So everyone can get to know our contributors a bit better, we’ve decided to run a series called “Meet a Contributor”. Each Contributor will be interviewed by the others in turn.
Hey, everyone. My name is Chally. (You are probably wondering how to pronounce that; I generally tell English speakers to think of it as ‘Hah-lee’.) I started writing my individual blog, Zero at the Bone, at the end of last year. This year I joined the Radical Readers feminist online bookclub, then lovely FWD/Forward, then, to my unended shock, Feministe. I am rather fond of knitting, baking, and all things pink and sparkly, but don’t tell the other feminists!! I am also very glad to be getting to know you all; here’s a bit about me. Actually, quite a lot so it’s under the cut.
Anna: Chally, I know you’re not as lucky as I am, to live in the wonderful amazing super-splendiforious land of Canadia. But, let’s say you were to live here. What are the first five things you’d do in Canada, and why? Note: Visiting me is not on your list of options. Canada is very big, and I move around a lot.
If I were to live in Canadia? Well, let’s think…
1. Pine over not getting to visit lovely Anna. Oh the pain, the pain of it all.
2. Visit my family in Toronto, who I haven’t met in a good ten years now.
3. Giggle at everyone’s adorable accents and ignore their suspicious looks when I do so.
4. Check out the scenery! I want to walk among maple trees and play in the snow. Snow is a thing of legend where I live!
5. Plan a party in which every dish features maple syrup.
lauredhel: If you had a Tardis and could go back to the past for just one day, where and when would you go? Who would you want to meet?
(For anyone who doesn’t know what a Tardis is, it’s a time and space travel machine in the television series Doctor Who.)
That is a tough one. It is potentially very sad-making, so I will come up with a happy answer. Perhaps Japan a thousand years ago. I would love to meet Murasaki Shikibu and listen to her spin her stories. She wrote The Tale of Genji, which is considered the oldest surviving novel! And I should so like to know what her real name is – it has been lost to time – as she deserves to have it passed down through history.
Or 1970s USA. I would so like to pick the brains of the fabulous feminist science fiction writer Alice B. Sheldon. She lived such an incredible life, doing everything from intelligence work for the US military to research science to chicken farming! She had a way with words that cuts to the heart of things. I’d want learn a bit about the woman behind her writing persona of James Tiptree, Jr., and tell her how much her writing has meant to me.
Or eighteenth century France, to meet Louis XV’s mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, better known as Madame de Pompadour. Curiously enough, there is a Doctor Who episode featuring her, “The Girl in the Fireplace”. When Mme de Pompadour was nine years old, a fortune teller told her mother that she was to be the king’s mistress, and this middle class woman ended up essentially ruling the country. That’s pretty incredible.
(Sensing a theme here?)
Or visiting my own birth would be pretty cool. Or some important stage in my life. Though what could I say or do? I guess that’s the case with travelling anywhen: how could you properly use the opportunity, and could you change things if you did? Ought you to?
… though if I had a Tardis, what I would probably do would be to track down the Tenth Doctor and have adventures with him!
meloukhia: I know you’re a guinea pig fan; how do you feel about Capybaras?
I will be honest with you. The first time I ever heard of capybaras was a few months ago when one appeared in my favourite webcomic, YU+ME: dream. (He was selling cabybara gyros made from his cousin, Steve.) This is because I am from Australia, and while we have cool animals like koalas and platypi and kangaroos here, we do not have capybaras. They seem very cute! Of course, how could an animal related to guinea pigs not be?
kaninchenzero: I understand you read science fiction/speculative fiction, and it’s just about all I read, so. The publishing industry in the US is insular, shall we say. Is there someone ASEAN I should be paying attention to?
