The Sunshine Blogger Challenge is a "get to know the author" challenge that asks 11 questions of the blog author. Then the answering author tags other authors with 11 of his/her own questions. For this challenge, I'm answering the 11 questions posed by speculative fiction author Bethany Jennings of The Simmering Mind.
I'm not tagging anyone, but if you want to play, answer my 11 questions at the bottom of this post and comment with a link to your post. (Or just answer in the comments. That works too.) I'd love to read your responses!
1. If you could have any magical, supernatural ability, what would you choose?
Maybe it's just because I'm reading through The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card right now, about a young gatemage who can "gate" his way to anywhere with a mental reflex, and because I'm also missing my best friend who is 1000 miles away, but I would love to have the supernatural ability to teleport anywhere.
Think of the traveling I could do! I could visit amazing places in the world, absorb their ambience, and breathe life into the settings in my stories. I could see people and attend events, all without enduring the fatigue of actual travel. And then I could teleport back to my house, to sleep in my own bed when my adventures were over.
2. What is one of your happiest childhood memories?
My grandmother owned a camp on a quiet lake in New England and my favorite memories are of the times when, early in the morning, I snuck barefoot through the pine-needles onto the rough wooden dock and listened to the waves slap gently against the boathouse foundation.
As the mist curled off the gray-glass lake, ghostly loons gave their mournful calls. When the sun rose a little higher, it reflected dazzling streaks of light off the water onto the boathouse wall. I sat and breathed the pine-and-huckleberry-scented air and the quiet and the stillness.
No matter how busy and insane life became during the day, I always had that time to rest in a solitude that did not feel lonely at all.
3. What is your favorite writing spot/workspace like? Why do you like to work there best?
I keep reading about authors who have this one place that they work in best, like a coffee shop or their vintage desk. I have no favorite writing spot.
Variety. That's the keyword.
I just can't stand staying in one place, in one position, for very long. I get cramped up and start feeling jittery and then I have to take a break, which defeats the purpose of sitting down to write.
Behold the athletic poses of a caffeine-fueled ADHD writer.
4. What ministry or calling is closest to your heart? What’s something you dream of doing for that cause someday?
Writing is my calling. At times, I have tried to convince myself out of it. Of what value is more fantasy and sci-fi? What good is entertaining people when so many people are suffering? Why couldn't I just enjoy being some Mother Theresa-like figure and spend my life being compassionate instead of feeling this drive to write epic adventures?
Eventually, I realized that science fiction and fantasy are more compatible with compassion and kindness and truth than I had ever thought. For instance, when I read Lord of the Rings, I was spurred by Frodo's example to be the sort of person who would sacrifice my own desires to ensure the good of others.
Maybe, like Tolkien, my job was as a motivator: to help others see the grandness of life and truth that I can see, and to do something with that vision.
That wouldn't be such a bad calling after all.
5. Chocolatey desserts or fruity desserts?
This is an evil question and should not be asked of anyone. I won't choose between the two. I refuse.
6. What was your favorite book as a small child?
Depends what "small child" counts as. When I was maybe seven or eight, my grandmother sent us a copy of The Children's Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett and illustrated by Michael Hague, an anthology of poems, short stories, and fables. The illustrations in there are stunning--absolutely beautiful--and I particularly remember one story of a girl who rode a fish in the ocean and caught a star. Or the stranger who turned a girl's dipper of water into the Big Dipper in the sky. Just looking at the pictures and reading the story gave me shivers. Still does, actually.
The book and illustrations just captured that childlike sense of numinous awe and wonder, the realization that real life and imagination are not so far apart from one another.
I'm also quite partial to The Book of Think by Marilyn Burns, which my grandfather gave us. When you're a writer, you have to think outside the box, and this book helped me to do that. I spent years pouring over the puzzles and problems and concepts in this book. It still feels like an old friend.
7. What’s something you used to be afraid of but aren’t scared of (or not as scared!) anymore?
The dark. When I was a kid, I watched the TV show Wishbone, and one of the episodes told the story of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. The scene with the Morlocks scared the bejabbers out of me and every time I had to go to the bathroom at night, it would become this frantic scramble to get to the safety of the bathroom before the Morlocks reached out from under my bed or the closet and dragged me into their cobwebby underground lairs.
Now I love the dark. Because of my chronic illness, I get overstimulated easily. The dark is soft and quiet and still, and I feel the tension melt.
The only thing better than a soft bed in the darkness is running barefoot in the dark on a warm, rainy summer's night. I'm serious. Imagine: The rain tingles coolly against your warm skin, calling every inch of your body alive with sensation. Pale, distant lights touch the raindrops as they fall and the world around you turns to glitter and glass. Your bare feet splash through the puddles with the nostalgia of childhood, and all around you, for miles and miles, all you can hear is the rippling whisper of rain on grass and leaves. You breathe the fragrance of warm, wet earth and growing things, as though you could smell a twist of green and silver.
The darkness is beautiful.
8. What’s your favorite kind of outfit to wear?
Geeky writer swag. My NaNoWriMo winner T-shirt. Or my "Writing Lady" T-shirt that proclaims on the back all the descriptions of a writer: "Maker of worlds. Dreamer. Bibliophile..." Anything that advertises how much I love my calling.
I have a dream of one day cosplaying Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series. It would be the perfect excuse to wear a writing-themed dress (pencils and papers and scribbles) with book earrings and a quill necklace. You know. Good writers' garb.
9. What Bible verse has God used most powerfully in your life recently? How?
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ." - Philippians 4:6-7
I think it's normal to have a lot of questions in life, but recent months have seemed particularly filled with big and daunting questions. Questions that can make and break relationships, questions that can influence my future and my health immensely, questions that no one can answer for me but God.
I need answers, and it's easy to feel frantic and want God to give answers all at once. Taking a step back, focusing on my relationship with Him and not on my circumstances, seeking His peace rather than His answers... It's a process of trust, and one that you learn over time and then have to keep learning over and over, but it's well worth it.
10. How do you feel about rollercoasters? Love ’em, hate ’em?
I've never actually been on one. But my gut reaction is: "Is it crazy? Cool! Sign me up!"
11. Do you like sad endings or movies/books that make you cry? Why or why not?
When I watched To End All Wars, I bawled. I can't spoil it for you if you intend to watch it, but there is a moment in that movie when one of the characters makes a decision so stunningly sacrificial and symbolic that it just tears your guts out. It's heartbreakingly beautiful.
Usually when I'm reading a book and hit a touching or sad moment, I tear up a bit, but I don't seriously cry. The only book, to date, that has made me legit cry in every single chapter (I'm not even joking) is Adopted For Life by Russell Moore. The vision of incredible love through adoption is mind-blowing. Even if you don't see adoption as part of your life, get the book. If you don't choke up at least once, I'll be surprised.
Short answer: Yes. Yes, I love movies and books that make me cry.
I'm not sure that sad endings are my favorite, but I am particularly attracted to bittersweet endings. I think those types are the most realistic and true to life. If you've just battled great forces of darkness, you can't go back to who you were before, but maybe, just maybe, your sacrifice has opened a gate of light for others to pass through.
Okay, my turn!
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