Archive for ‘guests’

February 24, 2011

servile masses, arise, arise!: meet Dennis

by Megan Abbott

Today we bring a post from novelist Dennis Tafoya, the author of two dynamite crime novels, Dope Thief and The Wolves of Fairmount Park.

I first met Dennis at the Mysery Writers of America Edgars Award ceremony, when Dennis was a Best First Novel honoree.

Our paths have crossed many times and every time we find ourselves wending down dark and occasionally (as in: always) wooly paths to our secret obsessions, such as the Zodiac killer, UFOs and George Hodel’s house:

We begin with Dennis’s kind compliance with our blog questionnaire, below.

We are lucky to have him visiting him today for many reasons, including learning about his predilection for peanut butter parfaits—that fact alone earns him a hug.

1. what is your greatest fear?

Sharks, followed by spiders. Just seeing a spidershark would kill me.

2. what is your favorite way of spending time?

Laughing, especially with my kids. They’re hysterical.

3. what is your most treasured possession?

I’m terrible at holding on to stuff. I have a box full of little things my kids gave me over the years with painted rocks and things, so I’ll go with that.

4. when and where were you happiest?

Other than boring suburban dad stuff about my kids, I would say getting off the train in New York to sign my book contract. I felt like I really belonged in the city for the first time.

5. what is your greatest indulgence?

Barbecue from Virgil’s on West 44th. Alternately, the Peanut Buster Parfait, from Dairy Queen.

6. where would you like to live?

I don’t think one place is going to do it for me. I love the city and the desert and the ocean. I think given endless resources I’d go back and forth between New York City, Martha’s Vineyard and Vegas.

7. what is the quality you are most drawn to a person?

It’s some combination of tough-minded smartass and essential kindness. It’s rare, but I just find it irresistible.

8. how would you like to die?

Of really, really old age. I want to live long enough that people are shot up with medico-nano-bots that keep us young and healthy forever. I want to live long enough to find out how everything turns out.

9. what is your secret superstition?

When I’m on a plane, I have to watch out the window as we land and take off. My watching ensures that everything will go well.

10. what was the best dream and worst nightmare you ever had?

I have terrible nightmares. I don’t think I’ve ever had a pleasant dream, though I’ve had boring ones, mostly about work. I think my worst nightmare was somebody with a huge, misshapen head looming over my bed. I put that one in my first novel, I think to exorcise it.

11. what song do you most hear in your head?

It’s a toss-up between the “Internationale” and the theme from the Woody Woodpecker show.

12. what do you read/watch/listen to when you are feeling badly?

Books: I’ve re-read The End of Vandalism, by Tom Drury, a bunch of times. It’s a great book, and for some reason it’s become like literary comfort food for me. There are some E.L. Doctorow and Annie Proulx books like that, too. Music: “Wolves,” by Phosphorescent, “NYC” by Interpol, “No Cars Go” by Arcade Fire. Movie: The Pianist, I think because it makes my problems seem pretty tame.

13. what do you consider to be the greatest elixir/restorative?

A hug.

14. what’s something you never told anyone?

Man, do I like hugs.

Follow Dennis on his blog, or on Twitter.

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February 17, 2011

fancy panties and wolves: meet Karolina!

by Megan Abbott

Today, we welcome a special guest, novelist and screenwriter Karolina Waclawiak. I first discovered Karolina through “Safe As Houses: An Ode to Britain’s History in 1:12 Scale,” a fascinating piece she wrote for The Believer, where she serves as assistant editor.

The essay tells the story of the elaborate special dollhouse created by famed architect the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary in the 1920s. The greatest craftsmen and artists of the day participated in the effort, contributing everything from a working lift and a 1923 Silver Ghost limousine to a fully stocked wine cellar complete with 1,200 thimblefuls of champagnes.

Best of all, the house includes a 171-volume library of rarely-seen, original short works written exclusively for the dollhouse by world- famous writers, from Arthur Conan Doyle to Thomas Hardy (Virginia Woolf declined to participate). The piece was haunting, lovely, like peering through the glowing windows of the dollhouse itself.  And we’re lucky enough to have Karolina herself here today….

When Sara and I started the blog, we conjured the idea of having guests, when they arrive, answer a questionnaire, and Karolina kindly complied:

  1. what is your greatest fear? Wasting time.
  2. what is your favorite way of spending time? Being outside and taking everything in. I like to observe locations and I use that in my writing. I’m a very visual person and writer.
  3. what is your most treasured possession? My lime tree and blood orange tree. I live in Brooklyn now after a long stint in Los Angeles so it’s necessary for me to be able to have some memory of it in my house at all times.
  4. when and where were you happiest? Yikes. I’ll let you know when it happens.
  5. what is your greatest indulgence? Fancy panties
  6. where would you like to live? Somewhere where the temperature never dips below 65 degrees and never hits above 75 degrees. Let me know if you’ve heard of such a place and I’ll be there tomorrow.
  7. what is the quality you are most drawn to a person? Curiosity.
  8. how would you like to die? I’m not sure exactly but it should warrant a Dateline episode.
  9. what is your secret superstition? I’m afraid of cats crossing my path. My Polish father taught me to make a scissor cutting motion after one does and spit three times. I’ve done it in front of many people so I’m not sure how secret it is.
  10. what was the best dream and worst nightmare you ever had? I used to have two recurring dreams as kid. One was awesome. One was terrible. The awesome one was based on the movie Fortress. I frequently have dreams based on movies I’ve seen. Anyway, it involved me swimming in caves. I know it’s supposed to be “best dream” and it’s from a movie about a kidnapping but trust me, constantly revisiting cave pools is pretty awesome. Worst, same dream era – I’d say age 12 – I’m wandering through a burning city where packs of wolves were being deployed to find all the children and kill them. I was alone in the city and trying to find my way out, everything was grey or on fire. Somehow I would always stumble out the other side of this place and onto my neighborhood street where it was fall and all the bright foliage was so beautiful and formed perfect lollipops of colors but they always started melting. It was the basis for the first short story I ever wrote and after I wrote it I never had the dream again. I would like to know what they both mean.
  11. what song do you most hear in your head? Upside Down by Diana Ross
  12. what do you read/watch/listen to when you are feeling badly? Oh man, Morrissey for sure. And the Magnetic Fields. I like to wallow.
  13. what do you consider to be the greatest elixir/restorative? Walking. Being in nature. Sun on your face. Everything my mother always says works. It works. Oh and sex, but she told me that too.
  14. what’s something you never told anyone? I live in an unhealthy haze of nostalgia.

Follow Karolina at @believekarolina on Twitter.