English language feels as good to say when I am frustrated or amazed. I do often recall my third grade teacher, Miss Root, however, who said that it displayed more imagination, creativity, and class to swear in style without using curse words. So when she was frustrated, she would say something like, “Ooooh blueberry fudgesickles!” Or “blueberry muffins!” (She used other combinations, but I remember she liked them blueberries.) I appreciate her sentiment, and I do try to vary my swear word repertoire.

Robin Wasserman: If you could spend the day with a fictional character, who would it be and what would you do together?

KA: That’s a tough one. There are so many cool fictional characters. I’d love to hang out with Jane Eyre and find out where she got her backbone. I wouldn’t mind following Sissy around from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. She had herself some adventures. The Count of Monte Cristo. I’d like to find out how he survived. Oh and the Scarlet Pimpernel. I don’t like looking foolish, and he reveled in that and used it to his advantage. And Ripley from Alien. I’d definitely like to learn a thing or two from her on surviving. But I'd only like to meet her on Earth, where there aren't any of those lovely creatures she was always fighting with. And I’d love to meet Gloria, from my novel The Gaia Websters because she can heal people.

Alyson Noël: You are going to a desert island—for the next ten years—you can only bring one book—which one do you choose?

KA: One book? Oh geez. Probably if there was a book about all the flora on the island and their medicinal uses. That’s what I’d take.

Lara M. Zeises: If you could live inside any television show (past or present), what would it be or why?

KA: Hmmm. I really liked the sense of community in Northern Exposure, although I don’t like cold weather. I’d love to visit the world in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although I wouldn't want to stay too long. I like my feet planted on Mother Earth. I liked the town in Gilmore Girls, but I wouldn’t be the star, so would it really be that much fun?

Terri Clark: From one librarian to another, what's your favorite thing about working in a library and what's your least favorite thing?

KA: I now select books, so I’m not in the branches much. My absolute favorite thing about being a librarian is being with the public. I loved it! I loved helping people, finding what they needed. I loved working with teenagers especially. I loved the energy teenagers brought to a library. My least favorite thing was dealing with administration. I see myself as one of the true librarians! (How pompous is that?) I became a librarian to stand up for our intellectual freedom and to protect the civil rights of the people in my community. I have no patience for whimpy library administrations or boards who pander to the few people who complain about materials.

Judy Gregerson: How many Pulitzer Prize winning books you have read?

KA: I had no idea! I don’t usually notice when a book wins a prize, although I love the idea you have of reading X amount of Pulitzer Prize winning books in a year. I got my Masters in American Literature and before that I was an English Language major; I got weary of some of the standard “great” book lists. So many of these novels were written by men, about men. (Back in the day.) Plus many of them were boring! After college, I started reading as much popular fiction as I could, like science fiction and mystery and fiction from other countries, especially Latin American novels. Anyway, I just went and looked up the list of Pulitzer Prize winners. Here are my totals. Fiction: I’ve read 6. Dramas: I’ve seen or read 17. History winners: 2. Bios: zero. Poetry: 5. General non-fiction: 1.

Nancy Viau: Of all your characters, which one shares most of your personal traits?

KA: Mario says Gloria from The Gaia Websters is the most like me. That’s funny to me because I admire her the most of all my characters. (Although it’s difficult to pick which I admire most; I really admire Mercy, Nadira, and Ruby so much!) Gloria is very strong. She doesn’t suffer fools, and she doesn’t understand or really care about some of the social niceties. She’s a problem-solver. She’s also not very in touch with her feelings. She’s not mushy. But she’s extremely loyal and competent. I am a problem-solver. I am very loyal. I used to be very competent, not sure I am quite that way any more. And I have trouble with personal relationships. I go away and do my work for long periods of time and then when I put my head out the door again, I wonder where everyone has gone.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum: What is your secret vice?

KA: I’m not sure it’s so secret, but I watch TV. It feels like a vice because I don’t think it’s that good for me. I love stories. I hate commercials. We turn off our TV service several times a year for months at a time. But when I’m stressed, that’s how I zone out.

Charles de Lint: Have you ever met or seen a ghost?

KA: Not that I know of. I’ve had creepy feelings in places although I don't see anything that's strange. Also when I was in college, a my closet door fell off of its hinges when I was resting on my bed one afternoon. My roommate and I joked that we had a ghost or poltergeist in the place. That day I heard a “boom.” I got out of bed and saw immediately that the door was off its hinges. The weird thing is that for it to be off its hinges someone would have had to lift it up so that the acorn pin came up out of the hinge knuckles—it couldn’t have just slipped off; it wasn’t physically possible. That is the weirdest thing that has happened to me, and we were never able to explain it. I was alone in the apartment, by the way, which was the top floor/attic of an old house in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Cynthia Leitch-Smith: If you could change one thing about your apprenticeship (pre-publication, craft-building time as a beginning writer), what would it be and why?

