Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Bywater Visitor

 It's time for a touchdown from another fabulous Bywater author.
This time Jill Malone is dropping in to chat about... goats

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery where they put small toys, like train engines, into chocolate, and the gummi bears were the size of mice.
   In the South, she caught tree frogs, and played kickball. She has lived on the East Coast, and in Hawaii, and for the last 15 years in Spokane with her son, two old dogs, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar.
   She took Latin from a hot professor at the University of Hawaii, and had this idea for a novel. Like most writers, she has a sketchy career path.
   Red Audrey and the Roping, her first novel, was a Lambda finalist, and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction.
   Her second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, was finalist for the 2010 Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary award.
   At present, Giraffe People, her third novel, is awaiting editorial notes. Or something. If you’re curious, visit Jill's website and read her blog.

A word about goats. I'd like a pair of them - pygmy goats - for milking and general happiness. Have you ever seen them play? They like slides and climbing. They leap around. There's a youtube clip of pygmy goats frolicking to Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. I'd like those, please. 
   As an urban girl, I'm mildly horrified to find myself living in the pseudo-country. Four minutes from downtown Spokane, nevertheless, my neighbors keep chickens and a rooster. Also, a pen of black ducks. A porcupine trundles across the road two blocks over, and just at the bend, I see deer most evenings. 
   I live in this valley, beneath the train, and a creek shimmies through, fished by heron and osprey. The beds beyond my porch are filled with tulips. This is the kind of place I imagined sitting at a knot in a tree, and writing something immortal. It was always vaguely immortal, this novel, in my head when I was a child.
   That's when you believe art will be a livelihood. You'll be one of those people who frequents cafes with your cigarettes and your sipping espresso and your casual ennui. 
   Most of us don't live by our fiction. We write because we have stories, and those stories own us. I sit at my computer and the story unravels in this way that I never can explain properly. I'm sitting there, typing, and people speak. I know them. I can hear their various voices. For months, I'll hang with them and experience what they experience. 
   A teacher, years ago, told me she didn't really know her characters until she could go to a restaurant and order a meal they would eat.
   Maybe we just parachute in. Find ourselves in some unknown place, among some unknown people, and have to puzzle it out. 
   Like moving into this house in December, and finding the Japanese travel god the previous occupant left in the closet. Or his paint bucket of coins - foreign and domestic; several water bladders and a coil of climbing rope. An adventuring teacher? A climber who loved World Market? A really thirsty coin collector? Who the hell was this guy, and why did he leave this haven?

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