<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Monday, February 02, 2004
5 Questions

(Via Sarah, who got it from E. L. Chen.)

1. Is there a moment that you look back on and cringe, thinking "dear God, I was (am) such a GEEK"?

You mean I have to choose just one?

Let's see. There was the time I wore my Bajoran earring to high school (official Star Trek merchandise, no less). The night of the formal (aka, the prom) I think I was reading the Rumor Mill and working on my latest short story. I pondered long and hard about certain metals being able to assist in psychic transmissions (as in, if the psychic person was wearing a gold necklace, anyone else wearing gold would be more likely to hear her). I wanted a headpiece like the Empress in The Neverending Story had, or, failing that, a golden circlet. I spent many long, long hours in class lost inside a total wish-fulfillment science fantasy world, and wrote about 40,000 words about the place. And, of course, there was my obsession with Knight Rider.

(Damn, I still love KITT.)

The geekiness has definitely not gone away. If anything, I've encouraged it and reveled in it. I'm glad to say, though, that the cringing is now optional.

2. When did you know that 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, you were going to be a writer, dammit?

May 31, 1996. No, seriously. That was the day that I submitted my first "real" short story, "Spontaneous Things," to a publisher. The magazine was The Leading Edge--you know, that one published by Brigham Young University. I remember liking their guidelines, and chosing them over Asimov's and F&SF and all those other places that a 15-year-old could send her first submission because The Leading Edge said that they wanted to see interesting fiction from new writers. That's me, I thought, and away it went.

I remember being absolutely convinced that they would buy that story. The fact that months upon months passed without a rejection arriving in the mail did little to worry me, because I was sure that they were spending all that time talking about how wonderful my story was and preparing to send me a cheque. I was already planning how I was going to tell my friends that I was going to be a real writer--a published writer. Oh, it was going to be so very good.

And my lack of rejection and excitement over my future career allowed me to keep writing and submitting (Realms of Fantasy received my second submission, and the Canadian zine TransVersions my third), so that by the time I discovered that The Leading Edge had in fact rejected me and that the rejection had become lost in the mail (what luck--I never did receive it) I had a good handful of other stories written and out in the mail. And I was convinced that each and every one of those magazines would buy the stories that I submitted to them, and was utterly unphased by rejection.

It's probably a good thing that I started submitting when I did, simply because I had no idea what I was getting into. I was so absolutely sure that I was going to be a writer, that what I was writing was different and new and fantastic, that it didn't occur to me to doubt myself. And by the time that doubts started to creep in ... well, I'd already been submitting for years. I'd learned so much. I was writing better stories--stories that might actually be worth reading. The idea of stopping submitting, or stopping writing, was almost inconceivable.

3. Aliens take over the world, and in exchange for all the help you've been giving them over the years, they give you Hollywood as a way of saying thanks. You now have the best and brightest of the filmmaking world at your feet, and they have to do what they tell you or they'll get vaporized. All those times you kept thinking "damn, I wish they'd make this book into a movie" have led up to this moment. So, what movie do you have them make, and who do you insist be involved?

Well, the thing is that I rarely wish that anyone would turn a book that I love into a movie. I often love it so much as it is that I fear to have anyone else mess with it. And besides, so many of the things that I love about the book might be lost (the wording, the descriptions, the structure...).

That being said, the first thing that popped into my head when I read this question was Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider. Who knew? McCaffrey's books--the Pern books especially--were very important to me during my teenaged years, something I think that many other young, female SF/F fans can relate to. Danger and romance and dragons and flying ... if done right, it could be amazing.

On further thought, I'd also love to see what could be done with something like Octavia Butler's Wild Seed. I think that with a skillfull enough actress and the skill of makeup artists and special effects people, it's now possible to portray an interesting and believable Anyanwu. They'd have to get together a group of really skilled actors, though, to play Doro. If it could be done, though? Oh, wow.

4. What's the happiest you've ever been?

It's frightening how blank my mind is right now.

How happy have I been? Very happy. Yet there is no one moment, no single time in my life that I can point to and say "There, that is it. That's the happiest I've ever been." I have been given a lot; I'm very lucky, and I think I may only just be truly waking up to that fact.

Writing-wise, there have been many highlights: Getting into Clarion. Times at Clarion itself. Selling my first short story. Nearly every short story sale since then. The Asimov Award. Conventions. That indescribable feeling of finishing a story and knowing that it's good.

Sometimes it's just the littlest things that make me happy. Laughing about something until my sides hurt and my legs collapse and I am a helpless, giggling lump on the floor. Reading a book in the desert warmth as the sun goes down over the mountains. Watching small birds. Which, really, is what the apocalyptic "A Last Taste of Sweetness" is all about:

This fleeting moment. The feel of heavy eyelids and slow fingers. Pancakes and syrup, strawberries and candle flame.

(Etc. I really shouldn't give away the endings to stories, I suppose, even if they are my own.)

5. You save the life of a brilliant and influential (and wealthy) inventor by pushing him out of the path of a falling piano. He's so grateful that he gives you access to his time machine and tells you that you can have a casual conversation with anyone in the world, living or dead. Who do you pick, and why?

First: time machine! Woo! I'd have a lot of fun with that (all while avoiding stepping on butterflies, killing my ancestors, etc., to be sure).

As for a conversation (and you'll enjoy this, Sarah) the person who keeps popping into my mind is Emily Bronte. I did a lot of reading about her and her sisters in November or so, and she was a fascinating person. The whole family was, really, even the crazy ones. Charlotte and Anne seem interesting enough, but Emily seems to have been someone absolutely in love with the land around her, lived through her writing, and was enormously creative. Her writing is, of course, gorgeous (even though Heathcliff is the type of character that irritates me no end). She was capable, self-sufficient, fierce and almost totally reclusive. And, like me, to an extent, she seems to have understood silence. Perhaps we wouldn't so much as talk, when I arrived with my time machine, as sit and read together. And it would be lovely.

1 - Leave a comment, or send an email, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:14 PM


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