KA: I don’t think I’d change anything I did. I wrote and I tried to get it published. Maybe I wouldn’t have concentrated so much on genre fiction because my work didn’t really fit in genre, so publishers often didn’t know what to do with it or how to categorize it. My writing is what Charles de Lint and Terri Windling call “mythic fiction.” When I was starting out it was too weird for mainstream but it wasn’t really straight science fiction or fantasy. I wish I could change how publishing is now. When I started out, once you got a book published, the first one, publishers stuck with you and helped you build an audience. But that has not happened with me and it doesn’t happen with many writers now. We’re expected to “go big” right away.

Melissa Walker: What songs would you definitely put on the soundtrack for Ruby's Imagine or what song would Ruby want on there?

KA: This was so much fun, Melissa! Thanks for asking. I'm not sure I can post these—I mean I hope I'm not violating anybody's rights. I bought all the albums and I'm linking to them. But if the artist doesn't want them here, I will take them down. I actually think the whole album Adieu False Heart could just be the soundtrack. But here's a playlist/soundtrack of songs I think Ruby liked.

"Adieu False Heart," Linda Rondstadt, Ann Savoy, Adieu False Heart

"Stomp Dance (Unity)," Robbie Robertson, Contact from the Underworld of Redboy

"White Flag" Dido, Life for Rent

"Come On In My Kitchen," Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings

"Kindhearted Woman Blues," Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings

"Damballah," Beau Jocque, The Best of Beau Jocque & the Zydeco Hi-Rollers

"Nonc Adam," Beau Jocque, The Real Louisiana

"Keep Going," Boozoo Bajou, Dust My Broom

"Rattlebone," Robbie Robertson, Contact from the Underworld of Redboy

"Unbound," Robbie Robertson, Contact from the Underworld of Redboy

"The Healer," John Lee Hooker, The Healer

Lisa McMann: Who is your best friend in the world and will you tell us a little about why you like that person? Also, does he/she have great hair?

KA: My best friend in the world is my husband, Mario Milosevic. What I liked about him when I first met him and what I still like about him is his sense of humor. He is the funniest person I know. And he thinks I’m the funniest person he knows. He’s also very eclectic in his interests. He isn’t macho. He is supremely comfortable in the company of women, and women and men are comfortable with him. My best girlfriend was Linda Ford. She died a year and a half ago. She was funny, too. She knew everything (and I mean everything). She would walk in the woods with me almost anytime, and like me, she hugged trees. I miss her very much. Ruby’s Imagine is dedicated to her.

April Lurie: What do you love about publishing? What do you hate about publishing?

KA: I love the process of getting a book published. I like when a book is first accepted for publication. Knock on wood, my editors usually ask for very little changes. I love looking at the copyedited pages with the little red marks. Although the red marks were a little stressful on Ruby’s Imagine. Ruby has her own way of speaking and the copyeditor wanted her to be consistent in how she spoke and Ruby just wasn’t. I love getting the galleys and seeing the almost-book. I usually love seeing the cover, although covers can be so problematic and I’ve hated a couple of mine (from way back). And then I like seeing the book itself. After it’s published, it’s out of my hands, so I don’t like that part. I just cross my fingers and hope people buy the book.

What do I hate about publishing? First, publishing is not very green, to put it mildly. It is not sustainable. I mean, they still use this archaic bizarre returns system in publishing. And nearly everyone just seems to accept this. Are you kidding me? What other industry does this? “Excuse me, but this shirt didn’t sell; cut off the sleeve and send it back to the manufacturing and throw the rest of the shirt out.” (If any readers are not familiar with returns, it's when the retailer strips the paperbacks of their covers and ships the covers back for credit. Then the stripped books are thrown out. Let’s hope most places at least recycle them.

I also hate how much writers are paid. Most fiction writers in this industry cannot make a living at writing. This is something hardly anyone will talk about! Every time I mention it, I can hear, see, smell the hackles rising. Think about it. Publishing is about these words writers put on paper. It is our art and/or our labor. Yet most of us don’t make a living! The editors make a living, the agents, the publishers, the printer, the cover artists, the people in marketing and sales. Not the writer. So everyone else is able to feed their families and pay their bills except the person who is doing the creating, the person who is doing the work. This is exploitive. It’s not that I don’t want the agents, editors, publishers, etc. to make a living at doing their work. No, that’s not the point. I honor and appreciate all the work they do, and I want them to have happy, fulfilling lives. I want the same for myself and my fellow writers.

