Friday, July 27, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Kathleen Popa Breezes By

Kathleen Popa blew through for a visit to answer a few questions.

Fiction character you most identify with and why?

Jo in Little Women. I’ll bet you get that a lot. Do you suppose Louisa May Alcott knew how many women would pray, “Please God, let me be Jo.”

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

I’d go to whoever was proprietor of The Eagle and Child Pub in Oxford in 1939 when the Inklings (a writers’ group consisting of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others) met there in a back room, and ask, “May I please, please just sit by the door and listen?”

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

I keep an 1.5 liter Gallo Wine jug on my desk when I write – filled with water – to replace mindless snacking with mindless hydrating. It works.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The past 100 years. My grandfather’s life spanned from one end of the 20th century to the other, and when he passed away, I helped to write his obituary. Out came the photos from his childhood, and there was one of his mother, all whale-boned, bustled and pin-tucked from neck to toe. My grandfather was a young man when he first saw an airplane or an automobile.

And there I sat in my blue jeans and bare feet, summing his life up on a desktop computer, wondering, how did we get from there to here in one lifetime?

The house I live in was built in 1898, and I love to walk through, touching banisters and door jambs, thinking of the all people who lived here, the Victorians and flappers and Rosie the Riveters. What did they wear? What did they have for breakfast? What did they worry about? And especially… what did they read?

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

Exactly what I’m writing now— only better. The barriers I care about are in my own mind, and my own heart.

As to genre’s or topics, what would be the point in writing something I have no passion for?

Of course, it helps that I never wanted to write about Amazon floozies with chain saws…

What makes you feel alive?

Getting up in the morning. It’s all life.

How does a story worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

I love stories that make me laugh, and I love the ones that make me cry, and I especially love the ones that do both. But if a story makes me feel that I have looked into the face of God and lived, then that story, and that author, has my heart forever.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

Only one of each? This is hard.

Easiest to choose: I’d take my husband. I can’t be away from him for more than a day or two without going into a decline.

Not so easy to choose: I keep changing my mind on this one, but I think I’d take some beautiful Andean music by
Oscar Reynolds, because it’s perfect for a happy day. I saw him playing live one Christmas in the middle of a mall in San Jose, like a one-man band with his guitar and a whispering set of panpipes rigged under his chin. He must have seen that I was enchanted by his music. Over his panpipes, without missing a note, he shot me a wink.

Almost impossible to choose: Perhaps my
Thomas Merton Reader, if it’s going to be a long trip. There’s enough in that book to keep me reading, and thinking, for a very long time.

As to food:
Penguin Mints. Sugar-free peppermints laced with caffeine, in a natty little black, white and yellow tin. The perfect writer food.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

In 2004 I went to Ireland with my family – a lifelong dream. I didn’t want to leave, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. I especially want to revisit the Seisiun they hold Thursday nights at the Tír na nÓg pub in Cranny, County Clare, where the local farmers and their wives stand up, one by one, to sing (somehow they can all sing), or recite a poem, or dance a jig. That’s my new definition of a perfect evening.

That trip put an appetite for travel in me I’d never had before. Now I find I want to visit other places, like Paris, and Tuscany, and the Holy Land. For some reason I also want to visit the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and I’d love to see Machu Pichu in Peru— though how I’d get there I have no idea, since I’m scared of heights. I recently watched—and loved—
The Painted Veil, and now I want to see whatever part of China I glimpsed in that film.

Oh— I’d also love to fly into outer space, and dive to the bottom of the sea.

Favorite season and why?

Autumn. I love that first gust of cool air on my skin, and the impulse to buy new pencils. I love the geese flying overhead, and the wind brushing through the trees at night, and the clouds rushing past the moon. I love the leaves. The sugar maple outside my window turns the most amazing golden color, and when the morning sun washes over, it splashes this intoxicating amber light into every corner of my bedroom.

Thanks, Kathleen. Delighted that you stopped by.

Happy weekend everyone!