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Q: "What do you most enjoy about teaching literature?

Everything :) I love teaching. It's a kick in a way that nothing else ever is.   A good book signing or panel has a few such moments, but teaching gave me that rush regularly. That doesn't mean every day was a traipsing thru fields of flowers thing: there were bad classes.  There were students I failed to reach.  There were plagiarism cases that caused me ridiculous amounts of angsting. There was one athlete I wanted to thwack on the head, & there was one addict I wanted to adopt & fix. Teaching is not always fun.  Parts of it are frustrating. 

Faculty meetings & dealing with faculty politics are my suggestions for adding to the circles of hell. (Really? Some of these folks have lived in their ivory towers too long.  They aren't there to teach, but as a place to hang their hats while the apply for research grants or to subsidize their writing income.  It's a systemic problem that I don't know how we should fix, but I DO know that it needs fixing.)

Still . . . put me in a classroom & tell me to talk lit . . . *sighs* there's nothing like it.

Q: "Do you read literature or nonfiction exclusively when you write or do you read both?"

I'm always writing so I don't limit my reading bc of it . . . except that I don't read books w potentially similar sounding premises to what I'm writing. 

In faery* books, Holly Black is tops (IMNSHO), but she hasn't had a new faery book while I've been writing since Ironside (ergo I haven't had to suffer delays in reading her.). I adore her YA faery books, & I have pondered begging her to turn one of her short stories into a book (from her POISON EATERS collection).  It's not faery, but it's freaking gorgeous.  Back to faery though . . .  I've had a few LOVE it moments in faery fiction since I started writing.  In particular Janni Lee Simner's Bones of Faerie & RJ Anderson's Faery Rebels (AKA Knife).  They were read when I wasn't writing, but they're also pretty far outside what I write in terms of plot.  They are VERY fab & lore-based. 

Obviously, I veer towards folklore based fiction (species is immaterial), but I read across the board.  Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box was one of the best books I've read in years. I crush on Eloisa James' Duchess series (historical romance=yay!). 

As to fic and non-fic, I'm mostly a fiction reader.  I dip into very specific nonfiction (folklore, criticism, or research for a text I'm pondering). I read a lot of romance.  I tend to default to historical romance, but I enjoy contemporary, time travel, & paranormal too.  I'm not a fan of SciFi Romance, not bc there's anything wrong with it. Aliens simply don't appeal to me.  I like mainstream fiction (T Chevalier is an auto-buy for me).  I get on poetry kicks, but I don't do novels in verse or much contemporary poetry.  In poetry, I default to mostly dead folk. And, of course, I get on classics kicks.  Nothing tops Faulkner. I'm not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I enjoy her. I think Flaubert's Madame Bovary, most of Hardy's novels, & some Bronte . . . really I'm an 1800s-mid-1900s novel fan.  My two eras in grad school were the British Victorians & Faulkner, so a lot of my reading tastes derive from the same tastes that lead to my picking them.

I still read some criticism on Faulkner, the Victorians, the PRB, & narrative structure. I subscribe to some academic journals specifically to do so. That tends to sate a lot of my nonfic needs.  Well, that & kidlit theory/paranormal theory . . . and lately, mortuary science.

I have a problem with books. Fortunately, it's a healthy thing to be addicted to. 

Q: "When doing research on Faerie lore and stuff, how would you recommend going about it? Is the Internet a decent source of information, or are books and stuff more reliant? Are there any books/sites that you'd recommend?"

First, *sends adoring thoughts for asking a research question*

Sacred-texts.com has a lot of old texts scanned in. If you're going Celtic faery, go here. Start reading.  The Secret Commonwealth (Kirk) is essential. If you're going Welsh, read the Mabinogion.  Evans-Wentz Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries is a great text.  Thomas Crofton Croker, T Keightly

If you're looking for hard copy (newer but still awesome), Eddie Lenihan is a master (http://www.eddielenihan.com/). Meeting the Other Crowd is one of my favourite books. 

Honestly, there's a lot of great stuff there. I like hard copy (and yes, I am anti-ebook/ebook readers as a personal choice).  Free text is a goodthing when budget is a concern though.  Read the old texts.

Do NOT read other novels with faeries until after you do your research. (Yes, I realize that I am suggesting that you don't read my books, too.) It's the sourcetexts that matter most.  Read those. Then you can read contemp fiction--but be aware that you may get grumbly when you do so bc few things we write in fiction are as captivating as the research is. 

----
* That part has been easy so far bc I'm a picky picky bitch when it comes to faery books.  My family roots are in Ireland, Scotland, & a tendril in Germany.  So these are my heritage. I'm particular.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
blackholly
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Awww, thanks for the kind words. Which is the story you want me to expand?

melissa_writing
Nov. 10th, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)
The "coldest girl in cold town" one . . . I loved the setting so much that I wanted to SEE it. I walked away from it wanting more, wanting that world, wanting to see the photographs of the world. Possibly B&W photos with high grain . . . When I think of your writing, I think in photos. That, to me, is always a great reading experience. I can see images from your novels in my head, and that particular story did that for me too. So, I want more.

