1. What book, movie, TV show, or album has changed your life, and how?
This question is easy for me: The Waves by Virginia Woolf. I first read The Waves in 2005, when I was 19 and living in a small town in North Carolina. I’d moved there to work on a large creative writing project, but I was stuck and uninspired. To say that reading The Waves for the first time was anything short of a magical, life-altering experience would be a lie. I was enraptured by it. I’m not sure I took a breathe the entire two days it took me to read it. I also cried a lot—not from sadness, but from that sense of profound fulfillment and joy that I often get when a book affects me so deeply. The Waves rekindled my inspiration to write, and, perhaps more importantly, it forever changed the way I see and experience the world. Every sensation felt different after The Waves, and even now, not a day passes that I am not reminded of a passage or image from the novel. (Other books have come close to The Waves but none quite compare: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke, Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, Magenta Soul Whip by Lisa Robertson, Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, Ulysses by James Joyce, and nearly all others by Virginia Woolf.)
2.Besides being an author, what is your fantasy job?
I am extremely lucky to be able to say that I am working my fantasy job now, as a calligrapher-graphic designer-writer hybrid. But I admit that I sometimes find myself daydreaming about a life as a pastry chef and baker, perhaps in a quaint Parisian boulangerie. I’ve been told by a friend who worked as a boulanger that it is very grueling work that requires waking up extremely early, but as this is a fantasy, I can overlook that part. Since my studio is in my home, I’m dangerously close to my kitchen at all times, and frequently take breaks from doing calligraphy to bake bread. (I try to bake most of the bread that I eat.) Kneading bread dough is my self-prescribed remedy for a sore writing hand—and it really works! I have also always loved making desserts and am famous among my friends for my lemon curd, chocolate cake, and tiramisu.
3.Who is or was your favorite pet? What made him/her so great?
When I was a kid, I had an amazing cat named Henry. As a stray kitten, he found my family one night in the middle of a thunderstorm. We heard a scratching and meowing at the door and when we opened it, Henry, drenched to the bone, leapt into our arms and licked our noses (his signature sign of affection). From that day forth he proved himself a more amazing cat every day. He could fetch catnip toys thrown onto our balcony, and when my little sister was born and brought home from the hospital, Henry, purring loudly, curled up in her cradle and sweetly licked her nose as she slept.
4. Besides writing, what other forms of art and creativity do you indulge in?
I started my career as a graphic designer and still love doing print design and branding work. (It was, in fact, my love of digital typography that got me into calligraphy.) By extension, I love all the paper arts, and at one time or another I have pursued watercolor painting, paper cutting, letterpress printing, book binding, and mixed media collage. When I was a little girl, my mom taught me how to knit and embroider, so I’ve always had a soft spot for both. While I don’t have the time to do either as much as I’d like, I do knit the occasional baby hat and embroider handkerchiefs here and there. Two of my life’s simplest pleasures are gift wrapping and baking, both of which fulfill my creative urges like nothing else. Tying a perfect bow or making the perfect three-layer birthday cake are so rewarding to me! Other creative outlets I enjoy are playing the piano (which I studied since age 6), photography, and ceramics.
5. Who's your favorite fictional character, and why?
I’ve always felt Anne of Green Gables and I are “kindred spirits” (a phrase she herself uses frequently). As a young girl, I had Anne’s feisty, stubborn attitude (still do, actually), not to mention an insatiably inquisitive and hopelessly starry-eyed nature. While I never strolled through the forest passionately reciting Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott,” I have been known to do many equally eccentric things.