Hello, everyone, I have a guest today: poet, family historian, and fellow cat hoarder lover, Luanne Castle. Many of you might already know Luanne from her blog, Writer Site, or her website, Luanne Castle, or perhaps you’ve already read her first book of poetry, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. I’m […]
Category Archives: Interview
I’m grateful to Zinta Aistars and WMUK radio. They produce a show called Between the Lines that showcases writers. Zinta interviewed me about Doll God. You can read about it and/or listen to it here. She posted a short version, as well as a full-length version, so take your pick.
In addition to the book, I talked about the origins of my writing 😉 and about my interest in family history.
I seriously hope I didn’t make too big a fool of myself. Yikes.
More “on the road” with Mom: hubby and I took her to a fundraiser for the medical fund at the pet shelter. We had cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres at Blue Martini in Phoenix. We didn’t win the raffles, alas. But I know our ticket money went to provide treatment to animals that have no one else to care for them.
Editor Jenn Monroe of Extract(s) lit magazine asked me some very thought-provoking questions in today’s interview. Also, check out the excerpt from Doll God also published May 1 in Extract(s): http://dailydoseoflit.com/2015/05/01/excerpt-luanne-castle/
I’m still trying to crank out a revision for Stanford, but I thought I’d give you a snicker of enjoyment today. I want to remind you that the night before my TV interview I did not sleep AT ALL. Therefore, I don’t feel I should be responsible for the baggy, wrinkled state of affairs in this video. I’ll be back Monday!
Paula Fox can’t be categorized–at least, not by me. She’s won awards for her children’s books like One-Eyed Cat and The Slave Dancer.
I’ve taught both these books. One-Eyed Cat is a particularly wonderful book which examines the complexity of emotions like remorse and guilt.
But she’s not “just” a YA or children’s author. She’s been called the greatest writer of novels for adults by Jonathan Franzen (read here), but I can’t vouch for those as I haven’t (yet) read them.
She’s a memoirist, but I’m not sure Borrowed Finery (one of her two memoirs) is a memoir.
I just finished reading the book last night. What a life! I was enthralled, following the details of Fox’s life, as she was moved about from person to person, city to city, even living in Cuba for a year and a half. Fox is 91 years old, and the book takes place up to the point that she is 21 years old, except for a short section at the end, so the book is not an exhaustive autobiography–probably why it’s called a memoir. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel like a memoir. There wasn’t a strong MDQ driving the book. Occasionally, it is even anecdotal. That said, I was fascinated, both by the events and by her exquisite sentences.
Her mother abandoned her at birth; she was a cruel woman who seemed to blame infant (and child) daughter for the loss of her “spring.” Her father and mother were married, and the father complied with the mother’s wishes. He also seemed to be quite cruel and a severe alcoholic, although as a child Fox was obsessed with him. One of the first times Fox was with her parents, they asked her to order from room service. When the meal came, she realized she had forgotten to order milk and mentioned it. Her father took the tray of food and threw it out the window.
Many people are familiar with some basics of Fox’s life. For instance, when she was 21 she gave birth to a baby girl. Linda was the result of a one-night stand, although Fox had already been married to someone else. Fox despaired of being able to take care of her daughter and gave her up for adoption–only to almost immediately change her mind. She was told it was too late to change her mind (it wasn’t). Eventually, Fox was reunited with adult Linda and they have a good relationship. Linda is the mother of three daughters. Two of the granddaughters Fox has a great relationship with. The other granddaughter through Linda is Courtney Love, who Paula does not think is a good person. It does make me wonder if Love inherited a gene passed on to Linda from Fox from her own horrible mother.
Although I know that an unknown writer can’t publish a memoir that relies on chronology and anecdote in the way that Fox’s can, I did learn many things from her book. Just soaking up her elegant phrasing makes me aspire to write better. Then I also saw that she easily moved forward in time when she wanted to “tie up” an anecdote. With her graceful style, I really had to pay attention to even notice such a move.
One of the hallmarks of memoir is the double eye–the protagonist at the moment the events occur and the older, wiser protagonist reflecting upon those events. In that respect, Fox’s book is a stunning memoir. In one scene, her father spanks her for coming into her parents’ bedroom. In reality, he’s upset that she saw him with another woman in the bed. The African-American maid speaks up to defend Fox.
Years later, when I thought about her–and I thought about her often–about how much she had had to overcome in the way of an enforced and habitual discretion, how a sense of justice in her had outweighed the risk–I realized how brave she had been.
If you prefer books with a strong and fast-paced through-line you might find this book too lyrical. But if you’re willing to sit down and let a writer with a perfect sense of timing guide you, you will appreciate the story of Fox’s early life.
Jill Weatherholt interviewed me for her Summer Spotlight series. I had a blast answering her great questions. Each one made me think of a story I would love to write ;)!
Luanne Castle has been a grad student, college instructor, businesswoman, wife, mom, crazy cat lady, and more. Woven throughout those other identities has been writer, but more often than not writing has had to come second to everything else.
After years of dreaming of retiring and sitting in a pretty office writing her first book, Luanne seized the day when she partially retired. Now she works from home for the family business and writes—blogs, poetry, and memoir. Her office is beautifully decorated with her creative colors of ivory, coral, and black. Instead, she sits at the kitchen laptop, alternating between writing and handling the business demands by phone and email. She finally learned that it’s better to write “some” than “none.”
