What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
Writing all day, and then hanging out with my husband and/or my writing buddies that evening. Seriously. Right now, I'm fixated on a writing retreat I'm going on next year in Taos, New Mexico. That's looking like a pretty perfect place to me. Check it out: http://taoswebb.com/
What is your favorite onomatopoeia?
I remember my ten grade English teacher writing that word on the board. He underlined POE in it, and then launched us into a discussion of Edgar Allan Poe. Thus I never really learned what onomatopoeia meant, but I have a vague sense that there's a lot of it in Poe's poem "The Bells." Let's look it up. Aha, yes, here's the beginning of it:
Hear the sledges with the bells -I like that, don't you?
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
What color best describes your personality and why?
I do not believe for a second that colors accurately describe personality. I can tell you my favorite color, however: turquoise. Unhappily, I don't feel comfortable wearing a lot of turquoise. I wear a lot of black. Now, you'll say that black describes my personality. I don't think it does, however. It's just a really easy and beautiful color to wear.
What song can you relate to the most?
Hooray, Book Muncher, you have asked me a question that I can brazenly work around to talking about my book, Extraordinary. Thank you.
Extraordinary was inspired in part by the song "For Good," from the musical Wicked. Go listen to it here at this link, where (because this is a clip from a rehearsal), you'll also learn a bit about the musical if you don't already know of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwpKB-sj7GI
There I was, watching the musical Wicked (from the novel by Gregory Maguire, musical adaptation by Stephen Schwartz, with book by Winnie Holzman). We’d gotten to the penultimate scene where Glinda and Elphaba sing "For Good":
Like a stream that meets a boulderI was in tears before they reached “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” For me, the play had gone beyond entertainment and arrived at that ultimate aim of all art: raw emotional truth.
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
Wicked and “For Good” made me want to try to write a novel that would go to that same core place. It would be about an enormously important friendship between two teenage girls, one more pivotal than a romantic love affair. This friendship would test both girls to their limits, and would force them to grow, not just into maturity, but into better selves than they could ever have imagined becoming alone.
So, in short, I related so well to this song that I wrote an entire book in homage to it.
If you could live during any time period, which would it be?
I was asked this same question during my freshman year of college. I was taking the train to New York City with my friend Noelle for a day of shopping and theater, and on the train we sat with another pair of girls, one of whom asked this question. Poor thing, she was just trying to have some interesting conversation. She was, I later realized, a very romantic girl, and full of the interesting historical information she'd been studying lately and was in love with.
But I wasn't the slightest bit romantic; I am as practical a person as you will ever find. So I couldn't have that conversation, even for fun. I said, "Well, I don't understand how any woman in her right mind could want to live in any time but now."
Which brought the conversation to a crashing halt. And truly, any woman would have to be insane to want to go far back in time. (Except, perhaps, for an evening or two during which you could wear a really pretty ball gown.) Even if you were a wealthy woman -- and God help you, going back in time as a woman if you're not from the upper-classes -- your life would be pretty grim in all sorts of ways.
I was reading a friend's in-progress historical novel recently for critique, and in the course of it, our hero was wounded. In the next scene, a woman went to work on him, and the first thing she did was summon water to clean him up. "No!" I wrote in red in the margin. "In 1770, she would have no concept of germs or of the importance of cleanliness. Plus, water would be hard to come by; she can't just turn on the faucet. In fact, you might want to reconsider giving him Our Hero this grave wound at all, because, chances are? If you're going to be historically accurate, he'd die of it."
All of which is true. During the Civil War, a full century later, doctors were taking their bloody hands from one patient to the next, without pause.
So, I'll stay right here in the 21st century, except again, I wouldn't mind the chance to wear this dress from 1868: