Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Next Big Thing Interview

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

Thank you, Kirsten Rue, for the invitation to “The Next Big Thing.” Kirsten and I received our MFAs together, and ever since, we have been the tightest of Facebook friends. Kirsten writes beautiful (poetic) prose and also blogs at A Blog Of One’s Own where you can catch all the details about her current project The Minister which sounds like a MUST READ. In the meantime, here’s my attempt at "An Interview Of One’s Own…" so to speak...

1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?

The Shekinah or the Shekinah & Other Spirits - titles are the hardest for me.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’m a huge fan of Alice Notley, and have been stewing over her book The Descent of Alette for years. Alette is this woman finds herself travelling the underground subway system of New York City to find “the tyrant,” who is, of course, the figure the old, dead, white guy that runs the poetry world. Alette is also a spirit-woman who transforms into her spirit animal, an owl, to defeat the tyrant. SPOILER ALERT: Alette wins; she takes down the tyrant with words, and when she emerges above ground, the city is empty. The world has to start over, so to speak, with Alette as its hero. Pretty ballsy. A woman world-starter. I love it.

The work is so lovely I had to hold my throat with two hands. Her attempt to write a “feminine epic” is what got me geared up to attempt my own, featuring the Shekinah (the hardly-spoken-of feminine divine presence of God), which literally is translated from Hebrew as “the dwelling” place. 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I imagine you would find this book in the Poetry section. Next to other poetry books that fragmented lines, broken characters, and preternatural narratives.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Wow. Has any poet been asked that? Has an experimental book of poetry ever been made into a movie? I will have to look this up….but I suppose I would want Catherine Keener to play me because she is badass, “God” would be played by Samuel L. Jackson, and the Shekinah would be played by Betty White if only for my early-adulthood obsession with The Golden Girls.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Among a group of women who live to serve God, one woman calls upon the Shekinah to free them from their situation, however, when the Shekinah rises from her grave, what emerges is the ghastly figure of...[read to find out]. 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My hope is that a really kick-ass small press will publish it. 

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still drafting. My relationship with any project is an unfinished one. But with that said,  I’ve been working on this project for about a year and suspect it will be ready by summer 2013.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I guess I already mentioned The Descent of Alette and that’s the best comparison I can make. But I’m also influenced by and see a link to Michelle Robinson’s detective/mystery book of prose-ish poems, The Life of a Hunter, which I read many years ago. There is also Alice Ostriker’s amazing book of poems, The Volcano Sequence, which tackles feminism and religion.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Actually, living in Hawaiʻi has inspired me. I live on an island so rich in culture – even in the face of so many cultural losses—that’s it’s difficult to not think of your own cultural identification(s). In a very physical way, I am isolated, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on land and with stories that I have no genealogical ties to. However, the physicality of that experience had helped me explore the narratives that have formed me—for better or for worse.  I talk a bit about this in Jack London is Dead: Contemporary Euro-American Poetry in Hawaiʻi, which was just recently published by Tinfish Press. You can also find some of my Shekinah poems in that anthology or listen to me babble on HPR here.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

If you like work that pushes the edges of narrative, language, and genre or if you are a hipster, I think you’ll dig it. 

Thanks for reading this madness. And thank you Kirsten Rue of tagging me. Now it's my turn to tag some great writers that I know:

Donovan Kūhiō Colleps: Besides being a totally awesome human being, Donovan is an amazing poet and fiction writer. I worked with him while he was Editor-in-Chief at the Hawaii Review & found out that he has a great sense of humor, great taste in [reality] television, and is a stellar visual artist (is there anything he can't do?). His work is beautifully written, cutting close to the bones of family and language. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. You can see him perform his work here, but turn the volume up! (It's worth it.)    

No`u Revilla: Known around town for her sexy poetry, No`u's writing is deeply rooted in language play, femininity, and place. She is a fantastic performer, which makes her work undeniably magnetic. (It doesn't hurt that she is drop-dead-gorgeous, of course.) No`u is a PhD student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she fuses the critical with the creative. We're lucky to have her chapbook Say Throne published by Tinfish Press & I can't wait to hear what she's working on next!Read a review of her work here!

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