Interview with Alethea Kontis

Alethea KontisAlethea Kontis’ story “The Giant and the Unicorn” appears in The Clockwork Jungle Book (Issue #11).  Her website is www.aletheakontis.com, and you can email her at alethea@apexdigest.com.

If you could talk to any author from the past, who would it be?

Roald Dahl and Lloyd Alexander. Roald Dahl died when I was fourteen. I wished I had sent him a fan letter, because BFG was–and still is–one of my favorite books. To make up for it I read everything about Dahl I could get my hands on–he became even more of an inspiration to me after his death. I stayed too timid to write fan letters or go meet my heroes until October of 2003, when SF author David Drake ordered me to contact my neighbor Andre Norton “because she has no idea what she means to the genre.” I will never EVER regret my correspondence and meetings with Miss Andre. However, I do regret–once I’d found that chutzpah–never writing to Lloyd Alexander and telling him what he meant to my formative years. Mr. Alexander died in 2007. If you have heroes, tell them so. Today. Doesn’t have to be poetic. Heck, not too long ago I Tweeted a fan letter to Diane Duane. And she tweeted back. J

And would you use a character to speak to that author, or yourself?

Me, of course! I am the most awesome of all my characters.

Have you ever wished for a particular character — or idea — to walk into your story?

Greeks have particular rules about wishing for things. Mostly, we don’t. It’s too dangerous. I wished for something once–wrote it down even, so it would have more power. Think “Monkey’s Paw,” people. You want to wish for something? Go on. I dare you. But I’m not responsible for what happens.

What piece of writerly advice do you wish someone had given you?

FORGET ABOUT WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. STOP TRYING TO MAKE EVERYBODY HAPPY. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. GO CRAZY. IT’S OKAY TO BE CRAZY. ENCOURAGED, EVEN.

I wish someone had told me this, in those exact words, in all caps, and then tattooed my cheek with a green glitter star so that I would remember it every time I looked in the mirror.

Did you ever want to write “just like” someone else?

Not just authors, but specific books from those authors: Meredith Ann Pierce (The Darkangel Trilogy), Sharon Shinn (Jovah’s Angel), Anne McCaffrey (The Harper Hall trilogy), Susan Cooper (Seaward), Dianna Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle, Witch Week), and Robin McKinley (Beauty, Deerskin, The Blue Sword).

Was there any book that made you say “I can do better than this!”?

My day job consists of buying books for a major wholesaler. I say that line every day.

Do you have favorite characters?

Oh, far too many to count. But my first love was George Cooper in Tamora Pierce’s Alanna of Trebond series. *sigh* He was the inspiration for the most memorable D&D character I ever played, and he’s the reason my screen name in certain venues (like YouTube) is still “Thieftess.”

Have you ever been disillusioned by a character or a book?

Because I started seriously writing so young, on some level I’ve always read books with an author’s eye. I knew that if something happened in a book that I didn’t like or didn’t agree with, it wasn’t the character’s fault — it was the author’s. I have been disillusioned by many authors…most specifically when they decide to kill off a character just because they can.

How do you explain what writing is like?

I’ve always said writing is like therapy. Or what I imagine therapy would be like if I’d ever gone. But I didn’t need to go, because I’ve always been a writer. See? My mother was one lucky woman.

How did writing a theme story work out?   Is it more complicated than not having to adhere to a theme — or less?

Fairy Tales and Fables are my bread and butter, so the theme was never a problem. Getting Beth Wodzinski to buy a Unicorn story? Much more of a gamble. Boo-yah!

Is there something you do that no one ever asks you about?

Every time I see a Buddha, I rub his belly for luck. I turn on music and dance around my house first thing in the morning. I put French fries on my hamburgers, because Andrew Smith did it in the fourth grade. I collect gargoyles. And I groan and wince every time I see the words “This film has been formatted to fit your screen.”

Particular favorites for books, movies, series, comics, blogs, etc.?

Today’s Favorites: I am currently reading Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars trilogy and Sharon Shinn’s Quatrain (which my friend gave me because she thought I looked like the girl on the cover). I recently got very sick and caught up on TV shows, my favorites of which have been “Castle”, “Lie to Me”, and “Psych.” Leanna Renee Hieber made me a mixed CD that I listened to all the way to Dragon*Con, and now I’m hunting down everything VNV Nation has ever done. I fell in love with The Dreamer online comic (www.thedreamercomic.com) — so much in love that I just did an interview with Lora Innes for Fantasy magazine. The last film I saw in theatres was Inglorious Basterds. Possibly Tarantino’s finest work to date. Blogs? Stephan Pastis and John Scalzi.

