1. What did you most enjoy writing?
Probably The Crystal Tree, my first book. It took me years to think of the ideas and 15 writing days to turn the outline into a 300-page manuscript. It was like a 2-week orgasm, one of the peak experiences of my life. It has serious flaws, both in usability and in cross-cultural awareness, but there are still good things in it.
2. How did you meet gramina?
We met online 12 years ago on a CompuServe forum. She’d just started posting again after a hiatus of several years, but we started talking in chat because I wanted to get her permission to flirt with Paul. We connected strongly that first night. Within weeks I sent her an email saying that I was falling in love with her. At her suggestion, we spent a great deal of time and energy getting to know each other through emails and phone conversations before we met in person. (At that point, we were living on opposite coasts.) Then when we met we were both almost too polite to do anything about it. Luckily, we overcame this obstacle. Oh my God, did we overcome it.(fanning self)
3. How did Gabriel get to have a "boy's" name?
I knew I was picking up a black kitten from the tribe of wild felines living on a nearby farm, but had only vague ideas for a name. When I saw her, I realized this little fuzzball had to be related to my mother’s Angel, a feral cat who had been lured from the woods to live with her. Angel had had several litters before she came in from the cold; Gabriel almost has to be a descendant, given her extraordinary fur length, conformation, tree-climbing skills, and beautiful face. (The two are almost identical in photos, but I would certainly be able to tell them apart.) So I knew she needed an angel name. In the Protestant Bible, only 2 angels, other than Lucifer, are named: Michael and Gabriel. Michael is my father’s name. Gabriel it was—and since angels are sexless and I was getting her spayed, I kept it in the masculine form. My genderqueer kitty.
4. If you could get rid of one allergy, which would it be, and how would you enjoy not having it?
The celery allergy, since so many of my other allergies branch off from it. (Coriander, cumin, parsley….) And I would celebrate by having meals in all the restaurants I can’t even enter now—Indian, Mexican, seafood—with as many of my friends as I could gather.
5. How did you learn to read Tarot cards? What motivated you?
I taught myself when I was 19 or 20. At this distance of time, it’s hard to remember why. I was always interested in myths, symbols, the Jungian collective unconscious. Tarot was a natural step. I was doing it full-time, for my living, within a year. My first female lover (though not the first woman I was in love with) was another reader at the same restaurant. Four years later, I met my husband when I was working at a psychic fair and he came to get his cards read. Tarot strongly influenced my first two books, as well. Clearly it has been an important part of my lfe.
1) You mentioned somewhere that you are a "devout, almost orthodox Christian". As you can imagine, this rather surprised me; I then realized that you saying that is not really any information at all - how you define your Christianity in a way that allows you to reconcile your beliefs in your deity with the other stuff in your life (fwiw, you are not the only devout Christian on my f-list)?
I preach Christ crucified -- the sinless Son of God sacrificed and resurrected to wipe out the sins of the world. That's core Christian doctrine for most denominations. I also believe that Christianity is not a set of arid doctrines, but a living relationship, and that that living relationship is best expressed by doing what Jesus commanded us to do.
So far, so good. Sarah Palin could probably say the same. However, I disagree violently with her and with the fundamentalist churches of my upbringing about a thousand details of how these doctrines should be lived out. Moreover, I am no longer a fundamentalist: I don't believe that the Bible is the sole, errorless word of God. Nor do I read it with the usual Baptist mental filters.
My take on the Atonement is probably also a bit weird; I tend to see it as a way the Creator could get inside the box to fix a design flaw. Although I do think Christ's sacrifice was essential, I don't by any means think the the afterlife will exclude non-Christians. IMO, following Jesus is much more about doing as Jesus did -- feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, loving your neighbor as yourself -- than about joining a particular church or having a particular sort of conversion experience.
Oh, and although I subscribe to the Apostles' Creed, I tend to genderqueer that, since I don't believe the universe was made by a male. (A third of the Biblical imagery about God is feminine; see Virginia Mollenkott for details.) I think gender on the Divine level is at least as complex as on the level of creation; some animals have a great many more genders than just our binaries.
Clearly I have challenged or discarded many of the sexual behavioral constraints usually associated with faith. I don't see anything wrong with polyamory, consensual BDSM, and homosexuality. However, I do conduct my sexual connections with love, respect, and concern for the individual.
In terms of churches: I realized at about age 19 that even the more (politically and theologically) liberal Baptist churches were not likely to work for me, so I sent a long time reading and searching. The answer for this mystical/practical high-church Baptist was the Society of Friends, although I also prayed various liturgical prayers from the Roman Catholic Divine Office. Since I became involved with Michele I started attending an Episcopal church with her, which I loved and even joined. I truly love the liturgy and music, and they take me the same place as the silent meditation of a Quaker meeting.
2) Do you actually collect pens, or at least have a favorite?
I really collect pens—fountain pens and rollerballs. Also ink in a delicious variety of colors. Given how rarely I ever write anything by hand these days, I suspect that collection is going to go bye-bye sometime soon. As soon as I get to it. I do still write lists and some poetry by hand.
For ordinary rollerball pens, I like Pilot Precise and Uniball Vision Elite best. My favorite reasonably priced fountain pens include the Lamy Vista and the truly stunning Pelikan Pharo. I found a fabulous Mont Blanc pen at a very reasonable price, years ago. An amazing writing instrument.
3) Who is your current favorite F&SF writer?
4) Comics and graphic novels: great art or mediocre mixed media?
It all depends on the person or people doing them. The combination of words and images has extraordinary power and potential for artistry. That’s not new; take a look at Chinese scrolls of the Yuan period, which unite painting, poetry, and calligraphy.
1. What will be your next large writing project (freelance or for fun)?
Right now I am focusing solely on writing that will pay. So I’m doing smaller projects and Lorelei stories. Next big one might be an update of the first Lorelei book. I also have a novel on the back burner.
2. When you're really scared about something in life, what are your best two ways of regrounding yourself?
Depends on what it is. If it’s old stuff, inside me, I have learned to step aside from the pain and regulate my mood with books, music, or movies. I can also *do* something—almost anything, as long as I regain agency. (Helplessness is my worst fear, so showing myself that I am not helpless invariably works.) If it’s current issues in the 3D world, I fight fear with research. The more I know, the better. Reading etc. also helps with that, especially if I can find something thematically resonant with what I fear.
Turning to others for comfort is not my native style, but it’s something I am slowly learning how to do. Even so, it may take a long time for me even to realize that maybe I could share this with my nearest and dearest.
Oh, and helping someone else can almost always take me out of a bad place.
3. You've been a spiritual help to me over the years... what's your current spiritual framework?
About the same as it has been for the past 30 years. See my answer to the_ogre.
4. What do you see as the toughest part of maintaining a stable multi-partner poly household?
It’s not the sex. It’s the housework.
5. Several times over the past 8 years we've come close to meeting in person, and each time you've had to cancel or abort. Have there been some reasons, or has it been due to random coincidences?
We’ve met now, so it’s moot. But remember that I am broke at a level that makes a substantial drain from lunch in a restaurant and a trip across the bay. I’m also an introvert, so meeting new people is always difficult.
If I owe you answers, you might remind me.