Ah, Valentine’s Day; the day of lovers. Lovers of significant others, or – for us romantically unattached people – lovers of other significant things. Things like, say, books! And/or blogging about books, and/or chatting it up with other people who also love books, blogging, or combining the twain. For people such as these (attached or otherwise), Katelyn of Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa of Alexa Loves Books have put together a love-filled weekend blog hop by the name of The Book Blogger Love-A-Thon!
Everyone who signed up got paired with another bookish blogger for a blind date— well, no, it was actually just an interview swap. But my Love-A-Thon partner and I hit it off quite well, carrying on in precisely the way I once upon a time made friends with my beloved writing bestie, so if we’re calling this interview a friend date, I think we can likewise call it a success. Presenting my exchange with Mara of the Book Marauder blog, Part 1!
(Edit: Stay tuned after the interview — that is, keep scrolling down — for my response to the Love-A-Thon’s first Mini Challenge: Book Spine Poetry!)
Danielle: Hello, Mara! Thank you for joining me. First things first: What is the most precious object in your possession, and why do you value it so highly? (No, I’m totally not planning to have any hired thugs steal it for ransom money; don’t be absurd. *looks oh-so innocent*)
Mara: (Can we please note that you chose to start this with a really meaningful question and the first one I was going to ask was “So, N*SYNC or Backstreet Boys as a writing soundtrack?” haha)
It’s probably my sister’s copy of “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyesky. It’s the most trashed and coffee-stained book I have ever held in my hands, and usually my books need to be super clean (I think it’s gotten to a point where I need help ahhhh), but it just has so much character. I actually had a fire scare at my place recently, and it was the first thing I grabbed when I bolted down the stairs, which did surprise me. I expected I’d go for my phone or laptop, but nope, rescued that battered and dog-eared book instead.
So let me ask you, what are the top three things you’d save if your house caught fire?
Danielle: (Lol! For the record, Backstreet Boys, all the way!)
A house fire: One of my greatest realistic fears. o.o I’m pretty compulsive about the state of my belongings, too, so I get what you mean about wanting your books clean and tidy. Know what’s worse for books than coffee stains, though? Burning to ash! In the event of a fire…
1) I’d go for my flashdrive first, as it contains a careful backup of my cherished documents and pictures. I’m pretty sure my mind would snap completely if I lost those irreplaceable files.
2) Hmm, now it gets trickier. What to save next? Ahh, my ocarina! With my house burned to the ground, I’ll need the reassurance of music in my life. And, y’know, trying to lug the piano out the door might not work out so well.
3) As there can only be three, we’ll make the last item my “Wicked” hoodie. I’ll need the cozy comfort only a hoodie can bring, plus it comes with the lovely memory of when I bought it – the first (and so far only) time I’ve seen “Wicked” onstage.
Speaking of lovely memories – or perhaps not so lovely – what’s the earliest thing you can remember?
Mara: (It’s uncanny how this is actually 100% legit the first memory I have and how I will help Bruno become famous with it ha!)
The first thing I can remember is me sitting in a stroller, looking up at a big palm tree overflowing with monkeys, and being surrounded by tigers, giraffes and bears. Well, you certainly ask yourself what a little girl would be doing in the presence of such dangerous animals, and so did I in my 2-year-old mind, but turns out it was only a toy store and my mum was buying a Christmas present for me (a very pretty monkey I named Mr. Nielson), convinced I was asleep. I feel like that monkey has been a constant part of my life ever since. For 20+ years now. Wow. He is watching me right now. And he looks really creepy now that it’s old and faded and just STARING all the time. It used to be so much more, with all that kid imagination turning him into anything he wanted to be. (Am I the only one who just KNOWS that this interview will be a walk down nostalgia lane somehow? haha)
Have you had something that long that you can’t part with? Or something that represents your inner child or helps you connect with it? I feel like that’s why I read so obsessively, because it seems to be the only time I can connect with my mini-me’s full-on imagination now that I seem to have grown up. It’s like books (and Mr. Nielson) are my own personal Peter Pan.
Danielle: Look, Bruno! You’re famous! Do you forgive me for leaving you to die in a burning house, now? ^^ …Aw, he looks so defeated. Fine! I choose him over my “Wicked” hoodie. I hope that cheers him up, some. Related note: We should totally include pics of Bruno and Mr. Nielson in our blog posts!
I don’t think I do have many things I’ve had longer than Bruno. (He’s been with me since I was 7.) But I’ve found that objects aren’t the best thing to bring back my inner child: It’s music! When I hear songs from waaay back in my childhood, it’s like emotional time-traveling. It’s crazy how old melodies and lyrics can stick in my head, even if I haven’t thought about them in a decade or more!