If you could talk to any author from the past, who would it be?

Roald Dahl and Lloyd Alexander. Roald Dahl died when I was fourteen. I wished I had sent him a fan letter, because BFG was–and still is–one of my favorite books. To make up for it I read everything about Dahl I could get my hands on–he became even more of an inspiration to me after his death. I stayed too timid to write fan letters or go meet my heroes until October of 2003, when SF author David Drake ordered me to contact my neighbor Andre Norton “because she has no idea what she means to the genre.” I will never EVER regret my correspondence and meetings with Miss Andre. However, I do regret–once I’d found that chutzpah–never writing to Lloyd Alexander and telling him what he meant to my formative years. Mr. Alexander died in 2007. If you have heroes, tell them so. Today. Doesn’t have to be poetic. Heck, not too long ago I Tweeted a fan letter to Diane Duane. And she tweeted back. J

And would you use a character to speak to that author, or yourself?

Me, of course! I am the most awesome of all my characters.

Have you ever wished for a particular character — or idea — to walk into your story?

Greeks have particular rules about wishing for things. Mostly, we don’t. It’s too dangerous. I wished for something once–wrote it down even, so it would have more power. Think “Monkey’s Paw,” people. You want to wish for something? Go on. I dare you. But I’m not responsible for what happens.

What piece of writerly advice do you wish someone had given you?

FORGET ABOUT WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. STOP TRYING TO MAKE EVERYBODY HAPPY. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. GO CRAZY. IT’S OKAY TO BE CRAZY. ENCOURAGED, EVEN.

I wish someone had told me this, in those exact words, in all caps, and then tattooed my cheek with a green glitter star so that I would remember it every time I looked in the mirror.

Did you ever want to write “just like” someone else?

Not just authors, but specific books from those authors: Meredith Ann Pierce (The Darkangel Trilogy), Sharon Shinn (Jovah’s Angel), Anne McCaffrey (The Harper Hall trilogy), Susan Cooper (Seaward), Dianna Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle, Witch Week), and Robin McKinley (Beauty, Deerskin, The Blue Sword).

Was there any book that made you say “I can do better than this!”?

My day job consists of buying books for a major wholesaler. I say that line every day.

Do you have favorite characters?

Oh, far too many to count. But my first love was George Cooper in Tamora Pierce’s Alanna of Trebond series. *sigh* He was the inspiration for the most memorable D&D character I ever played, and he’s the reason my screen name in certain venues (like YouTube) is still “Thieftess.”

Have you ever been disillusioned by a character or a book?

Because I started seriously writing so young, on some level I’ve always read books with an author’s eye. I knew that if something happened in a book that I didn’t like or didn’t agree with, it wasn’t the character’s fault — it was the author’s. I have been disillusioned by many authors…most specifically when they decide to kill off a character just because they can.

How do you explain what writing is like?

I’ve always said writing is like therapy. Or what I imagine therapy would be like if I’d ever gone. But I didn’t need to go, because I’ve always been a writer. See? My mother was one lucky woman.

How did writing a theme story work out? Is it more complicated than not having to adhere to a theme — or less?

Fairy Tales and Fables are my bread and butter, so the theme was never a problem. Getting Beth Wodzinski to buy a Unicorn story? Much more of a gamble. Boo-yah!

Is there something you do that no one ever asks you about?

Every time I see a Buddha, I rub his belly for luck. I turn on music and dance around my house first thing in the morning. I put French fries on my hamburgers, because Andrew Smith did it in the fourth grade. I collect gargoyles. And I groan and wince every time I see the words “This film has been formatted to fit your screen.”

Particular favorites for books, movies, series, comics, blogs, etc.?

Today’s Favorites: I am currently reading Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars trilogy and Sharon Shinn’s Quatrain (which my friend gave me because she thought I looked like the girl on the cover). I recently got very sick and caught up on TV shows, my favorites of which have been “Castle”, “Lie to Me”, and “Psych.” Leanna Renee Hieber made me a mixed CD that I listened to all the way to Dragon*Con, and now I’m hunting down everything VNV Nation has ever done. I fell in love with The Dreamer online comic (www.thedreamercomic.com) — so much in love that I just did an interview with Lora Innes for Fantasy magazine. The last film I saw in theatres was Inglorious Basterds. Possibly Tarantino’s finest work to date. Blogs? Stephan Pastis and John Scalzi.

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