Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello Fiona, I’m Kimberly White. Age is irrelevant to this discussion, but thanks for asking.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in Southern California (Orange County), but have lived in Northern California since the age of 23.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I skipped college (no time, no money, no inclination), instead learning how to write by voraciously reading. College isn’t for everyone. When I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my boyfriend and my cats, buried in books and art.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just had a poem called “Words on a String Theory” appear in Lalitamba, and another poem called “a city condo/hiding out from god”just came out in StepAway Magazine. THEMA recently accepted a poem called “What Woodpeckers Don’t Know,” for their summer 2019 issue.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Writing is something I always wanted to do, from the youngest age, but for too long felt I couldn’t do it. I would feel compelled, then write gushing journal entries for about a month, after which it would fizzle out and I went back to being convinced that I had no ability. The compulsion grew into something undeniable when I was in my late twenties, and finally got over the hurdles that kept me from trying for so long. I started again with journal writing, letting go of my pre-conceived notions of what that was supposed to be, instead focusing on recording my dreams and telling stories, both current and past, both having to do with me and having nothing to do with me. From there, I graduated to fiction, then later started trying to write poetry. Once I started writing and studying poetry, that changed how I write prose. I love to blur the lines between poetry and prose.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A writer does one thing: they write. I first embraced the definition when the compulsion did not die out after about a month, for the first time, when I gave into it in my late twenties. I have not put the pen down since.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
With my first book, Bandy’s Restola, I can’t point to any one thing that inspired it, other than the landscape of Central California. It was more of an amalgam of bits and pieces coming together at the right time to form a viable story.
Hotel Tarantula, my second book, was inspired by my own irrational arachnophobia, and the dreams that came from it. Much of the books revolves around the main character’s dreams, and most of the dreams described in the book are dreams that I actually had and wrote down over the years.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Wow, that’s hard to say. Usually, titles just come to me, like a little flash, or something whispered in my ear by something invisible saying, Here, write this.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I think all writing is challenging, or it should be – if it’s not a challenge, I might not be doing it right. I’m always reaching to top myself and be better.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In Bandy’s Restola, the landscape and atmosphere are strong characters, realistically portrayed to show the impact of the land. I’ve travelled a lot through the area in which it is set, and it is a unique part of California. A poet I know once wrote that you can’t talk poetry without talking about the land, and I strived for that with this story.
Hotel Tarantula, as mentioned before, was heavily inspired by my own dreams and intense fear of spiders, as well as the Trickster character in world mythology. Trickster characters abound in most cultural systems. I love mythology, especially Trickster tales, and I steal a lot from mythology for my own work.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I wish I could travel during the process, but I’m limited to what vacation time I can scrape out. When I do travel, a lot of scraps and notes get written, and the creative energy infusion of travel comes home with me. Once I’m home, the “voodoo of location” kicks in and I can really get down to it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be recent travel; for example, I was dragged through the summertime desert on many family vacations when I was growing up, by my desert-loving parents, and the desert got under my skin in a way that will never be expelled. I have also made several voluntary trips to the desert in my adult years. In addition to the desert scenes in Hotel Tarantula, I write a lot of poetry about the desert, and my newest novel-in-progress is set in the desert.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did! Bandy’s Restola is a collage from my own photos, Hotel Tarantula is an ink blot.
Someone once told me that the Hotel Tarantula cover looks like I took a real tarantula, dipped it in ink and pressed it to the page. She then asked, Did you? Good God, no!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would rather leave that to the reader. Everyone is different and might see different messages, some might even see messages that I didn’t know were there. For example, I once read poetry in an open mic where a woman in the audience suddenly left, telling the host on her way out that something I said made her realize she needed to go out and make a major life change, right freakin’ now. I was flabbergasted, and searched through the three poems I had read to see what the heck I said, but didn’t see anything that looked like it warranted anywhere near such a reaction. To this day, I don’t know what it was, and I never saw her again.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
So hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to, it would be Margaret Atwood. She is as adept at poetry as she is at fiction, something to which I inspire. I love reading and hearing writers who make me feel as if I have no talent whatsoever; they show me where the bar should be and help me see how to reach for it.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The local poet community here in Sacramento, which is extensive, is very warm and welcoming. I have felt nothing but love and support from this community and I thank them for it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It is a career, regardless of how much money I make or don’t make.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest book is finished but not yet published, a novel called Waterfall Girls. At the time being, I have not yet circled back to it for final polish before seeking a publisher, but I’m sure changes will be made. I don’t look back at published works, that is useless. I can spend forever rewriting and trying to improve a work; there comes a time when you have to just stop, pronounce it done, and live with that decision forever. Otherwise, I would never finish anything.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I like to think that I learned to stretcheven further than the last thing I wrote, be it poetry or fiction. My front-burner project today is compiling a full-length poetry manuscript and the first thing I learned is that the opening poem SUCKS. Rewriting.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
While writing Bandy’s Restola, I envisioned Christina Ricci and Harry Dean Stanton in the leads – but unfortunately, both were too old for the roles by the time it was finally published and Harry Dean is now gone. I haven’t imaginary-casted new actors, but I would love to see someone like Jodie Foster or Daryl Hannah direct.
For Hotel Tarantula, I’ve never had a vision for the lead actors, but I would love to see it done by Jim Jarmusch, in that absolutely beautiful moody high-contrast black and white that he sometimes does. Do you know him? Can you give him my email? Thanks!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Just write. Don’t let anyone else’s voice or expectations get in your way.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The current issue of Bat City Review. I devour literary journals.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember my mother teaching me how to read using Dr.Suess books, when I was four. I remember the very moment something went *click* into place and I could read on my own, and reading Hop on Pop.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
There are many, of course, but first and foremost David Bowie, one of the greatest creative geniuses of our time.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Collage art, and postcards. I’m obsessed with postcards, old and new, and use a lot of postcard images for collage. If you want to be postcard buddies, PM me your mailing address.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anything Coen Brothers. I love true crime TV, and things like Breaking Bad, Law and Order, The Sopranos, Dexter. I recently discovered The Office, which is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Classic Barney Miller, Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, those shows are still funny as hell and always will be.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My boyfriend is a chef, so I eat sinfully good. Black and purple are my favoritecolors. Music: rock ‘n roll, not necessarily limited to classic rock; blues; reggae; sometimes folk and bluegrass; Dakhbrakha. Seriously, check out Dakhabrakha.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
In my mind and plans, there is no such future.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Probably freaking out! And burning old journals, unfinished writings and crappy failure pieces.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
No headstone! My unprocessed dead body is to be thrown into the river, to feed the fishes.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My Facebook page is probably the best place: Kimberly White, writer/artist at Purple Couchworks, as well as my Purple Couchworks page. I do have a website, purplecouchworks.com, and I am very bad about keeping it updated. I do much better with updates on Facebook.
Thank you, Fiona!