Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Saturday, June 11, 2011

An Interview with Amy Corwin

This is a strange blog for me. Normally, I prefer to write about the craft of writing, research, life’s general weirdness, and occasionally my books. But a group of fellow writers convinced me to participate in a blog chain on the specious grounds that it’s fun. So here it is. One of my fictional characters, Miss Prudence Barnard, will interview me. Yes, that’s right, the character will interview the writer—not the other way around. And let’s remember this is theoretically fun.

So who is Miss Barnard, anyway? In The Vital Principle, Pru is a spiritualist, though not by choice or even nature. She’s fallen into that pastime to survive in the early years of the 19th century when there was precious little work for a lady. Or rather, there was no work available for a lady if she wished to remain a lady. So Pru, being a spinster with a tiny income, has become a professional guest. She’s invited to various house parties (saving her the cost of rent and food, although the tips for servants are outrageously expensive) because she’s entertaining and seems to be able to talk to the spirit world, which amuses her hosts. Usually. Until her most recent host is murdered.

Oh, by the way, she’s also a fraud and was accused of murder, but that’s another matter, entirely.

Amy Corwin’s Interview conducted by Miss Prudence Barnard

After unhitching the horses from Miss Barnard’s carriage and releasing them into the yard where they will hopefully get along with our two dogs and not eat too many roses, Amy invites Miss Barnard into her log home.

“Take a seat,” Amy says, waving toward the living room before she rushes to pick up the pile of computer, archaeology, and gardening magazines from the sofa. With a glance at the television (muted because her husband seems to enjoy having moving pictures without sound) she also picks up the remote control and turns it off the moving pictures.

Miss Barnard glances around, takes in the two cats flopping around on the floor, the detritus from the dogs, and delicately sits on the edge of the leather loveseat. “Thank you for your invitation.”

“No—thank you! You’re the one doing the interview. So ask away.” Amy distractedly looks around to find another more-or-less open place to sit. She winds up on the edge of the sofa, trying to push Psycho, a toothless and not particularly cooperative marmalade cat off the seat.

The cat immediately jumps into her lap, despite Amy's efforts to remain somewhat cat and cat-hair-free.

“Well, yes.” Miss Barnard rearranges her skirts and smoothes the dark silk. She turns her head to glance out the front window. She frowns. “I beg your pardon, but I have to ask, why is there a skeleton hanging from a tree near the driveway?”

“Oh, you noticed that, did you?” Amy says, trying not to scream when Psycho, in a sudden fit of insanity, grabs her wrist with his two front paws and begins rabbit punching her.

“One could hardly miss it.”

“It’s to discourage unwanted visitors. Will you stop that!" She shakes Psycho loose. He sprawls on the floor before getting up and rushing over to attack the other cat, Cricket. Both animals yowl and begin chasing each other through the living room, knocking over books and magazine with abandon.

Miss Barnard flushes, but continues gamely, “I see—”

“Doesn’t seem to work very well, though. We still get visitors.”

“If you’re implying—”

“I rarely feel the need to imply. When you’re over fifty, you pretty much just say it right out.” The back door slams open and two dogs rush through the house. Cricket, seeing the dogs, yowls. The dogs, seeing Cricket, rush out the front door. Amy ignores them. Cricket decides to also push open the front door and go outside. Psycho resumes his previous interest in Amy's lap and ensconces himself firmly therein.

“I beg your pardon, you’re…well…not very cooperative.”

“Really? Fancy that. Maybe that’s why I write mysteries like A Rose Before Dying. And by the way, stop begging my pardon. I’m not in a position to grant anyone a pardon, least of all a murder suspect.” The animals may take advantage of me, but I'm darned if I'll let a character I made up do so.

Pru straightens and nearly stands before she takes a deep breath. “I sense a certain resistance. Are you certain you want to be interviewed?”

“I’m certain I don’t want to be interviewed, but I agreed, so let’s just get this over with, shall we? You want something to drink?”

“A cup of tea would be lovely.”