Yes, some writers make a living. Reporters can make a living. Some nonfiction writers make a living. Screenwriters often can make a living and this is in no small part due to their union. I know some fiction writers who do make a living. These are people who usually write multiple books under various names—although not always. I got $7,500 for each of my first two novels, $10,000 for my third novel, Coyote Cowgirl. How does anyone live on $10,000 a year—and most writers don’t sell a book a year. No publisher is going to do any publicity or marketing for a novel they pay $10,000 for, even when the author ellicits a promise that the publisher won’t let the novel fall through the cracks. (Well, maybe some publishers, but I don't know any.) Nearly everyone in the industry seems to accept this standard of authorial poverty. Some will wax on about the free market and if you sell more widgets you’ll get more money next time. First, the free market is crap. Secondly, if the publishers paid more money for a book, they’d be forced to pay attention to it and actually do some planning and marketing on each and every title they buy and then the so-called widgets would sell. Yes, less books probably would be bought by publishers, but then the writers who did sell books could actually make a living.

Many writers have a spouse who supports them so that they can take the time to write. What this essentially means is that rich people, or at least well-off middle-class people, are the ones who are publishing much of the fiction. So we’re getting a pretty skewed look at our world. Pay writers decently, and different classes and type of people will be able to write their stories and get them out to the public.

There needs to be a revolution in publishing. The present mode is not sustainable for the environment and it’s not sustainable for the writers—at least not those of us who need to eat, pay our rent and electricity bills. And yes, writers need to stand up and demand more. We are definitely part of the problem.

Debbie Reed Fischer: Do you have a personal experience that made it into your books? If so, what was it?

KA: Hmmm. I try not to fictionalize my life. I like to write to get away from parts of my life, plus I have the blog to write about myself! Like most writers, bits and pieces of my life do get into my books. There were eating issues in my family and some of those made their way into Mercy, Unbound. In The Blue Tail, a YA novel I just finished, Serena Blue gets beaten up by her boyfriend one night at a party. That happened to me at the end of my senior year. Not a high point of my life, and I still remember what I heard and felt thata night. Her experience parallels my own pretty closely.

Eric Luper: You have 30 days to squander $1 million. You cannot pay off debt, give it to anyone or sock it away in a rainy day fund. All the money has to be gone in a month. How do you spend it?

KA: I’d buy land and a house. Or some land and two houses. Live in the Southwest part of the year and live part of the year in the Pacific Northwest.

Linda Joy Singleton: What's the strangest thing you ever did for research on a story?

KA: Hmmm. I’ve done lots of things for research. Maybe the strangest was when I went to a Fish and Wildlife animal forensics lab in Ashland, Oregon, when I was doing research on eagle deaths in Oregon. I got a tour. Interviewed the guy in charge. Watched them start a necropsy on a gold eagle. I saw a whole room filled with items confiscated from people coming into the country. Boots made out of leather from endangered animals, things like that.

Teri Brown: Who is your favorite fictional crush and why?

KA: I do like Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. I love honorable men. Never been attracted to "bad boys." And Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies is pretty cool. I would have run off with Benjamin from The Gaia Websters. And any of the Benjamins in The Jigsaw Woman. (I usually have someone named Benjamin in my novels. No reason. I just started doing it and now I keep doing it. I think I’ve only known one Benjamin in “real” life and he was a jerk.)

D. Anne: If you could interview one fictional character, or one writer who is no longer alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?

KA: Just one? Emily Dickinson. And then Walt Whitman. I think I’d just like to spend time with Emily. I want to walk through the fields of tall grass and wildflowers with her and her dog, her wild red hair flowing behind her. I’d like to sit with her and watch her write. And then maybe, maybe, I'd pick one poem and ask her if she could tell me what it meant to her.

Michelle Antieau: If you could only keep or have one of your five senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch or taste)—which would you choose and why?

KA: As you know, I lost my sense of smell for almost fifteen years, and now I only have it part of the time. I LOVE being able to smell. It makes life much more sensuous. My sense of taste is still pretty poor. But I think I would probably keep my sight.

Joanne Powell Colbert: Which Old Mermaids are you the most like?

KA: I’m probably the most like Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid because she struggles with her fears. I’m also a bit like Sister Ursula Divine Mermaid because she likes to wander around the wilderness a lot, and she can be a bit cranky.

Alice Hoffman: What was your favorite book when you were twelve?

KA: Probably The Black Stallion and The Island Stallion Races. Although my horse phase was fading about that time. But I loved all the Walter Farley books.

Jo Knowles: How did you learn about your first book sale? Can you describe "the call"?

KA: Guess what, Jo? I have no specific memory of it! My agent must have called me, but I don’t remember. I do remember the call when Coyote Cowgirl sold, but that’s probably because it was Winter Solstice and I was making cookies. But other than that, I don’t remember specifically any calls.

Stephanie Hale: If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would it be?

KA: God.

John McNally: What fictional character would you like to bring to life to meet? Explain.

