Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. Two

Part One may be found here.

Both Austenland and A & H tackle romantic fantasies and the nature of romantic comedies, their “grotesque mimicry of actual love (A & H 304).”  And when Becky tries to decide whether or not she could actually love Felix romantically, she writes a screenplay with a movie ending.  But the novel’s conclusion isn’t a “Hollywood ending.”  Did you feel that writing it the way you did was risky?

Oh sure. I knew some readers would be angry, and I was sorry for that, because I knew absolutely that the ending was the right one for this story. I think it goes back to genre–those who expected a certain ending might not be willing to go with me where I wanted to take the story. And this story just might not be a good fit for their sensibilities. That’s okay. I knew (was told) that the book would sell better if I made the Hollywood ending work, but for me that would have made the story pointless and been sheer betrayal of the characters. I try to do right by the characters. Continue reading “Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. Two”

Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. One

Shannon Hale is the author of several young adult novels–including Enna Burning (reviewed here), the Newbery Award winner The Princess Academy, and, most recently, Forest Born.  She has also published two adult novels, Austenland and The Actor and the Housewife. The latter provoked strong responses among Shannon’s readers, and no wonder.  It’s a bold work likely to twang nerves, even for those who like it.  I reviewed it for AMV here. As part of my impulse to explore and enjoy The Actor and the Housewife until sated, I invited Shannon to an AMV interview.  She graciously–and prodigiously–answered several questions in this two-part interview.

What artistic works have inspired you?

That’s a big question. I was raised on fairy tales, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Joan Aiken, etc. High school and college was mostly the “classics,” then grad school was literary fiction (living authors do exist!). After selling The Goose Girl, I discovered YA lit, and that makes up 50% of my reading material now. And then there’s music, movies, plays, visual art…hard for me to dissect it, but it all gets into my brain. Continue reading “Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. One”

Announcing WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest

The Vernal Equinox arrives Saturday, March 20.  To celebrate spring’s arrival last year, Wilderness Interface Zone, A Motley Vision’s companion blog, ran a Spring Poetry Run-off that turned out to be lots of fun.  So beginning March 19, we’re running WIZ’s Second Annual Spring Poetry Run-off, this time as a poetry contest!

In keeping with WIZ’s mission to help develop, inspire, and promote literary nature and science writing in the Mormon writing community, we encourage poets to help call an end to winter and midwife the birth of a milder season, a season of gardens, returning flocks, and light that takes the tarnish off the blood.

Contest rules

* Submit poems to between March 7 and March 31.
* All poems submitted must be original, published or unpublished work.  If the work has been previously published, please provide publication information and be sure you can grant us rights to re-publish the work.
* Please submit poems 50 lines long or less.
* All poems submitted must be spring-themed or at least mention spring.
* Poets may submit up to 3 poems.

For more information, click here.

February is love of nature, nature of love month on WIZ

February is a big month on AMV’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone.  First, in honor of Valentine’s Day, all month long we’ll be soliciting poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s) or other media that address the subject of love while including references to nature.  Also, we’re interested in works about nature that include references to love.  That’s a wide gamut.  Submissions may include original work or favorite works by others that have entered public domain.  So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone important–even and perhaps especially your dog–please consider sending it to WIZ.  For information on how to submit work to WIZ, click here.

Also, February 24th is WIZ’s birthday.  We’ll be one year old.  Yay!  If you have ideas about how to celebrate this important milestone, please e-mail your suggestions or swing by and drop them into the comments.

Spring is definitely on the way.  February is a good month to warm things up.  If you have “Shall I compare thee to a summer day?” work you’d like to share, please consider submitting it to WIZ.

Crossing Lines: A Metareview of The Actor and the Housewife

Warning: Spoilers ahead! Also, a long post.

I’ve been reading Shannon Hale’s YA novels to my daughter, now 13, for four years.  The Books of Bayern are wonderfully emotionally textured, edgy enough to challenge my daughter, and filled with lots of girl power to encourage her to consider her options.  Hale’s attention to language attracts my interest sharply.  I’ve come to trust her writing as a source of fine language and narrative prowess for my daughter’s developing mind.  We snatch up her YA novels whenever they come out.

But I wasn’t interested in Hale’s adult novel, The Actor and the Housewife, until this discussion on AMV.  Complaints that the novel’s readers registered there piqued my curiosity.  Just before William’s not-necessarily-a-review, Kevin Barney put up this post reviewing the church’s article on emotional infidelity that drew a lot of comments.  In January, a BCC-er linked to this article in Slate on opposite sex friendship.  The stars seemed to align.  I decided to drop other projects and pick up The Actor and the Housewife, see what was what.  To make the narrative journey more interesting, I read it aloud to my husband Mark, who during our married life has done such gracious deeds as taking the kids outside so I could talk with male friends or helping me understand the man-side of baffling conversations.  I have included in this essay bits of our discussion of the novel as we read it. Continue reading “Crossing Lines: A Metareview of The Actor and the Housewife”

Winter haiku chain running on WIZ

In celebration not only of the coolest  holiday season but also of the arrival of the winter solstice on Monday, December 21st, A Motley Vision’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone has launched a haiku chain, an open thread whereon haiku-ers might skip and dance together in 17-syllable jigs.