(And in case I didn't confess earlier, the Saturday you gave us the copy of your antho at BEA was the day I read it. After I finally got to the hotel that night & shoulda been sleeping, I curled up on the sofa & started reading. Most of the tower of books were shipped back home, but yours was in my carry-on. Daughter & I BOTH finished it before we got home from BEA on Sunday.)
blackholly
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Well, I admit my collection is REALLY short, so at least it went fast. I am so glad you liked that story.

Now if there was a story of YOURS that I'd like you to expand, I think it would be the selchie story from Love is Hell. You have a selchie poem in one of the Year's Best anthologies too, right? Or it's mentioned? So there's obviously some stuff you want to do with the lore.

Plus I felt like there were many more things about the world that I wanted to know. And I wanted to see if those two crazy kids could make it work. :D
melissa_writing
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
Silly Holly! We read it that fast bc it's GOOD not bc it's short :) You build worlds like nobody's business. Add your character skills & setting, & . . . yanno, if I hadn't already told you I loved your writing so often, I think I'd be embarrassed right now.

Ahem. Point being that I thing I'd watch a film if you wrote. I know I've bought anthos for just your text. (Did you send something in for Teeth?)

Let's hope you never catch me when I'm tipsy: I'll admit all of my fav visuals from your texts . . .

*whispers* Yeah, I have serious selchie love. (I actually went to Orkney to research selchies.) I've written two picturebooks, 1 short story, 1 start of a novel, & abt 6 poems on selchies. Only the short story & poem have been sent out into the wild though. When I was in Orkney, I spent two days following seals. It's easy to see, in such moments, how the lore evolved. Very freaking amazing moments.
angel_sarabia
Nov. 10th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
hi malissa. i have a very important question to ask you. i love you write storys and i want people to know the things i write. i want to make my mark on the world somehow so y not writing. i have a lot of stories that my friends and teachers really like. how do i get someone important to read my story and maybe publish it. i don't think people will take me serously becausa i'm just a kid but i am very serouse about becoming a writer. do you know anybody that will maybe give my ideas a chance? P.S. you are a great writer and you inspried me to write. thank so much!!
melissa_writing
Nov. 10th, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
It's not a matter of finding a break or getting "someone important" to read. Nor is age a factor. It's pretty straight forward: you write. If it's stories, you submit the stories to magazines. You write more. If it's a novel, you query agents. You keep writing. You keep querying. In both cases, you repeat until it works. Along the way, all the writing hones your skills.

That what most of us do. Sometimes it happens quickly, but often it takes years. It's like any career though. You keep researching markets; you keep improving your skill; and you keep dedicating the time and energy to it to build a career.

It's a worthwhile pursuit, & I wish you the best at it.
kt_coope
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:55 am (UTC)
If you ever have the chance to see Eddie Lenihan perform, do it. He's a great storyteller, I saw him quite a few years ago and he was wonderful. So much energy and some wonderful tales. (And looks the part too, almost a cartoon character, seemingly composed mostly of beard, hair and big glasses).
niamh_sage
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
www.biblio.com is a great source for some of the harder to find faery-related texts (they are linked to a lot of second hand and specialist bookshops).

The Sacred Texts site is wonderful. :D
ex_kaz_maho
Nov. 10th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
I love these answers. I like hearing about the folklore and research, and other faery books. I just got my editorial letter and was overcome with happiness that my editor talked about how well I incorporate lore into my manuscript. *smiles continually* However, he did say I need to explain more for some readers...

And I'm glad you enjoy some of the Bronte stuff. I adore the Brontes. You know, I actually held the handwritten ms for JANE EYRE in my hands. I'm serious, it was one of the single most incredible experiences of my life. :)
kitt427
Nov. 10th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
Song and Wings
Melissa,
I have just started reading your books (Wicked and Ink so far). I read a ton of books and very few of them stick with me like yours have. Thank you.

Have you ever heard the song “The One” by Vanessa Carlton with Stevie Nicks? It seems like a song for Donia. Here is a link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ3PkTCZnzg

Also, random question – They have wings but I don’t remember anyone doing any flying?

Lisa
zotlot
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the research answer. It's gonna be hard to stay away from the faery novels though... :)
a_hoffman79
Nov. 13th, 2009 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tips on research reading! Per your recommendations, I walked up to the folklore section in my local used bookstore yesterday with the hope that there might be something mildly legit there. Lo and behold, a copy of Meeting the Other Crowd was sitting there for a mere eight bucks. This is a really, really huge bookstore (imagine warehouse size) in an area with a rich Celtic heritage (Appalachia), but I never expected it to be on the shelf right there. I snapped it right up!
dramaturgca
Nov. 16th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
How do you organize your research? Do you have it spread out in front of you when you're writing or do you keep it in files or boxes or...?
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )