Not so long ago, I wrote a glowing review of a book called The Grim Trixter by Brandy Schwan. This beautiful and darkly evocative publication has been recommended for a Stoker and if it receives enough recommendations, it will make the preliminary ballot and go on to the voting. When Jason Sizemore, editor of Apex Digest, asked if I’d be interested in interviewing Brandy, I jumped at the chance because I really feel this book is worthy of many, many recommendations.
It turned into a good thing for me as well because I enjoyed getting to know this interesting woman. So, without further ado, welcome to the very first Unprofessional Snarky Author Interview. <g>
1. I read that you like to write in this one particular tree… I’m intrigued. Do you think it might be houseing a dryad who acts as a muse?
I suppose that, that could be a very good assumption… Lost hours and time, drown in inspiration, by day and night. It would be very like the Dryad to inspire that sort of enchantment *Winks* There is also the ‘Crazy Woman’ factor… If you come about a tree with a woman in it, lost in thought, barefoot, wild curls and a certain look her eye… You may be inclined to not bother her and allow her to go about her dreamy ways. I adore finding writing heights and coves, they inspire new views… A bit closer to having my head directly in the clouds or simply lost in strange shadows. I have never been one to truly enjoy sitting at a desk, neat and tidy, sterile, enclosed. I need to be out and about discovering to remember~
2. How old were you when you wrote your first poem? What was it about?
The first poem that I remember writing was ‘untitled’ — Titles always come last for me and at times titles do not come about at all and end up in the ‘Jane Doe’ box… I was six years old and I wrote about ‘The Forest’ and my worry for the destruction. My Grandparents’ house (out in the middle of the woods) was/is my sanctuary… I was constantly worried over going there one day and finding some plastic progression in the stead of my beautiful hideaway. To this day, everything about that world still stands as great and amazing as it always has. I am entirely grateful. I feel at times that if it is to ever be destroyed, so will my heart, my roots. I cannot imagine life without my Grandparents and our Avalon Land. My soul is in that little house and those grand woods. Regardless what may or may not happen… The voices of my family will never abandon that place. So much has happened there, such a great deal has been healed there, born and passed over, haunted, enchanted, inspired, nurtured. It is a forever bloom of magic and adore. Perhaps, it is the only poem that truly matters when all is said and done. The thoughtful worry, great heart and concern of a six year old child, inspired not by material toys. But an old Oak above her head and soft moss beneath her bare feet~
3. Your bio says you live in a house set in the middle of nowhere and everywhere. A hidden haven with trees at the end of a long road — that it’s filled with antiques. We share a love of setting — I bought my home because it was hyped as a hidden haven in the woods. I also love antiques. Do you have a particular favorite and does it have a story?
It is a bit funny, because I have never truly chosen my homes although the homes where I have ended up are perfectly suited to me. When I came here, I had never been here before. I left in the dark morning hours and this is where I ended up. Here, where I had never been before. I did not so much as know where I was going to live exactly. When I set foot in this old house, like others I have lived in, it felt like an old friend. An Owl in the tree hooting away at night, crickets chirping, ghosts galore, lilac bushes surround the house and great old trees, sheds, high grasses, peaceful lulling all around. Each time I have left a home, my heart breaks. I may as well be leaving a dear friend behind… Still, I end up in a most natural and seemingly familiar surrounding each time.
Antiques– Most all of the antiques in my home are family heirloom. It would be difficult to pin one down as a favorite, as each one has a particular memory for me, adored. I do however cherish dearly, my Great Grandmother’s pearls and Cameos… I have never been one for diamonds, gold and what not… A bit flashy for me… Although I do like the old costume jewelry and trinkets… I wear a ring of red coral… Absolutely anything from the sea thrills me. I was fortunate to have been gifted Gran’s pearls. I love and miss her so very much. She was an incredible woman, she ‘is’ an incredible spirit. Great Grandma passed away only a few years ago on Christmas Eve, just as she said that she would. She loved Christmas… Still does, I imagine;)
4. Will you tell us about the ghosts?
Oh, yes… Ethel and Walter. They built this home. No one else lived here after them until I came here. They still live here and I imagine they always will. The two are quite active, I realized on my very first night here. Ethel sings in my ear, clear as any living woman and at times it catches me off guard and gives me the creeps. But for the most part I have grown quite used to it. She likes to redecorate and makes it completely, loudly obvious when she is unhappy — she made me believe that every dish in the kitchen had crashed to the floor my first night here — I ran to the kitchen and everything was neat and in its place. However she is entirely nurturing… Pulling up blankets at night, turning up the heat… Things along that line. Walter is a door guy… He likes to open them, close them. He likes his tobacco and he can be a bit invasive at times. But not in a harmful way. He loves to hang around when baking is going on… Watch your plate~ There is also an infant here and that is a happening of its own, along with a shadow figure outside. There are others. But these are the most obvious and strongest communicators.
5. No washing machine, a wood stove for heating and cooking… do you think that maybe your wonderfully simple style of living is what gives you the room to write with such lovely extravagance?
One of the gifts that I have always been so very grateful for is that I can write anywhere. I do not ‘prefer’ to write of course in an environment that is not perfect for creation. But I can adjust in only moments if need be… When I am inspired, it is going to happen no matter my surroundings; fortunately, I am very often and with a charmed, consistent flow, inspired. This particular surrounding does compliment my moods beautifully and is very much what I am used to in the way that I was raised. When one has acquired from early childhood a particular art form as a main tool for communication, it becomes a natural, daily occurrence, necessity to release emotions and points of view. Poetry being a voice and not so much the career choice created. “Lovely extravagance” — Thank you so very much for your beautiful compliment, Rinda~
6. Other than the melody of your own words, do you listen to music as you write? What kind?
I generally tend to not listen to music while I write. I find it a distraction for the most part. If I do listen to any sort of music, it is Bach or the like. Distraction is not the end all for me. But if I can avoid it, I will. Once in a great while a song will stir a memory for me and I have the odd quirk of replaying it many times until it delivers me directly to the heart of the emotion. I will then turn it off and begin writing~
7. What drew you to poetry as a medium? The words? Rhythm and sound?
This is not an easy question. I do not remember a time, poetry was not a part of my life. It is as much ‘me’ as my skin is ‘me’ — I believe the heart of it for my soul is a burial ground of sorts. I can weave and hide whatever I like within the Rhythm, Sound, Cadence, those words… I can set my entire life right before the eyes of the world, word for word and yet… It still belongs to ‘us’ (Poetry and I). Poetry is my confidant and all of my secrets are kept safe by “The Entity’… Poetry herself~
That is why, when readers say to me “I love it. But I do not understand everything.” The reason for this is, I do not want for you to understand everything… I much rather you ‘feel’ it. What I do in this way, I have done with precise intention. You should be delivered to a place of ‘you’ –Your worlds I have inspired within you to reflect and remember or move towards and grasp… What is buried within the pretty weaving, was buried very deep and quite methodically~
8. Where can readers and adoring fans find you on the Net?
Here on My Space page. http://www.myspace.com/grimtrixter
And of course through my publisher’s link (Jason Sizemore)
9. Will you be so generous as to pick a poem I can post here? A tease, so to speak?
Absolutely… This is a favorite of mine and I believe quite fitting for us all~
To the artist unseen~
You look for the shiny marble floor below, it eludes you;
Head in the clouds, celestial views…
Is this what they tell you?
Do they plead with you? Come back down to heavy Earth,
Abandon your Ivory libraries, look away from the Sirens;
Embrace gilded ideals, mortal minds,
Look upward to your dreams from marshy shores,
Do not fly to high that is for the birds-
I laugh amused because I know you better,
Even from that shore you would find your mermaids;
Lurlei haunting the Rhine,
King Triton calls out to an unsheathed imagination;
You paint the sea to capture foamy dreams-
Your preternatural worship enslaves you lonely within nostalgia’s echoing towers;
Is it a blooming melancholy?
Mystic blues of petaled dusk, she falls her bewitching curtain,
Shadow and trickery… It is your hour to nod away the repressive doubters;
Escape within your genius creations,
Search out true love dancing beneath that olive tree;
It is starry eyed moon above, “vex” the sober logic-
Where will you go to, night owl?
Perched upon your midnight cloud a purple hue;
Blue planet’s stolid faces,
Innumerable counts, souls in famine look up to you for salvation’s cream and sugar, wheat and water,
resurrected fruitful orchards…
Gaze across dreary black gray meadows;
Ring out the clouds, your head encircled…
Colored hope rain down to quench famished lands, hearts-
Do not be vacant to vagabond spirits, heal cataract eyes…
Allow them your wise beauty;
It is you who would hide and do hide,
As you have cleverly hidden a gift behind walls of sculpted madness…
“You” Villainous Sculptor your own clay expression~
Stay in those clouds if you like,
Drink honey mead as Athena tastes delicate Ambrosia;
Your talents prepare her feast and bounty…
“Still, be merciful”
Do not abandon the rest of us… dreamless~
Published Work 2006 Brandy Schwan
10. What is your absolute favorite way to spark the imagination? Any particular writing ritual?
If I make a plan to sit down and write, nothing will come about. Words, thoughts are constantly swimming around. The same as when you have a song stuck in your head, I suppose. When the moment is right the particular power line will rise to the top and no matter what I may be doing, I grab a pen and honor the demand of the words. My greatest stress is in the past when I have let the line escape and it goes stale. I am compulsive and quite obsessive about these great moments. I have missed them before, although not often and it will drive me mad. These amazing moments of inspiration cannot be replace by another. I let the inspiration happen natually~