Now for my favorite part of every Breathless Reads week—the interview portion! Today I have Andrea Cremer, who gives excellent answers to nosy questions and even outguesses me in several places.
First, a quick contest side-note: I’m running things just like last time. All you have to do comment here and you’ll be entered to win a signed, finished copy of Nightshade. On Sunday, after 8:00pm Eastern, I’ll draw two names—one from the comments on this post, and one from Wednesday’s post—and announce the winners next week. If you don’t have a livejournal, be sure to include a name and your email address in your comment. Also, apologies to the international people—I’ve officially had it confirmed that the contest is US-only, so I’ll have to come up with something for you guys soon.
And now, Andrea Cremer! (Just a warning—I went kind of overboard with questions about political theory because I love it, and Nightshade has plenty!)
1) First, I am so jealous of Calla’s Big Ideas class. Not only does it sound like a lot of fun, but you’ve made the philosophy discussions totally accessible and it adds a great layer of metaphor to what’s going on outside of school. I was wondering, what made you decide to use social contract theory as a trope for the craziness that is Calla’s life?
My ‘day job’ is being a history professor and I specialize in the early modern period (1500-1800) which is when all those social contract ideologies were being tossed around, so I spend a lot of my days thinking about that stuff. I’m fascinated by competing theories about why societies form and how they can be managed.
2) Here is an age-old question, because I am nosy and never get tired of asking it: who is your favorite character in the Nightshade world?
It’s hard to pick a favorite character because I love them all so much. I’d say the character I feel closest to is Calla’s younger brother, Ansel. Of all the characters in Nightshade he’s the only one who was inspired by a person from my own life – my little brother, Garth. He’s not so little any more, but we’ve always been very close and that definitely played a part in Calla and Ansel’s relationship.
3) In your other life, you’re a history teacher. (Get ready for a totally leading question.) Do you think your history background has anything to do with the very political relationship that exists between the Guardians and the Keepers, and even within the packs themselves?
Uhhhh, what? Just kidding! Of course. As I said earlier I specialize in the early modern era, and more specifically I research the intersection of religion, gender, and violence. The ways that ideology and sexual politics shape culture and are used to enforce hierarchies was always in my mind as I wrote Nightshade.
4) You mention on your site that you have a younger brother. Was your relationship with him in any way an inspiration for the relationship between Calla and Ansel, or is that completely made-up?
Uh-oh – I keep scooping your questions. Hee, hee. In case you missed it earlier, yes, my brother Garth inspired Ansel.
5) As a writer, what word would you personally never, ever use?
Pulchritude. I hate that word. Also sanguine – but that’s because I love the word sanguinary (bloody) and sanguine means pleasant. What’s up with that? I have an entire blog post devoted to words I can’t stand. I am fussy about words.
6) You and Calla both really like Watership Down. As it happens, I also really like Watership Down—meaning, I think it is one of the best books ever written—and I was wondering if it inspired you at all when writing Nightshade. (I swear I can see threads of it, but I was an English major, so I can see threads of anything anywhere.)
Ahhhhh!! You love Watership Down too?? It IS one of the best books ever written! You saw threads of it in Nightshade??? I love you! Okay, I’ve calmed down now. I’m so flattered and I think the resonance between the books is a reflection of what I loved about Watership Down – the complex relationships that exist in the natural world and the creation of an original mythology to accompany that world. Also, brutality. Life is hard. Life requires a lot of surviving in addition to creating and thriving.
7) Lastly and of critical importance: do you like cupcakes? If so, what is your favorite flavor? If not . . . well, then I will be sad that you just don’t find the same unadulterated joy in them that I do.
I think you must come to visit me because 1) you are cool and 2) there is a café not 4 blocks from my house called Cupcake. They don’t sell cupcakes, but…ha! OF COURSE they sell cupcakes! My favorite is a tie between red velvet and carrot cake cupcakes. As you can likely surmise I have a liking for cream cheese frosting. In fact, now that it’s October I’m wondering if a cupcake exists that is pumpkin with cheesecake frosting. Someone find me that cupcake!
Thanks so much for having me, Brenna. Now you know how weird I am.
Thanks for stopping by, Andrea! Also, weird is good. I realize it’s not a contest, but I feel that we’re probably pretty fairly matched in our weirdness :)