KA: Since this question is asked more than once in this interview, I can answer it more than once, right? I’d like to meet some of my own characters. I’d like to meet all the Old Mermaids and spend time with them, maybe for the rest of my life—as long as Mario could come, too. The Old Mermaids welcome all travellers. They are more than survivors, they are thrivers. They are magical, mystical, earthy, wild, and homey. Yep, I’d love to hang out with them.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted: Which character that you've created do you most admire and why?

KA: Well, I already mentioned how much I admire Gloria from The Gaia Websters and the Old Mermaids. I also think Nadira from Broken Moon is amazing. She lives in a patriarchal culture where she isn’t “worth” much. She’s been mutilated and raped. But she survives and when her brother is kidnapped, she does everything she can do to find him. I admire action even in the face of fear. Same with Ruby in Ruby’s Imagine. She is a beautiful person. She hears the voices of the world, the visible and the invisible. She gets little encouragement from her family—to put it mildly—yet she doesn’t curl up and die: She becomes more and more herself. I think that’s the challenge of all of us. We need to fill up with ourselves, to be full of ourselves, not full of what big business is trying to sell us or what the culture says we should be. We need to figure out who we are and then we need to be that! Gloria, Nadira, and Ruby are full of themselves!

Tera Lynn Childs: If you could only read one book (over and over) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

KA: That’s a really tough one. I guess if I could only read one, I’d write it. And it would be really long, ongoing, and full of stories. Probably about the Old Mermaids. How’s that for a dodge? If I couldn’t do that, I guess I’d find the biggest fairy tale book in the world and read that.

Lisa Yee: What's the oldest thing in your refrigerator, and why?

KA: I read this question in the middle of the night, and I laughed outloud. When I told my husband your question, he said, “If the answer is that celery, we better throw it out.” So I just got up and looked. The oldest thing in the fridge is a jar of sesame seeds I bought from a friend of mine last summer when she was moving from Washington state to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I keep thinking I’m going to make tahini or something with them and I never have. Probably time to toss them.

Jimmy Baca Santiago: What do you think about literary agents?

KA: I have had an agent and I haven’t had an agent. When I didn’t have an agent, I spent so much of my time looking for markets for my books, and I didn’t like doing that. I like writing. I want someone else to do the marketing for me! I’ve had agents I really liked and I’ve had problems with agents. (I've had five.) My biggest problem with agents is that they nearly always tell me to stop writing so much. Also, I don’t understand why an agent has to like a book before s/he sends it out. I see agents as the key to get the publisher’s door open so we can slip my book through and have the editor read it; then when I get a contract, agents are extra eyes to look the contract over. Whether they like a book or not seems superfluous to the process.

Also, agents work for the writers, not the other way around. We’re paying them 15% for their expertise. But writers often kiss up to their agents and/or are afraid of them. They’ve got the relationship half-ass backwards. I really like my current agent, Michael Bourret. I see our relationship as collaborative, but I’ve got the final say. It’s my work and my life. We do not agree on everything, and I get impatient with how long things take, but he understands that. Michael gets my writing and loves it and that is different from some of the other experiences I have had with agents. He understands my world view and appreciates it. He's a great guy; I am fortunate.

I do know that privately, most writers complain about their agents. The biggest complaint I hear is that agents act as editors now and that feels like one more hurdle to jump over before the person with the contract and the check gets to see the manuscript. Our ultimate goal is to get the books out to the readers, and sometimes it just seems to take forever for that to happen. The other complaint I hear is the same one I have, that I mentioned above. Why does the agent have to like the book in order to send it out? Reading it, understanding it, knowing what it's about is one thing; but why do they have to like it?

Lisa Schroeder: How do you decide which books to order for your library?

KA: I read reviews. I look at pre-pub reports. I love hearing from patrons about what they want, but I try very hard to get what the people who aren’t speaking up want, too; in other words, most people don’t tell the library what they want, so I try to figure it out by looking at community trends, circulation stats on particular books, etc. I have a particular budget, depending upon what area I’m selecting, and that determines how many titles I can get, really. I’ve been doing selection for about twenty years, and I’ve never figured out a science to it.

Mario Milosevic: If you were asked to send a message to aliens on another planet, what would you say?

KA: Barada nikto.

Melissa Senate: Ruby's Imagine takes place in New Orleans, where a fortune teller on the streets of the French Quarter once told me something that totally changed my life (for the much better and for only five bucks)! That city will always be a place of magic and mystery for me. What does New Orleans mean for the characters of Ruby's Imagine (and for you) before, during and after Hurricane Katrina?

