Catherine Gracey

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Thanks For All The Fish

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

If you’re familiar with the quote that forms the title of this post, you should already know where this is going. If you’re not familiar with the quote, kudos on surviving my sense of humour for as long as you have.

This update marks the end of regular posting on this site. Working on two sites that feature interviews with authors makes no sense so, if you would enjoy reading more, please head over to Book In The Bag for an interview every Wednesday. They’re conducted by Mandi M. Lynch.

Thanks for your support with this project. If you would like to keep reading more of my work, I post a book review on Book In The Bag every Tuesday, post articles about writing on Penmonkey every Wednesday, and maintain a blog about my life on Mondays and Fridays.

Interview: Foz Meadows

In Australian, Author on December 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

Foz Meadows is an Australian author currently based in Bristol, UK. She is known for her young adult novels, Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt, and for her contributions to the Huffington Post. She has developed a a fondness for unusual and interesting hats, but tragically has not announced any plans to combine this with her interest in politics. Foz recently took a break from her battle with Ikea furniture to answer my questions.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

I make things up. I mean, I know that’s pretty much the literal definition of an author – someone who makes up stories – but still, the novelty of doing so never gets old. Stories are incredible, and being able to tell them is a privilege.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I dislike the phrase ‘career position’, as it implies that I know what I’m doing. So far as I can tell, I am where I am through a combination of persistence, luck and occasional creativity – beyond that, I have no idea.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

My ability to deal with utilities companies without swearing at their customer service representatives, because it fosters my delusions of adulthood.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

I talk a lot – volubly and with confidence – so it’s easy to miss that I’m also a good listener; or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I pay attention to what I’m told, and remember it. A truly good listener has the ability to cultivate an inviting silence, which isn’t a skill I possess; but if you’ve ever told me anything interesting about yourself or someone else, even in passing, even when both of us were six drinks into a ten drink evening, and even if you weren’t really talking to me so much as near me, then chances are, I remember. Which isn’t to say I never forget things, but generally speaking, I’ve got a strong verbatim memory, and the more something interests me, the more likely I am to recall it.

Also, I compulsively clip my fingernails. Like, at least once a day compulsively. I just can’t leave them alone.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

Any politician, pundit or other prominent political figure who failed to pass a detailed annual intersectional reproductive and sexual health quiz – the results of which would be freely available to the public – would be banned from politics for at least a year, and would then have to pass with a higher mark next time around in order to be reinstated. Because, let’s face it, if you’re a politician over the age of 40 and particularly if you’re male, the chances are that you’ve never actually experienced a basic high school sex ed class; or if you have, the information you were given as a teenager is likely out of date and irrelevant, assuming you’ve even remembered it at all. And I’m sick to death of hearing politicians talk haltingly about something as basic as how the pill works, let alone fumble ignorantly through successive dialogues on rape and abortion, when access to contraception, maternity leave provisions, childrearing, STD prevention, population control, LGBTQ rights, poverty, racism, single parenthood, women’s equality and virtually every other pertinent political issue is impacted by decisions about reproductive health. How are we meant to have those conversations constructively when the majority of legislators don’t understand the basics of what they’re talking about?

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

There’s a big difference between growing as a person and changing who you are to suit someone else, but because pragmatism is a necessary part of life, it’s not always clear which is which. Just do the best you can, and remember that, while positive growth is sometimes hard, it shouldn’t leave you broken.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

I’d like to own my own house and be in a position to furnish it, but realistically, it’ll be years before that happens. As much as I love our current place, I’m steadily tiring of rental properties and living in fear of what happens if I spill sauce on the carpet or scratch the lounge. It doesn’t have to be something fancy; I just want a place that’s mine, so I can fill it with cats and books and put nails in the wall if I need a new picture hook.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

I have vowed to never again be a teenager – and happily, that’s an easy vow to keep. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against teenagers, and I certainly had some great times as one. But I was also very insecure, school drove me insane, I was an insomniac, and my body consciousness was awful. I much prefer being the person I am now.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

Compulsively clipping my nails and hangnails, probably, on account of how I’ve effectively destroyed them.

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

If I could magically learn a new language, that would be awesome, but on the basis of past experience, it’s not something for which I have a natural aptitude. Plus and also, I suck at grammar.

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

More books, hopefully! I’m working on multiple projects at the moment and have great faith in all of them, but in the mean time, I’ll be blogging and lurking online as per usual.

Thank you, Foz, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Foz, you can visit her blog or follow her on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.

Interview: Robert J. Krog

In American, Author on December 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

Robert J. Krog is the author to have given me the biggest literary laugh this year with a delightfully random short story that he wrote. You might recognise him for his story collection, The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, and his novella, A Bag Full of Eyes. Robert completed a Masters degree in History, where he learned how to read Middle Egyptian. He recently took the time to answer my questions, thankfully writing in English.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

Just getting to write stories and sometimes see them published is really cool to me. Reaching other people through my work, knowing that, here and there, other human beings have read, appreciated, been entertained and perhaps edified by the stories I’ve written is cool enough for me.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

My rather tenuous career position as an author published by small presses was reached through a combination of persistence in writing and submitting my work and by showing up at sci fi and fantasy conventions and meeting authors, editors, and publishers. The insights lent me by others already in the field helped immensely, that and writing and submitting persistently.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

I have two, young children, who despite our rather hectic life, are becoming more well-behaved and loving every day. I’m proud of them and proud of my wife for putting up with me. I don’t deserve it.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

Not that I’m terribly flamboyant, but most of my character traits are not so subtle as to be missed. Nevertheless, they might miss my droll wit. I’m sure I had it in my other pants, and now I can’t find it.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

I’m really rather grateful that such things are not left to my discretion. The bad things in this world that I’d like to see changed are the results of humanity’s free will. Such things have to be changed by individual choice. Rape, murder, and child abuse are inexcusable crimes, but the best we can do is to raise loving children in the hope that they won’t end up committing such crimes and to punish the people that commit them. Beyond that, it is up to each person to choose good or evil. I can influence such people as I meet, if they let me, but I can’t change them, and wouldn’t if I could, since the result would be to remove their humanity.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

Go to church. Read the Bible. Study it. Follow its instructions. Don’t be like me.

Does that all count as one piece? I can run it all together like this instead, if it isn’t.
Gotochurch.ReadtheBible.Studyit.Followitsinstructions.Don’tbelikeme.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

I’d like to write a novel. I’m in the process, but I had to go and have children didn’t I? Well, that slowed me down a bit. Not to worry, I’ll get it done.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

I’d prefer not to say. Suffice to say that I’ve been as unwise as most anybody and will do my utmost to be wiser in the future.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

See number 8. 🙂

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

Sailing. My father loved to sail. If I had the money and the time, I’d buy a catamaran and learn to sail like my father.

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

I’m working on a short novel, titled Penultima. It’s set in an apocalyptic/ dystopian future. Zombies are in it, of course, but they aren’t what it’s about. It’ll have miracle trains too, and several of the main characters have the same name, if that’s a tantalizing tease for anyone. I may be lucky enough to edit a pirate-themed anthology next year. Cross your fingers for me. I’ve also got a steam punk story coming out in the Kerlak Publishing anthology Dreams of Steam III. In spring of 2013, I have two short stories in Shelter of Daylight from Sam’s Dot publishing.

Thank you, Robert, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Robert, you can visit his website.

Next Week: Foz Meadows

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