Tell us how “Caretaker” came to be.
I had the first few lines rattling around my head for a while. Science teaches us that many of the stars we see are already dead, and Mufasa teaches us that stars are the ghosts of deceased kings who watch over us. What I took from these two lessons is this: the dead come out at night to watch you while you sleep. Which I decided was pretty damn creepy.
I wrote “Caretaker” when I was desperate to finish something, anything. I was having some trouble sleeping at the time (not because of the dead, probably), and my focus was taking a serious hit as a result. I wasn’t even seriously considering trying to sell this story — or else I probably wouldn’t have written it in the second person — I just needed to finish SOMETHING to prove that I could. Let me tell you: nobody has ever celebrated as hard as I did for managing to write a mere 800 words. Lots of backslapping and happy dancing occurred that day.
Melancholy girls, powerful girls — we see these girls in many of your stories. Please tell us more about them.
I debated about concealing this, but that felt uncomfortably like lying, so. Truth is, in my head, the narrator of this story is male, always was. When I gave “Caretaker” to a few people to read, I was initially surprised when someone referred to the protagonist as “she.” (Two other readers referred to the protagonist as “he,” although I can’t remember now if the gender of the reader matched the gender they read into the character. I smell opportunities for statistics here.) I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, and I had to think, “Right, I never actually specify gender in this story. Is that gonna be a thing? Is that something I need to fix?” But . . . it just didn’t seem important for this particular piece. Writing well-rounded, interesting female characters IS important to me and pretty much always has been, but for me, this story has always been about the legacy parents leave to their children (intentionally or accidentally), and I realized it just didn’t bother me if people read this narrator as a daughter or a son.
That all being said, melancholic and powerful girls DO pop up a lot in my writing. There are probably multiple reasons that depression has become something of a theme in my work, but one of them, I think, has something to do with my interest in writing about women who don’t yet fully recognize or understand their own power. Sometimes, I feel like people try to separate the “strong women” in their positions of power from the “weak women” who have been victimized by others. The truth, though, is that even strong, capable, amazing women are sometimes caught in terrible situations where they feel helpless to change their own circumstances. I find myself writing about girls who are trying to find their own power, to break free of these circumstances. They don’t always succeed. But it’s a journey I’m continually interested in.
Tell us about My Geek Blasphemy! How does your work on the blog have an impact on your fiction writing?
I love movies. I love serious movies, I love funny movies, and I especially love movies that are funny because they failed so badly at being serious. I never had much luck selling movie reviews, partially because I didn’t have any professional experience to put on a resume and partially because I’m the kind of person who picks watching The Crow 4: Wicked Prayer over Frozen. So about four years ago, I decided to just create my own blog. I write about other stuff now, too, but it started primarily with a desire to write too many snarky and profane words about silly action movies and bad horror flicks.
Honestly, I’m not sure how my work on the blog impacts my fiction writing. It takes TIME from my fiction writing, that’s certainly true. (I love writing my reviews, but they do tend to be ridiculously long. A lot of my writing is, even, apparently, my responses to interview questions.) I do spend a lot of time writing about tropes, analyzing what works for me and what doesn’t, and that does come into play in my own fiction. For example, I was praising the parent-kid relationships in Teen Wolf, and thinking to myself, “Wow, your parents often kind of suck in your stories. You should work on that.” And lo and behold, I had a healthy parent-kid relationship in my next (currently unpublished) story.
We too love amusing millinery, but WHAT IS IT about silly hats? Describe to us your very favorite silly hat. Out in Pop Culture Land, who do you think makes/wears the very best silly hats?
If I may borrow the words of Catherynne M. Valente: “Hats have power. Hats can change you into someone else.” Silly hats are the best hats, I think, because they arm you with the power of the ridiculous. A bit of absurdity is good for the soul, and who can laugh at you if you’re already laughing at yourself?
My favorite silly hat in my own collection is probably my giant yellow Loki hat I bought on Etsy, although I am fond of my aviator cap that I own for no practical reason at all. As far as Pop Culture Land goes . . . man. I don’t think I can pick. Link’s got a pretty sweet hat. Magneto’s helmet (if we’re counting helmets) is damn silly. I don’t see how you can possibly take anyone who’s wearing that thing seriously. But no, you know what? There’s this movie called Plunkett & Macleane that my friend Cory turned me onto, and Alan Cumming is wearing THE MOST AMAZING silly purple hat that I’ve ever seen. It’s just so vibrant. If that hat doesn’t win top prize, it’s certainly making it on the podium.
Wow, you’ve written a lot of movie reviews! What, in your opinion, is the single most outrageous/hyperbolic film you’ve ever reviewed, and why should we watch it?
Oh God, what a question. That’s so impossibly mean. I don’t even . . . okay. Okay, while I refuse to try to pick the One Outrageous Film to Rule Them All — I just, I can’t — I’ll give an example of one that I watched this year: Death Race 2000. It’s definitely making it on a top ten list of Most Insane Films Ever.
I should warn you all: your enjoyment of this movie will be highly dependent upon both your love of the ridiculous and your ability to mock the rampant 70’s sexism throughout the film instead of feeling enraged and/or defeated by it. Understandably, not everyone is willing or able to do that. But I have to say, I laughed pretty much the whole way through this movie. If you’re interested, here are a few of the the more WTF things you will encounter (kind of spoiler-y, sorry):
- Sylvester Stallone as one of the least intimidating cinematic villains ever
- A quite literal hand grenade
- Stage fighting of a quality you have not seen since TOS: Kirk vs Gorn
- Mr. President Frankenstein
- Nazis who drive race cars
- Racing gear that can only be described as Superhero Scuba Diver Chic
- The deadly insult: baked potato
It’s really quite something special. I’m not sure who WOULDN’T want to watch it, honestly.