KA: I was born in Louisiana. My folks were from Michigan, but my dad was in the service at the time, stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base. Although we left when I was very young and I don’t remember anything about it, I have a soft spot in my heart for Louisiana. And New Orleans seems to be a place where the Puritans never found a foothold like they did in the rest of the country. In many ways, New Orleans was like the soul of this country. For Ruby, it’s where she lives because her parents were killed in a car crash, so she has to live there with her grandmother. She has fond memories of the bayous, but she loves New Orleans, too. She loves the natural parts of it, when she can find those parts, and she loves the people. It is home to her. Ruby discovers her true strength during Hurricane Katrina. After Katrina, Ruby wants to help put it all back together. For me, I see Hurricane Katrina as an example of what can happen when people think of Nature as a commodity, as something they can constantly strip, pave under, suck the life out of. Everything failed in New Orleans because the government and people ignored the environment, tried to bend it to their will, instead of figuring out to go with the flow of Nature and be a part of the environment. I was ashamed of our government and how the poor people in New Orleans were treated before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. I also think it is just an example of things to come if global warming is not slowed.

Tara Altebrandoe: Rollercoasters. Yay or nay? And what does your answer say about you?

KA: Nay. It says I’m chicken, that’s what it says!

Karen Shinsky: What one person has influenced you the most or whom you have admired?

KA: I really admired my best friend Linda. She was comfortable in the world, for the most part, especially the natural world, and she knew so much about it. Same with Dad. He knows so much about so many things, especially Nature. Mom and Dad both influenced my writing. Dad read to us at night. Mom encouraged me to keep writing when I was very young, and she told me to save what I wrote for future generations! I am a pretty independent thinker, but my family, friends, and my experiences have no doubt shaped who I am now. It's difficult to pick one person! For the last 27 years, Mario has had the most influence on my life. So I'd probably have to pick him as the one, and as the one person I admire the most. He is my sweetheart, and he's just a great person. A good man.

Mary E. Pearson: What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in high school?

KA: I don’t know if it was so much embarrassing as humiliating. I broke up with my high school sweetheart my last year of school, in the last semester. He was co-captain of the football team (no big deal; it wasn’t a very good football team). I broke up with him to go out with his friend, the other co-captain. And then I broke up with that guy, too. My HS sweetheart was well-loved, so I was considered the bad guy by the rest of the school. (It was a small school.) And the boys were the worst. I’d go in the cafeteria and walk by boys sitting on the stage and they’d whisper things like “bitch.” You know, high school juvenile crap. Then I went to a party one night. The second boy I’d broken up with was there with some of his friends. They were mumbling stuff about me. I walked up to them to talk to them, trying to be the “bigger” person, and they poured a glass of beer over my head. I ran crying from the garage where the party was and into the night. The host of the party, a really sweet girl, went into the night and found me, brought me back to the house, and washed me up. She was so kind and gentle. (I had had a crush on her when we were very young. I think her house was the first place I had a sleepover.) Anyway, she was very kind and the boys were jerks. After graduation, some of them apologized to me.

Niki Burnham: Who's your favorite fictional character?

KA: Oooh. I get to answer this again. Right this second my favorite fictional character is Frank Pembleton, from Homicide: Life on the Streets. What I liked about Pembleton was the he was great in his job, and he always did the right thing. And let’s face it, he was gorgeous.

Sara Zarr: What's the first thing you do most mornings and the last thing you do most nights?

KA: I get up and pee. What can I say? I try to meditate. Sometimes that means I stay in bed and close my eyes and try not to fall back to sleep. Sometimes I get up and sit on the couch and meditate. Oh wait, before all that, though, I look outside to see what the day is like. Then I check the weather on my dash on the computer and check for messages. Last thing I do at night is kiss my husband and tell him I love him.

Chris Crutcher: Who killed President Kennedy?

KA: The grassy troll.

Jordan Sonnenblick: You seem to have a huge sense of adventure. Why do you write—as opposed to, say, being a cowgirl or a cliff-diver?

KA: I’m not sure why I write instead of doing something else. I was good at it, and I didn’t want to be stuck in an office all day. I was going to be a Vista volunteer. A lawyer. A biologist. I had always been a writer, so I just kept doing it! I love stories. I love people who write and read stories. I make stuff up and I don't get in trouble for it. Most of the time.That’s pretty cool.

Marissa Doyle: If you could choose anywhere in the world to live for a year and then write a book set in that place, where would you choose to live? Why?

KA: I love the Southwest. I’d love to live in New Mexico for a year. I’ve already written several books about the Southwest, so I could write even more! It might be fun to live in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island for a year. Although I suppose fun is the wrong word. New Zealand. Tahiti. Okay, I can’t decide.

Annabel and Elisabeth: We were wondering if you have ever used positive thinking or visualization to help achieve a goal, whether it is in writing, or maybe doing something completely outside the realm of work.

