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This interview of me by [ profile] charlottecooper is now up at Her questions are so juicy and good.

I'm just back from housesitting in the hilltowns, where a tiny spider slid in the air in front of my face on a strand of web that was the same color and consistency of my new silver hairs. The tough old goat blocked the door and leaned against my legs so I couldn't leave the barn until I rubbed her knobby back. The donkey ate grain from the palm of my hand and tried to get out of the fence by sticking his very big head through the gate. The chickens went in at night, as requested, mostly, even if they did lay only three eggs every day instead of four. The dog was devoted and the cats were polite. Potato bugs were numerous, and the smaller ones flew.

My initials are in the concrete of the hearth, along with others, including the paw prints of much-loved dogs who are no longer with us, with the date: 9/90. Hard to believe that it's been almost thirteen years since I lived there. The chickens live in the toolshed where I used to write. That's the reason it has electricity, although I didn't dig the ditch for the line.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-21 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So glad you got to be harrangued by attention-seeking animals. It's nice to see how appreciated one is, and there's no dishonesty amongst animals.

Ooh, except that (and this is on-topic) my dogs used to always sneak the chicken's eggs at my parents' house. I caught Dolly coming out of the chicken coop once, and I guess she knew she was going to get grumbled at. To avoid the lecture, she tried to covertly drop the egg from her mouth to the soft dirt, then kind of hovered over it like she was just casually lying down--though she was squatting exactly an egg's width off the ground in some weird doggy-jitsu stance. It was so very sweet and comical that I cracked the egg for her and gave her lots of praise.

Anyway, maybe the dogs there figured you didn't know the routine and wouldn't miss one silly egg a day.

Very glad you're getting further attention from abroad, as well. :) Woohoo!!

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-21 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can see that poor dog, caught in the act! I've tried moves like that drop the egg and casually squat above it thing when I've been caught misbehaving -- not everybody is as forgiving as you, but, then, I'm not a dog. Two of the dogs were away, and the one hanging out with me couldn't get into the shed, so I'm pretty sure it was a matter of production, not pilfering.

I was the scourge of the potato beetles, who no doubt did not appreciate me!

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-21 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yummy interview! I wish more interviewers asked such good questions of writers. And I wish more writers had such interesting answers to offer their interviewers.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-21 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Misia. Charlotte's really good, isn't she? Having gone through interviews when I've had to scramble to even fathom the point of what someone's trying to ask makes me appreciate that a lot.

I've been trying not to hold my breath waiting for the Summer issue of Bitch to come out with your review of the book, too.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-21 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A goat! Hurray! There used to be goats down the street from my parents' house, but they're gone now.

A little off-topic, but...

[ profile] ericaceous and I persuaded our book group to agree to read Venus of Chalk for August.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-21 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, yay! Now that a *very* lovely thing!!! Thanks.

I've told you -- yes? -- that I'm definitely reading at Giovanni's Room at 5:30 on Sunday, July 11, directly after the end of the Nolose conference? I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to get from the hotel to the the bookstore.

That's the end of a little reading tour -- I should post the whole thing here soon.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-22 08:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes! We plugged your reading in person too, though it seems July is a busy month. Still have to go plug it on the mailing list.

And we're not precisely sure how we're getting there after NOLOSE either. But there's a PATCO train from NJ (train is 6 miles or so away from the hotel) that stops 2 blocks away from Gio's Room--so as long as we can get a cab or ride from the hotel to the train, we're golden. It seems like one of those should be relatively easy to procure.

My rare optimistic side is imagining that no one will have to take the train there because so many car-enabled people will want to drive from the hotel to the reading!

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-22 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for the plugging, and I'm really glad that you're coming It would be SO great to have a big gaggle of the carful carting us to the bookstore and availing themselves of one more fabulous event -- not sure how to get folks collectively thrilled, eager and informed enough to do that... but here's hoping.

That's really good info about the PATCO train. I'm coming from Baltimore early on Saturday morning ([ profile] misia is being kind enough to put me up and get me to the Amtrak station), and I'm really going to try to get to the hotel in time to hear Nomy perform -- I've never heard her, and I'd really like to. So I was thinking to take Amtrak to Philly, and then...? A ride seems like it might be tough Saturday morning, but I've heard rumors that Greyhound might get me close enough to the hotel for a reasonable cab, and I'll check out the Patco thing, too. Yikes!

