Saturday, April 10, 2010
Interview: Wonderland award winning author Gina Ranalli
So I am doing this series of interviews on my blog. The reason for this is simple. As I watch my friends from very diverse and varied backgrounds interact on Facebook I had the idea that those people needed to know more about each other. I also know many writers, musicians and artists who have tons of amazing creative projects to promote. I want you to discover their creations as well.
Who do I start with. From the start I decided that I would launch with Gina. She is one of my favorite writers and more importantly one of my favorite human beings. This Seattle based writer is a Wonderland award winning author(Best collection for 13 thorns). She made a splash on the bizarro scene with slew of successful books for afterbirth books starting with Chemical Gardens.
One of the most impressive things about Gina's books is how different each book is. House of Falling Trees (my personal favorite) is straight gothic horror. Chemical Gardens is a hilarious punk rock spin on the Wizard of Oz, Suicide girls in the afterlife is a dark social comment, so is mother puncher but in a totally different way. Then you have books like Sky Tongues which is a surreal mindfuck.
Gina is the reason the small press is vital. An author like Gina no matter how brilliant didn't stand a chance in the traditional genre publishing. Now she has awards under her belt, a loyal following and is considered to be one of the top selling authors at the Horror Mall. (Horror-mall is one of the big DIY horror fiction websites, check it out.) Hear she is...
Where does the first act of the Gina Ranalli story begin?
I grew up in Massachusetts and was really excruciatingly shy. Just always buried in some fantasy world, either of my own or some book or movie. Any book or movie, really. And thank god I had those kinds of escapes because I never would have lived through my upbringing otherwise. My childhood was, sadly, much too typical, full of woe and loneliness. I wish I could say otherwise.
What was the first book you read the inspired you to become a writer?
It was probably something by Paul Zindel. He was my favorite writer when I was a kid. His stories were just so different from anything else I had read up to that point. Just full of misfits and whacky adventures. I completely related with those outsider characters. They sort of became my friends.
Chemical Gardens has been called a punk take on the wizard of Oz. You have had some years and some distance from that book how do you feel about it today?
I never re-read my own stuff, but I do still like the story, which kind of relates back to the previous question. A bunch of weirdos in an extremely bizarro situation. Plus, I think it might be my funniest book. At least I think it's funny, but I don't know how many people would agree with that assesment.
Suicide girls in the Afterlife was really where you first made social commentary but was also much darker than your first novel. What inspired this book?
It began with the characters rather than the commentary. I never start out with the intention of talking about a particular social observation in mind. The books eventually take on a life of their own and at some point I have kind of an AH HA! moment where I say, "So, THIS is what I'm writing about." I don't know if I could actually write a book with the intention of writing a social commentary. I need people and humor first and foremost.
A man couldn't get away with writing a novella like mother puncher, did you have the title or the story first?
I think I had the title first. And I've caught some flack for the book myself, despite not being a man. It made a few feminists mad, which is interesting to me, as I myself identify as feminist and think the book is actually very pro-feminist. I mean, that's kind of the whole point. It's satire.
House of fallen trees is a more straight forward horror novel, written before mother puncher do you approach a horror novel different from a bizarro novel?
Oh, yeah. For me, bizarro is more fun to write, but less challenging. The genres are very yin-yang for me. I can write bizarro really fast, which works best for me, but some people like my horror a lot more, but the horror takes a long time to do. They are both great in their own ways.
I love Thai. Probably anything with curry. Put some curry on an old tire and I'm sure I'd eat it.
One book, one DVD and one toy to survive the apocalypse with?
This is a hard one. For the book, I'd probably pick either A Confederacy of Dunces or The Alchemist. For the DVD-I'm really into Watchmen right now, but maybe the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Would that count? The reason being it's so long. But, I'd really probably pick Bringing Up Baby, despite having seen it about 20 times already. And a toy. Hmm. Computers are toys, right?
What should a librarian know about your books?
They're in English and should be filed next to Ayn Rand. Besides that, I don't know. They could save your life?
Which books are you most proud of and why?
Well, I'm really proud of 13 Thorns because it was a bitch and a half to write, but we somehow pulled it off and I think it came out pretty good. House of Fallen Trees for the same reason. I also have another book coming out called Praise the Dead and that one was tough too. So, I guess I'm proud of the hard labors.
Which famous persons would like to see in a thunderdome?
I'd love to see Ann Coulter and Fred Phelps duke it out. It would be a win/win for all involved. (except the loser, of course.)
How did you get into veganism?
I came to veganism later than most do. Growing up, I didn't even know any vegetarians and I just didn't question the consumtion of animal products and secretions. Just never occurred to me. But, as an adult, I went to a city fair or something and they had a petting zoo. Those animals-most of which I'd never seen close up, always having lived in a city-looked so pathetic and unhappy. I remember looking right into their eyes and they looked back. I saw souls in there and had to stop eating meat. After that, giving up dairy was easy and I hadn't ever bought fur and hadn't bought new leather in something like two decades, so it was easy once I finally realized that I needed to be vegan. Now, knowing what I know about the cruelty and sadism involved with animal slavery, I just couldn't live with myself if I was anything but vegan.