KA: I use positive thinking all the time. And I visualize, especially for healing purposes. I don’t generally use it for my work. However, I’m not one of these people who thinks I have to think good thoughts all the time. That’s just crazy. In a real sense, actually. At least for someone like me. I don’t pretend that things are all good because lots of times they aren’t. I try to find the truth, see the truth, and then chose the action. Wallowing in horror isn’t helpful either. We don’t have the ability to respond (responsibility) if we’re too depressed to do anything. What I try to do is be in the now, whatever that now is. I’m not always successful at doing that.

Rachel Cohn: Turn to page 86 of your novel and read through it. Do you remember what you were doing the day you wrote that section, and did anything about that day influence what you wrote?

KA: So, Rachel, I went to my box of books and I pulled out Coyote Cowgirl. I turned to page 86. It was blank. I thought that was very Zen! So I don't remember what I was thinking or doing then, but I LOVED writing Coyote Cowgirl. I didn't have one minute of angst with that book. It was a blast! And I still miss Crane, the talking crystal skull.

Julia Moberg: How does being a Librarian influence your writing life? And vice versa.

KA: Being a librarian helps me buy groceries so I can be a writer! I love libraries. I love public service. I love working for the public good. Generally speaking, good librarians and good writers understand the issues of Intellectual freedom, so I suppose I’m a double-advocate for intellectual freedom.

Blake Nelson: When you were 16 what did you think you'd be when you grew up and how did you think you would dress?

KA: I think when I was sixteen I was planning to be a lawyer. I don’t think I thought about how I’d dress! I was probably wearing mini-skirts then because we couldn’t wear slacks in school. As soon as they changed the dress code, I was in jeans and sweaters.

Samantha Schutz: What is the first piece of creative writing that you remember doing? How old were you? What was it about? What sort of reaction did it get it (if you showed anyone)?

KA: My first creative writing was in the form of pictures. I drew a story. It was about a rabbit, I think. As soon as I could write, I started writing. The first story I really remember writing is Lily Goes to Fairyland. I still have it. I wrote it in pencil. My mom told me I should write in pen so that it would last longer. So I wrote over the pencil in pen. I guess that’s the reason it still exists! It was about a girl who was frustrated with her parents and she wandered away from home. She went through the wrong door and kept ending up in these different worlds.

Celise Downs: If you had a dance step named after you, what would it be called?

KA: The Goddess Slide.

Jennifer Ziegler: What are you doing to plan for the zombie invasion?

KA: I’m reading Miss Manners’ Etiquette for Eating With Zombies. It has a great intro on what to do so that you don’t become zombie lunch. It’s all about knowing how and when to grunt and avoid eye contact or initiate eye contact. You can’t seem afraid, kind of like with bears and dogs.

Laura Wiess: I'd love to hear more about the Truth-Telling Feasts. Have you ever hosted or attended one in real life, and if so, did most of the guests feel comfortable enough to participate in sharing private truths?

KA: Yes, I’ve had at least one truth-telling feast at our house, and when I’ve done book talks at the library for Coyote Cowgirl we almost always have a truth-telling feast. It is so much fun! There is something about shared food that is so sustaining. I have a lot of food sensitivities, so eating is often stressful and problematic. All the food in the truth-telling feast is food I can eat, so I relax during these feasts. I can’t actually remember if any of us said out loud our private truths. The biggest truth was that we came together as a kind of mini-community, at least for a while.

Brent Hartinger: Ben or Matt?

KA: Matt, of course.

Dia Calhoun: What YA female character would you say is most likely to grow up to be the first woman on Mars?

KA: I have no idea! I’m sitting here and can’t think of anyone from the fictional world. Lots of real girls, of course. Maybe I can't think of anyone because I haven't read much fiction lately. I don’t read fiction when I’m writing and since I’m writing most of the time now, I’m not reading fiction. I just thought of Jamie from Big Fat Manifesto. I bet she could get to Mars first if she had a hankering to do so.

Emma Dryden: If money and talent were no object, what job or career would you choose other than the one you're currently doing?

KA: I would have a sanctuary where I would take care of the land, where those who are in need of temporary respite could come and rest and find strength again before they continued on their way. That's what I'd do!

Will Shetterly: Who inspires you?

KA: Kind people inspire me. I’m tired of smartass cynicism. I admire people who work to make the world easier for others instead of just sitting around wringing their hands and saying, “What do I do? What do I do?” I just want to scream, “Do something!” My father inspires me. He’s a good man. He’s always taken care of his family. He was a teacher and then a principal. He worked in the summers as a carpenter. I learned from my parents that money was not everything. Instead, it was how we lived our lives. My father just walks through any crap that happens in his life. Things might get hard, but he deals with it. I wish I was more like that. When terrible things happen in my life, I want to curl into a ball and never get up. He may feel like that, too, but he gets up, he keeps going.