Then I'm on a panel that I'm very excited about that ends, I think at 2:30, and so have that challenge of getting, carless and unfamiliar with the territory, to the reading in Philly by 5:30.

So, it'll be an adventure. But there's a reason I wrote a book featuring a bus -- the budget fat literary traveller. I'm really looking forward to the readings, and the company throughout, that's for sure.

Transportation stuff

Date: 2004-06-22 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Now it looks like there will at least be a triumvirate from NOLOSE there: [ profile] amarama will come with us, I think.

Transportation to the hotel *is* a problem. To take grayhound to Jersey, you would first need to take any local train to the Greyhound station, which is fortunately free with your amtrak ticket. Or, for $5.50 you could take the airport train to the airports (which, naturally is half an hour in completely the wrong direction) and then take a shuttle to the hotel for $15 (according to the hotel). I have no idea how to find out how that shuttle thing works, though.

To take the PATCO you would similarly need to take the local train to the PATCO station and then pay $2.50 or so to get to the station about 6 miles away from the hotel. My colleague here at work says that it is pretty impossible to get a cab from the train station in her experience (she take the train from there every day). Though maybe if you pre-arranged it with a local company, you'd have better luck than trying to call once you got to the station (which was her experience). I'm just not sure who would be truly local for that area of Jersey.

Schedule for the airport line:
30th street is the Amtrak station. Also, the other train schedules are on this website.

Woodcrest is the station closest to the hotel. It looks like trains leave about every 12 minutes on Sat AM.

Let me know if you need any more info on public transit stuff, I'd be glad to help.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-22 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, and assuming a worst-case scenario where no car-enabled people are heading over to Philly, we would love to come with you on the train.

I'm sure we would all be setting out at the same time anyway! The trains leave every 20 minutes on Sundays, and take about 20 minutes to get to center city. The unknown quantity is the hotel-to-woodcrest station leg, but I assume that a cab can be procured from the hotel without great difficulty. So a three hour window should be no problem at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2004-06-22 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay! Yay! Yay!

Thank you for all of that VERY FINE information! Thank you for wanting to come with me on the train, if train it is! Thank you for reassuring me with facts and company. And thanks for the BIG TIME good news that I can count on you, [ profile] plasticsturgeon and -- be still my beating heart -- the infamous [ profile] amarama at the reading! I will follow up on the info and cease to worry about that final tight connection! You're a pal!

I'm staying with someone in Philadelphia, a lovely writer name Toni Brown, who may be out of town and miss the reading, but who will be trying to scare up a crowd, too, and know a couple of other folks there, who may come.

Awesome interview!

Date: 2004-06-22 06:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Dearest Susan: What's better: being asked such sumptuous questions, or having such beautifully woven answers? Loved reading your lovely answer about you and Carline, as everyone asks me that question. Now, I have the full answer to offer. I have known that the "imperatives of novel" must direct you, but have wanted to truly understand this. Thank you. Your brother is so proud of Carline as "awakening muse." Big smile, puffy chest, the whole bit! Lastly, I love how you show us the dichotomies you must adore to do this writing....meticulous and ruthless...fiction requiring radical honesty and really good lies!! Sweet! Love you and all you do! Barbara

Re: Awesome interview!

Date: 2004-06-22 07:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, Barbara! What a great big treat to hear from you, and with such fabulous comments! I can just see Don preening over the awakening muse!

This, dear lj readers, is a cameo from my wonderful and accomplished sister-in-law! And, now the truth can be told, I always have a tough time summing up my books in a single sentence (might be part of the reason I love the whole sprawling novel thing, because it gives you plenty of time to work out your ideas) -- but it's an essential skill if you want to try to communicate about a book to people who haven't read it.

My brother, Don, who's an artist and also has to work to articulate in words what he's doing in paint, suggested that one true and good thing to say about the book is that it's the story of an awakening muse. So I said it in this interview, and now my Dad wants to know what it means, but evidently (and not surprisingly), it's making my brother proud. Very fun.


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May 2009


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