This calls for a musical question. (Heh, heh, our readers are getting a good look at how our minds move between topics, aren’t they?) What is the last song you listened to, and how did it make you feel?
Mara: (I’ve just asked Mr. Nielson, and he is ready to make his net debut any time we want him too! I’m pretty sure Bruno needs the confidence boost, too, after you left him to die in an inferno!)
By the way, I had to google ocarina (I am a failure, I know), and wow, it looks awesome. I wish I could play something as unusual, all I ever got were violin lessons. I’m sighing defeatedly right now, just so you know. (How long have you played?)
The last song I listened to was… drum roll… the Star Wars title theme Revenge of the Sith style. Yeah. I’m THAT cool. It always manages to make me feel empowered and, funnily enough, very on-topic, nostalgic. I always wanted to be Queen Amidala (saying “I always wanted to be Princess Leia” wasn’t an option because yes, I am too young to work the original trilogy, so there goes my awesomeness again).
What’s your favorite writing soundtrack? And, because I’m endlessly curious, what’s the one instrument you wish you’d learned but didn’t?
Danielle: Ah, the violin! My youngest sister’s played since she was 2-years-old, the little prodigy, while my other little sister played flute, piccolo, and bassoon. I had twelve years of piano lessons, with some clarinet, tenor saxophone, and percussion mixed in for flavor. I didn’t know what an ocarina was until my first summer working at a Renaissance Faire, a couple years ago, and my parents bought one for me as a birthday present last year. So I’ve been teaching myself how to play for the last few months. All my previous music experience is helping the process along, I think. : )
My favorite writing soundtrack… I listened to a lot of “Pirates of the Caribbean” during last National Novel Writing Month (are you familiar with NaNoWriMo? ^^), since that project was set on (and beneath) the sea. I’m also a big fan of the “Lord of the Rings” scores. Other favorite songs include “Tarnished Silver” by Heather Dale, “Dancing Through Life” from “Wicked”, a whoooole lot of songs from Disney… But it’s no use trying to write when these are playing, because I’ll be too distracted by loving the music!
As for an instrument I wish I’d learned to play, I really wish I could master the lute. I plan to learn someday, so I can be like my minstrel characters! They are to me as Queen Amidala is to you. ^_^
Speaking of characters (hello, one of my favorite topics!), who are your top three favorite literary characters of all time? …or of today, since I know how these lists can change!
Mara: I just love NANOWRIMO! Ahh! And I also adore film soundtracks for reading and writing! Have you listened to the X-Men: First Class one? It’s perfection. (Can you blame Wicked for distracting you, though? I can’t sit still when Defying Gravity comes on, I have to belt out the lyrics no matter where I’m at.)
I’m sorry this took me so long to answer, but I had some serious discussion going on with practically everyone I know as to which characters to put on my top 3 list.
(It still breaks my heart to leave out so many *sits in corner and sobs*) Well, here goes nothing:
1. Holden Caulfield (I know that’s pretty cliché, but damn, The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books. People either love or hate Holden, but I think that’s what makes him such a great character to begin with – he gets a reaction out of everyone. I think it’s super important for a character to leave a mark, and everyone has had a little Holden inside of them at some time in their lives, and the fact he’s been persevering for so long makes him my top choice, I think. ARGH THIS IS SO HARD.)
2. Gandalf (because he’s Gandalf. He’s got some of the best lines in the entire book and he’s been an inspiration for so many other characters in all kinds of genres (*cough*Dumbledore*cough*). He’s almost like a real guiding light to the reader, and I love how he just “is”. He just steps right out of the pages.)
3. Richard Gansey (The Raven Boys – because, well, I love him to bits. He’s not necessarily up there with the other greats, but he’s my most personal choice, because I really, really wish I had his sense of wonder and adventureness (is that even a word? I think I just made that up). What really made me just sit there in awe after I finished that book was how it didn’t take anything to imagine him. He just sort of forms in your head and stays right there and stays with you long after you’re done reading.)
My explanations are really off, but it’s SO HARD TO PICK JUST THREE. I think I’m going to stay in this little cocoon of an existential crisis for some more.
But first: as a writer, what do you think is the hardest part of “creating” a character? What makes them real in your opinion? And how do you go about making them work on page?
(Is it possible for books to attack you? I think they know I left out all of their characters on this list… oh God, I feel so bad…)
How did I answer Mara’s character creation query? Hop on over to her blog, Book Marauder, for our Book Blogger Love-A-Thon interview, Part 2!
Edit: And now, for my contribution to the a Love-A-Thon Mini Challenge: My first-ever attempt at Book Spine Poetry!
“Untitled Masterpiece (Just the Perfect Name)”
Fair is the rose.
Winter’s child, one of two minds.
All good children…
…And then there were none.
This is all.