He’s someone you can count on, too. I remember one Sunday we were all at Pat’s restaurant in Brighton, Michigan, when I was a kid. We went there often after church for coffee and donuts. (Chocolate milk for us kids.) This woman burst into the restaurant and said, “My husband’s going to kill me. I need to get to the police. Can someone take me?” It was a small restaurant. Not a lot of people there. Several men sat at the counter, including my father. None of the men moved, except my dad. He left us there and took the woman to the police post a couple miles away. When he returned, he sat at the counter with the men again, talking. I remember he looked afraid. He looked afraid when he left the restaurant with the woman, and he looked afraid but relieved when he came back. I had rarely (if ever) seen my father afraid. I remember thinking how amazing that was that he did what was right even though he was afraid. A great lesson for a kid.

Emma Bull: What was your favorite place to daydream in when you were a kid, and why?

KA: The woods around our house. We lived out in the country. I was definitely a wild child. I was outside a lot—barefoot most of the time. Sometimes I wandered around the woods across the dirt road from our house, and sometimes I was in the woods that made up our back yard. I called these woods the Lullaby Forest. I often climbed up into the Lullaby Tree, and I sat there for hours, singing, and talking to the trees and the people and creatures in my “imaginary” world. I loved it!

Janet Lee Carey: What was your biggest writing hurdle? How did you leap over it?

KA: About twenty-two years ago, I got really sick. I had trouble reading and writing. The words on the page would wiggle, and I thought I was going to die every second of the day. It was a year long anxiety attack caused by exposure to various toxins. Just awful. I thought I’d have to give up writing. So I decided to go back to school and get a degree that would help me. (I had a B.S. and an M.A. in American Lit.) I was going to go to business school, but I couldn’t do it. I ended up getting my Master of Library Science degree. I didn’t write for a few years, but eventually I started getting better, and the stories were waiting for me and I began writing again. So I guess I didn’t so much leap over it as get on with my life until things changed, and I felt better.

Lorie Ann Grover: Who do you think is the hottest male character in YA lit?

KA: Well, since I’m old enough to be any teen’s mother, I don’t think of characters that way! So I don’t know what to tell you.

David Levithan: What book (besides your own) do you think best captures the way you look at the world?

KA: Well, the title Even Cowgirls Get the Blues would be the title of my life if Tom Robbins hadn’t already used it. Probably any book which speaks of our connection with Nature—or rather any book which speaks about our existence as a part of Nature. This crazy consumption in the West is ruining us and the planet. When I read An Unspoken Hunger by Terry Tempest William I felt like she was my soul sister writing my feelings and thoughts as well as her own. Also Tom Cowan’s Yearning for the Wind. I re-read Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin and the Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau often, so there’s something in those books which speak to me. Maybe it's because I believe all of life is a kind of pilgrimage, too.

Patrick Olson: Which came first? The chicken or the egg.

KA: The question about which came first came first.

Camille Antieau-Olson: What is your favorite tree? Why?

KA: I love, love, love trees! In the Northwest, I LOVE the old Doug firs. Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! The things they could tell us. I miss the big old deciduous trees from my childhood in Michigan. I looked forward to fall every year just to see what the maples would look like on Maple Road. Yum. But probably my favorite trees are oak trees. You look at them and there is no doubt they are druids, that faeries reside there, as well as all kinds of bugs, birds, squirrels and more. I try to hug a tree every day and most often it’s the big old oak tree by our library here in town.

Lloyd Antieau: Can a person be a liberal conservative and if so, do they have to be Republican? Can a person be a conservative liberal and if so, do they have to be Democrat? And how would we tell the difference?

KA: Yes. No. Yes. No. I have no idea. Or yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Ideas I have none.

Joelle Anthony: What do you read when you travel?

KA: For a long time, I took far too many books that I never read, usually something non-fiction. Now I take just one book and a few magazeines, most often Parabola, Shambhala Sun, Gastronomica, and/or Archaeology.

Jane Yolen: Do you enjoy writing or is it a bloodletting? Neither answer is wrong, of course. I am just curious.

KA: I enjoy writing. Love it, love it, love it. Fiction writing is just a blast. Nonfiction is a bit harder for me. I like nonfiction if I’m writing about myself and what I think; otherwise, it’s difficult for me. I like making stuff up, so that’s why I lean more toward fiction writing.

Anjali Banerjee: What's your next book?

KA: I don’t know what my next book is. I’m taking a break right now. I just finished two YA novels, The Blue Tail and My Little Angel. I need to rewrite My Little Angel. Then I’m not sure yet. I might finish the second Church of the Old Mermaid book, The Old Mermaid Sanctuary or the next COTOM book, The Old Mermaid. I’m also 150 pages into a new adult book, I, Assassin, but I’m not happy with the first 150 pages, so I may throw them out completely. We’ll see who taps me on the shoulder and asks me to tell their story. Right now I’m having fun hanging out at the Old Mermaid Sanctuary and seeing what the Old Mermaids are up to.

Kathleen Antieau: What was/is your favorite Soap Opera?

KA: Probably the soap opera I loved the most was Dark Shadows. Remember that? I’d run home to watch it. I’ve seen it as an adult and it’s pretty bad, but boy, was it fun to see something like that on TV back then. I saw the very first episode of All My Children and One Life to Live. I actually remember the beginning of those soaps; I have no idea why! I liked All My Children even though there was no one on there who was like me. I really liked One Life to Live because they did stories from real life. Like drug addiction. I thought that was a great storytline, back in the day. Also, someone was “passing” for white on that show. (It started in 1968.) Plus, remember when Karen Wolek (played by Judith Light) was married to a doctor but working as a prostitute and she admitted to it all on the witness stand? I still remember that. (Why do we remember these kinds of things?) She was so good. I liked General Hospital when Luke and Laura were on. Now the soaps seem so much about serial killers and mobsters, so I don't watch much. I don’t care about that kind of stuff. So yeah, Dark Shadows was my fave.

Mitali Perkins: I'm a firm believer in no apartheid when it comes to storytelling, but how would you respond to that overly politically correct person who mutters something like, "SHE'S neither Pakistani, poor, nor Muslim—how could SHE write Broken Moon?"

KA: I think that as long as a writer is respectful to the culture and people she’s writing about, she can write whatever she wants. I think it’s funny when people say, “Oh, I’m from such and such a place and that could NEVER happen.” Are you kidding me? We hear news stories about people and places every day where we say that could never happen and yet it did! People get too hung up on details. I remember I wrote a story once about an artist living in New York. They had a party and they served hot hors d'oeuvres. It was one line in the story. A friend of mine who was an artist said that artists in New York would never ever serrve hot hors d'oeuvres, only cold hors d'oeuvres. She just didn’t believe it. Now there may have been many things wrong with this particular story, but whether an artist somewhere in New York would serve hot hors d'oeuvres or not was not one of the problems.

I have never been a woman sewn together from the parts of three other women but I wrote about it in The Jigsaw Woman. Never been an amnesiac healer, but I wrote about her in The Gaia Websters. I have been a teen in the Midwest, but I was never sent off to an eating disorder clinic in New Mexico, but I wrote about such a teen in Mercy, Unbound. Never had a grandmother who may have been a mermaid (that I know of) but I wrote about that in The Blue Tail. I never had a brother who was kidnapped to be used as a camel jockey, but if I had, I hope I would have been as strong and brave as Nadira was in Broken Moon.

Michelle Knudsen: What was your favorite childhood breakfast cereal, and what is your favorite as an adult?

KA: I loved Wheaties, rice crispies, grapes nuts, and raisin bran. I loved reading the cereal boxes while I ate. Sometimes shredded wheat. I don’t eat cereal any more. I’m a gluten-free dairy-free gal and that doesn’t lend itself to much cereal eating. I’d love to have some raisin bran again. Mmm-mmm.

R.A. Nelson: Of all your goals and dreams, which one terrifies you the most?

KA: I don’t think any of them terrify me. Life often terrifies me! Maybe it terrifies me that I won’t succeed. But I haven’t succeeded at so many things and I’ve survived failing so many times, so I guess it’ll be all right. My goals and dreams remain quite simple. I’d like to be healthy, safe, and happy, living a life of meaning and purpose with my husband, my family, and my community. And then if I could have land to caretake, maybe create a kind of sanctuary where people can come, that would be icing on a delicious cake!



Anonymous said...

Kim, that was really fun! Gosh, I don't think I even know sixty people to ask me questions. I especially loved your story about your father in the doughnut shop. It made me all teary.


Kim Antieau said...

Thanks, Joelle! It was fun. I didn't know 60 people either. I asked people who I thought were interesting to ask me a question. And almost everyone kindly obliged!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

That is very kind of everyone to ask a question. I loved the interview though. SO LONG, but it was great, and such a neat idea. :)


Kim Antieau said...

Thanks, Lauren. It is indeed long! It took me days to write, so I can imagine it takes a long time to read. We thought about putting it up in two parts, but by last night midnight, I was ready to move on to other things. People can always come and snack on the interview. It ain't goin' anywhere.

Alyson Noel said...

Hi Kim-
This was such a great idea- and your answer to my question was very practical!

Robert said...


I enjoyed the entire interview, but especially enjoyed your ringing defense of librarians. I have two good friends (who both got masters in library science at UofA) whose jobs in our local high school district are now threatened.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Kim! This turned out amazing!
-Nancy Viau

Anonymous said...

WOW!That was epic!I also got in a good cry. Thanks
I Love You!

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