Interview with Tenner Blythe Woolston!
Happy Monday to you! One of the highlights of my autumn is always planting pansies. Pansies are for "thoughts of you" in the language of flowers, and I love the fact that if you plant them in the fall in Virginia, they bloom again in the spring. (Pansies don't do that in Ohio where I grew up.) I planted orange, yellow, and blue (more purplish really) in clumps.I am getting VERY excited about this weekend, because I'll be heading to NYC's amazing store Books of Wonder for a huge signing with 10 other debut authors on 10/10/10 at 1 pm. I can't wait to meet them all, and a special shout-out to Mindi Scott, whose novel Freefall is out this week. Thanks for organizing the event, Mindi!Today I'm thrilled to host fellow Tenner and kindred spirit, Blythe Woolston. Blythe and I have many loves in common, including poetry, physics, flowers, and we're still discovering more. I always enjoy her reflections. Her amazing and intense novel, The Freak Observer, is out now. Welcome, Blythe!What's your favorite flower and why?This question stumped me for days. Whatever is blooming is always my favorite at that moment, but I finally settled on Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon)*. The scent is delicious: the structure and color dramatic. A single stem is a ready-made bouquet.(*I learned the genus and species of many wild plants when I was in high school. It is another “secret language” of flowers.)
Those are lovely! Is there a quotation you live by or have posted at your desk?I try to remember what Kurt Vonnegut wrote in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”Which book do you wish you could live inside?Ursula K. Le Guin’s Changing Planes. I could visit so many places if only I could master Sita Dulip’s method of sliding into alternative worlds.Oh, I'll have to read that one. Who's your favorite dead writer and what book of his/hers would you recommend? (We don't want to hurt the feelings of the living here!)Again, that word “favorite” ruins my productivity.Let’s just call it a book that will be a gift to anyone who reads or writes: Grendel by John Gardner.I adore Grendel -- genius!! What book have you read more than any other and why?Honestly, the dictionary. I need to consult it frequently for work; academic disciplines have specialized vocabularies. Scrabble is a contact sport in our house, too, and the dictionary is the ref. Finally, I just enjoy browsing around—it’s always worth it.Loa’s voice is so authentic and full of pain. How did you find it?All I had to do was listen. I don’t mean that in any metaphorical or mystical sense—I just listen to people, to how people struggle to communicate. That includes listening to my own conversations — internal, external, and silent. What was the hardest part of writing The Freak Observer ?Rejecting advice. I didn’t reject all advice, mind you. If editor Andrew Karre ever gives you advice, take it.It is difficult for me to reject advice because most advice is good—there are good reasons to do things differently than I do. But I have to protect my inner weirdo. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but other inner weirdos out there might.What was your favorite or least favorite scene to write?I enjoyed writing the dreams. I wanted to make them authentically dreamlike: puzzling, terrible, beautiful. Half of the dreams are taken almost verbatim from my old dream notebooks—the other half are complete inventions. I hope it’s hard to determine which is which.Authors often weave a sustaining metaphor through their work, which in yours is astrophysics. Why did you choose that metaphor and how did it help you tell your story?I don’t know that I chose the metaphor; “choice” implies intention. I never had an outline. I never had a plan. My actual behavior is more like assemblage or collage, and it’s quite dependent upon chance encounter and context. But there is no denying how much I love physics, especially as revealed through the beauty of the visible universe.Science is central to me, to how I live in the world; as a result, Loa’s story crystallized in a world where science matters. The story is really about ways of seeing and knowing the world and ourselves. You might say that science is the DNA of my character and world-building—both fictional and personal.Cool! Thanks so much for stopping by, Blythe. You can find Blythe here, at her website, or @BlytheWoolston on Twitter.