Recently, Luanne completed Doll God, a poetry manuscript. She is sending it out to publishers and contests. She also sifts through her memories and the family story, arranging it…
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Usually only “somebodies” are interviewed. But The Missouri Review isn’t confined by pedestrian boundaries . Although they are a well-respected and long-running literary magazine, they have a cutting edge attitude. For instance, did you know that they have an audio version of their magazine? This is what they have to say about it:
One of the many innovative ideas we’ve had in recent years was to create an audio version of our magazine. Every issue, our staff, lead by audio editor Kevin McFillen, gets an early uncorrected version of the stories, essays, and poems forthcoming in the next issue. The audio team reads the work and then selects a reader (or “performer”) from the Columbia theater community whose voice best captures the text. They get together in our recording studio, down in the basement of McReynolds Hall (it’s room 54 and, you betcha, we call it Studio 54), and then the audio file is edited for production. Each audio recording is then included in the digital version of The Missouri Review.
Alison Balaskovits, Social Media Editor of The Missouri Review was kind enough to interview me for their blog. I hope you’ll check out the interview (at least to see my new headshot 😉 by the magician Christopher Barr).
After you read it, tell me what you liked best about what you learned about me–or what broke your heart or made you irritated. Insert more smiley faces with winks.
And take a look at TMR’s digital subscription deal, especially if you plan to submit work to them:
The digital edition of our magazine is created by GTxcel. Your subscription is delivered via link to your email address, and then you, as a subscriber, has access to not only read all of the stories, poems, and essays in each issue, but hear them as well. Our art features, in particular, really pop off the screen in the digital version.
One of the best offers we have is our Submit and Subscribe: submit your unpublished work to us and get a one-year subscription to the digital version of The Missouri Review for just $20, which is over fifteen percent lower than the print subscription. It’s a great opportunity to not only send your work to us but also to get a fantastic deal on four issues of our magazine. You can Submit and Subscribe here and, if you’re still not convinced, you can check out a sample of the digital issue.
Here’s the interview.
Should I write a blog post about what I endured to get that headshot accomplished?
On another note, I just returned to Arizona, the land of always-summer, from California. Look what I found in California! Autumn!
Are you a journal keeper? A note taker? A free writer? I jot down a few writing ideas here and there, but I don’t keep a journal. The thought of journal keeping makes my pulse race from the stress.
But I think free writing is a neglected step in writing.
Today I stumbled on a timed “free write” from 1996. It amazed me how the seeds for my Freshly Pressed post “How and Why I Don’t Know Science” were all there 17 years ago.
Here’s part of the free write, unrevised:
I begin with thinking of the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “That Marvelous Toy,” and until I write about this I’ll remember nothing else. That mechanical, marvelous toy. My grandfather’s love of gadget toys. When I was a child, we used to give him toys for Christmas.
Then I think of having to take earth science in 10th grade because I refused to dissect animals. Earth science was so boring, taught by a beige boring person, and I was stuck at a table with kids who sat in the back of other classes. Therefore, I learned nothing. I yearned for chemistry and physics.
I loved 7th grade science where we saw anti-drug propaganda films and brought in chocolate colored ants. We kept track of what we ate, to add up calories. I ate 2nd most in the class by far. Metabolism? In college I loved Aims and Achievements of Science which was taught like a biography class!
None of these memories 3:09/3:12 (phone/bathroom) though is the tangible revelation of science, is it? Punished in 3rd grade, desk in hall to record roman numerals as high as I could, when the punishment was over, I kept going to see how far I could go. But this was easy, a challenge, no revelation.
The dead squirrel in the front year–the squirrel whose mouth crawled with maggots? Cutting the fish open? They bleed? Studying clouds in 5/6th grades? Buying those science books at the grocery store and studying aspects of science, doing experiments, the Mich. State channel on Sat. afternoon–potato experiments, etc. Seeing magic performed with science. Seeing the birth of a baby on a movie at the world’s fair at Expo 67 (I was 12 and terrified, so very much bleeding, bleeding).
I blank. Science? What? Making crystals on a string. My shell collection. Rock collection. Dead leaves. Pine cones. Tadpoles in the stream behind Stonehenge. Putting caterpillar in a jar and letting him cocoon all winter. Forgetting to take him out when he turns into a butterfly–he dies in the jar.
My guinea pig babies dying–every single litter of them, until I couldn’t stand to go near the guinea pigs. Leaving the birds too long without food or fresh water.
Reading over this collection of run-on memories, I can see a lot of different story seeds. A few I have already written about. The first litter of guinea pigs is a scene in my book. I’ve touched on the butterfly, but that is just another step until I write the actual piece about it.
I’m taking two projects away from finding this old free writing.
One is that I can write about my grandfather’s love of mechanical toys. On my genealogy blog I have been serializing an interview of my grandfather which was conducted in 1994—when he was elderly, but still healthy. I could post a story about Grandpa’s toys on that website. Or I could write it for this one.
The other project is that I ought to be doing a lot more of these timed free writes. They allow little memories to pop up, one after another, as I am pressured by the time deadline and freed from the pressure of having to write well ;).
Do you do free writing? If so, is it timed? What do you find helpful about it?