Interview with Caitlyn Paxson

Caitlyn Paxson’s story, The Carnivale of Abandoned Tales, appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Shimmer.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STORY:

Where did the idea come from?
The story was inspired by a painting by Johanna Ost. She depicted Snow White as a tattooed lady, surrounded by the seven dwarfs, all in circus gear. It was a little shocking to see a beloved princess in such get-up! It made me wonder… such terrible and wonderful things happen to characters in fairytales, but because of the very nature of the tales, we rarely get to see into their hearts and minds. What would happen to them if they walked away from their stories? How would they survive in the real world? So many of them have fantastic and very physical differences that separate them from what is considered normal- would they begin to entertain the masses with their physical presence, as they once did with their stories?

The story is my answer to these questions.

Questions About Writing:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I realized, half way through my first semester in the Celtic History program at Aberdeen University, that I couldn’t resist my natural inclination to make things up. I don’t think anyone is well-served by a historian with a tendency to make things up.

Who’s your favorite living author?
I’m a Neil Gaiman fangirl. Who isn’t, really?

Favorite book read when you were a child?
I loved the Moomintroll books by Tove Jansen. The characters have such a wonderful outlook on life. Nothing really troubles them! I’m a terrible worrier, so I take great comfort in the fact that Moominmama can accept the destruction of her home by flood, comet, or what have you, and just be happy that someone remembered to pack the jam as they were fleeing.

The Narnia books were also a favorite. Now I have philosophical problems with some of the things that happen in them, but as a kid, I was convinced that Narnia was real and if I just believed in it enough, I’d get there. In the end, I think writing is my way of going to Narnia.

Random Questions:

Favorite restaurant?
Unkh’s Sushi Restaurant in Holland, Michigan. BEST INARI EVER. 


Do you have a secret skill that you never get to show off? (i.e. ambidextrous writing, blood-curdling screams, etc.)
I know three different versions of the Child Ballad “Matty Groves.” But it’s hard enough to get people to sit through it once, let alone three times. 


Do you check your horoscope?
My parents own a new age music and book store, so I don’t need to! They tell me if there’s anything interesting going on in the heavens. When I was a teenager, they used to guess the signs of waitresses when we went out to eat, based on their physical appearance. They were usually right.

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Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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