Kirsten Reed checks in from an island off Maine

22 December 2012

A message from Kirsten: 'This was fun. I don't read much at all when I'm writing, so I skipped the reading part (of the questions), but here are the answers I got to, below.'

Kirsten Reed has lived in Seattle, New Zealand, Germany and various other places in the US, before moving to Australia. Her first novel, The Ice Age, is about a young girl who meets an older man, and their journey across America.

 

On becoming and being a writer

What would you be if you weren’t a writer? 

Well, growing up, my main aspirations involved living alone in some sort of woodsy cabin, surrounded by wild animals and mastering plant-based medicine, dispensing remedies and suchlike, or raising a family on a farm. So basically, a witch or a farmer's wife.

What was your favourite book as a child? 

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. The notion of being stranded on an island with only animals for company was pretty much my idea of Utopia.

What is the book you recommend most? 

A tie, between Frances Farmer's autobiography Will There Really be a Morning and Stewart O'Nan's The Speed Queen

Where do you write? 

Mostly at home, sometimes in a notebook in the car--a lot pops into my head when I'm driving.

Can you give one piece of advice to people wanting to become a writer? 

Indulge curiosity; your own, and others'. Get into the habit of talking to all kinds of people: basically the opposite of your parents' advice: talk to strangers.

Do you read on paper or ebook? 

Paper

One book that changed your life? 

To Kill a Mocking Bird

One book you have read more than once? 

Frosty: A Raccoon to Remember by Harriet E. Weaver, California Forest Ranger

 

2012: everything else

What was your favourite cultural event of the year?

'Men Who Cook': Every year, on the island I live on, in the winter, when we're all bored, several of the local men put on a dinner in the high school gym. They each prepare a dish, which is judged by attendees. I am comfortably certain there were more exciting things going on elsewhere, but this kept me perfectly amused.

Who is your hero of the year? 

My pit bull, Pippi Shortstocking, who was picked up as stray in the diciest part of the Bronx and narrowly escaped euthanasia in a NYC pound to come to Maine and remind me and the rest of my brood how to live life to the fullest. 

Who is your villain of the year?

There are quite a few, but I hate talking politics, and human nature never surprises me, so I think I'll just go with my go-to uber-villian: the Monsanto Corporation.

What is your most powerful memory of the year? 

Moving home to the US, to an island where I knew no one, driving across the causeway in the snow: watching it fall on the ocean and feeling overwhelmed by almost otherworldly natural beauty, after not seeing snow for almost 20 years.

What is your greatest disappointment of the year?

The benefit of coasting through life with a zen-like/jaded Gen-X lack of expectation is there is also a lack of disappointment. As part of my job at a small town newspaper office, I edit obituary photos. It's always sad seeing people go before their time, and knowing how this has affected the wider community. I hate putting young people's photos in the obits, and tend to linger over theirs longer. I suppose you could file that under disappointment.

What is your resolution for 2013? 

I think I'm actually going to finish my second novel.

What was the best movie? 

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Give us one Prediction for 2013? 

It'll probably be even crazier than 2012.

Your worst ever job? 

Working in a makeshift dog shelter for a lady who turned out to be little more than a hoarder. She only took in small breeds--my ankles took quite a nipping. It was heartbreaking, exhausting, and I always went home smelling of poo.

 

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