My American Heritage Dictionary tells me that “haiku” comes from Japanese hai, “amusement” (from a middle Chinese word) and ku, “sentence” (also from middle Chinese).   For such small parcels of language, they pack tightly, which makes them them linguistic jacks-in-the-boxes, bursting out big to surprise and delight.

Also, haiku can be restorative, in the way that concentration on small things, like a spider’s web or light on snow, can cool the mind with beauty or open it up in connexion.

But haiku is especially well suited for social mingling.  The subjects at WIZ include wintertide, the happy lengthening of the day that follows the solstice, Christmas, the beauty of the moment, the turn of the weather–anything related to winterality.  So if ye have a mind to, come over and toss in your 17-syllables’ worth.

Happy Solar New Year! Hurrah for the lengthening of the light!

Poems of Biblical Proportions Week at Wilderness Interface Zone

The intertwining of spirituality with images, metaphors, analogies, parables and other language containing  strong veins of agrarian- and wilderness-oriented content is part of what gives scripture its power.   Along with a large proportion of the rest of this Bible-reading country, as Mormons increasingly move inside and explore via the electronic frontier, scripture becomes one of the few places where folks might encounter nature with some constancy.

Of course, one problem that arises from the general nature-human disconnect is that of faltering literacy.  Lacking their own spirituality-nature approach, some readers of scripture find the outdoorsy contexts and nature-hued saturation levels of many scriptural stories and passages mysterious and obscure, or maybe quaint and thick, rather like how the King James version of the Bible loses some students of scripture with its Shakespearean-era rhetorical density.

Wilderness Interface Zone is nothing if not interested in promoting literacy, especially nature-literacy.  So to honor and enjoy scripture’s endearing and enduring traditional affinities with nature and to  encourage folks to throw themselves into experience with nature–even just parks, with trees, grass, ducks, and space to fly kites–to improve their scriptural literacy, we’re running Poems of Biblical Proportions Week.  WIZ is soliciting poetry (or even poetic creative nonfiction) based in both scripture and nature.  Mp3s of music combining  nature and scriptural themes are also of interest.  Your work need not be based in the Bible only.  It may reference any scriptural source, such as the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, etc.

To submit a poem, creative non-fiction essay, mp3, or other poetry-like venture containing both scriptural and natural wavelengths, see our guidelines here.

Vox Humana Week on WIZ

I’m looking for a few good voices.

For the rest of August, A Motley Vision’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone is hosting “Vox Humana Week” as part of its “People Month.”  For an explanation of what “People Month” is, you can go here:

If you have a podcast or mp3 you’ve made where you’re reading your own work–poetry, blog posts, or essay or fiction excerpts–and if you feel inclined to share, please email me at Your reading doesn’t have to be “nature-oriented”–it is “People Month,” afterall–but if it is, that would be cool.  Also, I’ll be putting up podcasts of my own readings.  I have barely adequate recording equipment, but everybody will get the idea.

If you do come by WIZ, you might like to read some of the wonderful guest posts published over the last two weeks, including a poem by Tyler Chadwick and an essay about flying from a 12-yr-old reader. 

I hope some of you will feel moved upon to contribute to “Vox Humana Week.”  It could be fun. 

Update: Stan Bronson’s Down from the Mountain at Proud Earth Music

Two years ago I reviewed Stan Bronson’s album Down from the Mountain for AMV.   My family has really enjoyed Bronson’s appealing singing voice and musical take on San Juan County history.   My impression of the album was that anyone interested in Mormon-themed folk music might find Down from the Mountain a fun listen.

The website I linked to went down shortly after the review.  I contacted Bronson directly and received an e-mail response asking me to direct interested parties to an e-mail address, but readers commented that the address bounced their queries. 

Well, I have good news.  Ken Dixon, vice president of Proud Earth Music, e-mailed me to call my attention to Proud Earth’s new website, featuring Bronson’s music among others’.  Especially fun: If you click into the catalogue you can listen to short clips of tracks from the album.  Bronson’s music is distinct, so even in those brief clips you’ll get a fair idea of what the album is like.   Both CDs and individual tracks are downloadable.

Introduction to the Mysteries

(or “¦ How to Read a Poem)
by P. G. Karamesines

First, kiddo, disperse that obvious shadow:
To read is not to know.  To read
Is to listen from your quiet place
To the teasing laughter of some new voice.
Listening requires aptitude for not knowing. Continue reading “Introduction to the Mysteries”