I have heard this about the publishing industry in the US, particularly with regard to sci fi. The thing about the Australian publishing industry (I’m not sure about others in the region) is that it is small and books are expensive to produce. Most of what sells here is imported. Just about all my favourite SF/speculative writers are American, because that’s the community I found first, and probably the biggest one, too: Octavia E. Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Marge Piercy, Karen Joy Fowler and of course James Tiptree, Jr. (yes, they are all feminists!). (And people, you need to go read Octavia Butler, even if you read one piece of fiction in a year, seriously.) I have a few SF writers from this region I’ve dipped a little into or have noted to read: Lucy Sussex springs to mind. And Lauredhel has just reminded me of the Aurealis Awards. As for non-SF writers, I have a few favourites! Garth Nix is a lovely YA fantasy writer. I also like Emily Rodda’s children’s stuff, and Morris Gleitzman. I read a lot of YA/children’s fiction! Katherine Mansfield was one of the great women writers of the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, and she was from New Zealand.
Sadly, that’s a very white and AusNZ-centric list I have there. As a non-white person, the overwhelming presence of whiteness in popular fiction frustrates me not only for the lack of non-white presence, but because white thought, myth, story blocks take over the reader’s imagination. (Read deepad’s I Didn’t Dream of Dragons.) I was lucky enough to have access to fiction from a variety of cultures as a girl, and in primary school I went exploring for stories from my own culture, but I seem to have become lost in white imagination since. It’s quite sad, really.
That answer went off on quite a tangent. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m lost, too.
annaham: What’s new on the knitting front?
I keep forgetting to take photos of my work before I give it away! Here are some knitted pieces I made a while back. Right now I am knitting a ribbed hat which is a lovely orangey brown colour. Here is the pattern. It’s going very slowly as I’ve been busy lately and also I keep making mistakes! Hmm. I’ll take a photo of my epic ongoing French knitting project:
Her name is Josie and she is over 300 metres long.
Ouyang Dan: I scream, you scream, we both scream for ice cream! What is your best ice cream experience? I NEED DETAILS!
The best ever? That is a tough ask. Well, the other day I was at a fancy ice cream place, and they took so long with my order that I got free ice cream!! A couple of days later I had three flavours. My second latest was watermelon and tiramisu. Tiramisu is an old favourite, and I’d been meaning to try watermelon for years, so that was pretty great. Later today (it is Sunday, I am writing this from the past) I am heading to the beach and will eat more ice cream! I have been advised to cut down on dairy but surely a scoop or two couldn’t hurt, right?
… I eat so, so much ice cream.
abbyjean: i love reading fiction. what’s your favorite work of fiction?
abby, you expect me to pick just one? Well, my favourite novel is presently The Time Traveler’s Wife (did you catch my review?). My favourite author has long been Ursula K. Le Guin, and of her stuff I like Four Ways to Forgiveness and “Another Story” best. I read Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin at the start of 2008 and it blew my mind; I couldn’t enjoy other fiction for weeks after that. Octavia E. Butler’s writing is so good I can only read a little at a time, because I just get that overwhelmed with her writing. (I wrote about Ms Butler too!) I think she’s possibly the best writer I’ve ever encountered. As I mentioned above – twice! – I am a great fan of James Tiptree, Jr. Tip’s “The Women Men Don’t See” brought me into a feminist identity. Look, I just love fiction, it feels like I belong there.
amandaw: Have you traveled much? (Including within the country – going to Oregon from California was traveling for me!) Where have you gone? Where would you most like to go in the future?
I haven’t left the country since I was a little girl, actually. I’m based in Sydney, which is located in the state of New South Wales on Australia’s east coast. I’ve travelled over a fair bit of NSW, which is enormous, and it is pretty spectacular. My favourite part is just an hour or so from Sydney, though, the Blue Mountains. They’re blue because of the shine of eucalyptus oil in the sun! I’ve ventured out to Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory (though never the capital city of Canberra itself!), and I visited Victoria for the first time last year. I was head over heels for Melbourne within an hour of arriving. It’s a stylish, arty city with really good public transport, exactly my kind of place. If you ever go to Melbourne, there is a fantastic gelato place called 7 Apples on Acland St in St Kilda. Oh, St Kilda.
In the future, my first pick would be the United States, because I so want to visit my family there. And I have family everywhere from Los Angeles to Atlanta to New York, so that would be quite a trip! That’s probably my primary attraction to travel, actually, piecing together my scattered family.
Is there anything else you want to know, readers? (Or, um, maybe that was a bit much for you.) Please go ahead and ask me your own questions if you’re so inclined.