Rather than writing an “About me” section and droning on about the expected, I decided to make a list of questions from friends and family and then respond to them as they rolled in. Because I have such creative and incredible people in my life, I thought this would do much more to present a conglomeration of my thoughts, personality quirks, and idiosyncrasies than if I just sat down and hammered out a few obligatory paragraphs.
They did not disappoint…
Behold, some seriously amazing questions, answered in the order they appeared in my inbox.
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What is your favorite animal and why?
This is difficult…my favorite animal is sometimes a penguin, sometimes a lobster, sometimes an alligator, sometimes an octopus…But I think on most days I would pick the octopus and other thingies with tentacles. I’m not entirely sure why. They can camouflage themselves. Plus they steal sandwiches. They’re crafty. I guess I like that? If I had an Octopus I would name him Oswald.
Why should I read this blog? 😉
Because, you winky-faced bastard, I thought we were friends.
Who is your favorite pen and how would he/she/it describe your morning routine?
Well, I wrote out an answer for this one, and it turns out I have very complex feelings about writing implements. So, I turned this answer into a full post.
What kind of wood is Aloisius made from?
You know, I’m not entirely sure. Aloisius did not come with papers of authenticity or anything like that, but I did a bit of research (surprise) when he first came to live with me in 2007. His mother of pearl inlay, most likely makes him German. And his era of manufacturing, 1830s to 40s, most likely makes him walnut or mahogany. Given his reddish hue, I’m going to have to go with mahogany, but maybe stained walnut. Not entirely sure. I should go on antiques roadshow.
Describe your ideal date with Aloisius.
Aloisius has eyes for someone else. It’s unrequited. He manages, though, he really does.
If you had to orbit a different star, which would it be?
A blue one.
If you could be physically present at any historical event that took place in Illinois (where I grew up), which event would it be and why?
I don’t really know all that much about Illinois history, to tell you the honest truth. But the World’s Fair comes to mind. I think it would be quite the thing to fly up in that balloon on the midway and look out over Olmstead’s electric boats and such.
Talk about land and how it relates to your work.
This turned into a full post, too.
Which British monarch (living or dead) do you relate most to and why?
Well, British monarchs are British monarchs, so it’s kind of difficult to relate. My favorite British king is Charles I because he had a tragically poetic speech impediment–the only two speeches he gave without stuttering were his trial defense and his farewell at his execution. And my second favorite is King John, because I think he was just super misunderstood. Sure he did some dickish things, but they all did, and he sort of made England a priority for the first time. So I have to give him that.
Choose your favorite literary character. NOW, devise a vegetarian-friendly last mean for him/her. What would it include?
Sherlock Holmes, obvi. For honest, the first thing that came to mind was a nettle soup. I have not made a nettle soup, but I seriously want to. And I think that Sherlock with his diet of tobacco, tea, and a 7% solution of cocaine could probably stomach some nettles. I doubt I could get him to spend time with me, though. Mostly likely, Watson would end up eating the soup and telling me how much Sherlock would enjoy it if he only had the time. And I’d be like, you’re a great guy Watson, you really are.
When an author writes a novel, does he/ she have a conscious focus on creating “meaning and imagery” as he/she writes or does the story unfold from a fertile mind leaving the reader the task of finding these elements?
This is an excellent question that definitely necessitated a full post.
If you could invite three historical people to dinner who would it be and why? Also, what would you serve?
Alright, I had to think about this one for a while. And although there are a million people I’d like to invite and a million things I’d like to serve, these are the names and dinner item I kept coming back to. First, I would invite Mary Shelley, the original goth. I get the sense she had a wicked sense of both humor and justice, and I am desperate to know what kind of small-talk a visionary makes. Next, I would invite Charles II of England. I think he would get a kick out of Shelley, and Charles II was a total weirdo who dispersed charm like a royal Pez dispenser. Finally, I would invite Dr. Neville E. Thomas, one of the mental physicians from my dissertation. I don’t know if he’d have much fun, but I desperately want to meet him.
And I would serve pizza. I want to know what toppings they would pick and how they would eat it.
Please name your favorite film from each year of the 1990s.
I was going to answer this question and then I actually looked at the movie lists on IMDB. Who the hell knew that Twister against the Hunchback of Notre Dame both came out in (1996)? I can’t.
What is your favorite color? Please provide 3-5 reasons justifying your choice. – (Luke)
This took a bit of thought. I really like blue, burgundy, and rich greens. But in the end, I had to go with blue for the following reasons: it has the most enjoyable shades—pretty much every kind of blue is lovely; I find the sky totally engaging, and it is blue; blue inevitably makes me think of stars and deep night and magic; my grandmother on my dad’s side, my dad, my sister, my brothers, and I all have the same blue eyes, which I find comforting; the ocean is blue, and my favorite creatures live in the ocean.
If you could go back in time and change the results of one U.S. presidential election, which would you choose and why? Please limit your selection to elections that took place prior to 1932.
I would make Andrew Jackson lose. Hard. I’m sure there’s someone out there who knows more about the guy than I do who is having a conniption fit right now over how we needed a) b) and c) of his policies. But the guy was a total asshole who forced Native Americans through a violent “relocation,” AND he basically invented the modern system of campaigning, which I sure as hell could do without. Take back your buttons and signs and slander and personality politics and extreme racism, Jackson. I ain’t afraid of you.
Can you remember the first time that you realized words on paper had an impact on your mood or emotion?
I think this honor belongs to The Color Kittens. I vividly remember this book from my childhood, and how in the last page all the colors collide and create a river of brown. And the book says, “And in all that brown, the sun went down.” And I was inevitably content and sleepy when I read that line. I found it very comforting.
Could you provide a quick primer on latinate vs. germanic english and explain any preferences you have and whether the style of writing influences that. If you like, expound on greek language influences on the english language.
What is the strangest item you have anthropomorphized?
Oh god. I don’t know. I’m so far out of the realm of normal here that I don’t even know what people would consider strange. Anthropomorphizing a musical instrument is fairly normal, right? and a car? How about a hole punch? That’s probably bizarre. My hole punch is a beast in a very quiet, reliable, and buttoned up sort of way. His name is Reginald.
Is there anyone you consider your hero? living? or dead?
And click here for a lovely video of my Grandma Byram.
What historical person has influenced your life the most?
I can really only think of movements, spearheaded by thousands of people together, as being influential. I think I’m just inherently skeptical of unquestioned leadership, un-critiqued expertise, and cults of personality at this point…
So, the ongoing work for queer recognition and rights inspires me every day. It helps me hold up my head and leave my house.
Is there any piece of literature fiction or non-fiction that had a large influence on you?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society helped me through the loss of my grandparents with its eloquent statements on dying and living. It was just light enough to keep me going and just deep enough to remind me that some thoughts will always be all-pervading, and that’s alright. And aside from that, it is some of the most vivacious and lovely writing I have ever encountered.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell made me sit up and go…oh shit, I think I could be a writer.
How has Achewood changed your life?
In so many ways.
What are you most afraid of and why? I think there should be two answers rational and irrational.
Rational: Losing my ability to communicate.
Irrational: Either pool drains or dandelion weeds.
What is your favorite piece of furniture and why?
My bed. I’ve grown into it since the time I was six years old. It’s a sturdy farm-sale bed with a ¾ mattress that doesn’t fit sheets properly, so all my bedclothes are vintage. And that bed has seen nearly every book I’ve read from Mother Goose to Nancy Drew to Sherlock Holmes to Nuala O’Faolain. I do a good deal of creative writing in bed, and I spend a lot of time at night winding down and thinking deep thoughts and wondering what to dream about. So even when I’m asleep it aids my creative process.
Too bad it’s a pain in the ass to move. (Right now I’m sleeping in the bunkbeds I slept in as a kid, with like, glow in the dark stars and exposed bolts, because the 80s.)
Would you take up drinking or smoking to make your study more awesome? –
Alas, I am a teetotaler these days, and I haven’t smoked my pipe in a while, either.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for one week and you could only bring three things with you, what would they be?
I’m going to assume I don’t need water, food, etc., because it’s more fun that way. So, reality suspended, I would take a pen, fresh paper, and a well-written, inspiring book to command my thoughts for the week.