“How about tea in exchange for a spirit session? I’ve been told the place is haunted. So far, no luck finding anything except a few snakes wandering around the house. One even tried to use my sewing machine but a lack of hands put a damper on things.” I start getting wound up. "You'd think the least these dogs and cats could do would be to keep the snakes out of the house, but nooooo. They have to act like the Bumpus dogs on Thanksgiving and dash through the house at regular intervals, leaving a trail in destruction in their wake."

“I’d really rather not conduct a spirt session at the moment. I'm sure you understand,” she says, looking around.

“You’re not afraid of snakes, are you?”

“No of course not. You don’t keep them in the house, do you? As pets?”

“Our pets are those hoodlum dogs and cats. If the occasional snake gets inside, it’s due to its own initiative. The best I can do is grab the snake tongs and throw them outside.”

“Do you think there are any here? At the moment?”

I shrug. What can I say? I’m not in control of my environment. When you live in a log home at the edge of a swamp, you take what comes. I know that. I’m resigned. “So, you want to get back to the interview?”

“I’m sorry.” She stands. “But I’ve just remembered another engagement.”

“A séance?”

“Yes. Quite. But thank you, I’ve enjoyed our visit.”

“Wait a minute,” I say as I open the door for her. “It’s still daylight—what kind of a séance starts at two in the afternoon?”

“An urgent one, I’m afraid.” She glides past me and gestures for her driver to catch their horse. Just in time, too, because it was munching on one of my favorite roses, Yolanda. In the meantime, our dogs have come back and have started eyeing the horse with a gleam in their eyes that boded ill for the spindly-legged beast.

“Come back soon!” I yell.

She glances over her shoulder. I could see the words form in her dark eyes, “Certainly. Right after Hell freezes over.”

-------Here is a list of the participants in the Heart of Carolina Writers Blog Chain
Full list of participants:

Aimee Laine:

Lyla Dune :

Carol Strickland :

Amy Corwin : *** Me ***
Lilly Gayle :

Rebekkah Niles :

Laura Browning :

Andris Bear :

Marcia Colette :

Nancy Badger :

Sarah Mäkelä :

Jennifer Harrington :

Scott Berger :


Carol A. Strickland said...

ROTF!!! What a great scene of household mayhem! Your place sounds uncomfortably like mine.

Gee, I remember Pru from ages ago, back when she was just starting out. I'm so glad she's still in the business of sponging off others. And really, if she's going to do so, she shouldn't be so picky about tiny, itsy-bitty bits of domestic armageddon.

Andris Bear said...

Loved your interview! And your attitude! bahahah! Delightful read.

Amy said...

Glad you both liked it :). I've learned to pretty much roll with the punches these days, which I think is overall a good thing.

Rebekkah Niles said...

I died laughing in this interview. It sounds like you've got a really interesting household! I want to see your tree-skeleton sometime. That sounds hilarious. Hope there's no snakes helping you type right now...

Amy said...

As far as I know, we're snake-free indoors. At the moment.

But you never know.

Aimee Laine said...

Hehehehehehehehe. That was too funny. You and your character aren't on agreeable terms, now, are you? :) And you have crazy animals! LOL Gotta love 'em. :)

Lilly Gayle said...

Love your interview style, Amy. This was so funny. And althoug poor Pru didn't get much of a chance to interview you, you still managed to reveal so much. Love it. And I love Pru. I'm reading The Vital Principal again. I loved the original draft, but the final product is amazingly well-written and quite clever. Love it. As soon as I'm done, I'll post a review!

Scott B. said...

Amy, this was way too funny! I half expected to read about you and Pru getting into fisticuffs. What a delight to read. Thank you. And I concur with Carol - it sounds way too much like my home!

Amy said...

Thanks everyone! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And Gayle, thanks for the nice words about The Vital Principle!

Jennifer Delamere said...

Wow, a log home next to a swamp, and a complete menagerie as well! Sounds like there's never a dull moment at your house, as Pru discovered. Pru seems to have held her own, despite the long odds. Thanks for the fun read!