Saturday, October 10, 2009
Zombie Cookbook writer Lin Neiswender
Next in our lineup of undead authors is Lin Neiswender. I know Lin mainly from Dan Goodwin's CoachCreativeSpace, which is a wonderful network if you are an artist-at-large. Lin is not only a writer but also a talented collage artist and very supportive of other artists and writers. She belongs to or facilitates several groups online and in person, and has to be one of the busiest women I know.
Her short story "The Right Recipe" is a witty look at the life of a zombie food critic who offends the wrong reader.
You can reach her through her website The Land of Lin. Her collage work is here. Welcome, Lin!
Tell us a little about yourself!
LN: I knew from childhood, with the rich language of Alabama firing my imagination, that I was destined to be a writer but lacked the courage to follow through on my dreams until recent years. I now live in Central Florida and the climate must agree with me, as I have finally blossomed into a bonafide writer. My work has appeared in Flashshot, the short story anthology The Zombie Cookbook, and the poetry anthology "Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes: Zany Zombie Poetry for the Undead Head". I have a bottom drawer stuffed with novels in various stages of completion. I hope to be nudging (or bulldozing) them toward publication.
I spend my spare time collaging, cruising the Internet, and playing with my Shetland Sheepdog who thinks it is his job to try and kill the mailman.
How long have you been writing?
LN: I probably started scribbling on the nursery room wall as a baby! I had an active imagination and loved to read so writing was a natural for me. I can remember school papers being read to the class as early as 4th grade. I think that's when I knew I was supposed to be a writer. I just didn't believe it until I was an old lady!
What are you currently working on/have coming out?
LN: I'm working on some flash fiction pieces and- oh yes- another zombie anthology piece. There is just something about me and zombies this year, some simpatico connection. Perhaps I am just on a roll.
What drew you to the Zombie Cookbook?
LN: Zombies + Recipes = Fun! Struck me funny from the get-go and I knew I had to write for the anthology. Where else would there be such a combination? I responded to the challenge immediately.
What was your inspiration for your piece?
LN: I used recipes as the jumping-off point, and wanted to make them humorous. I thought about putting them in email format and the rest of the story evolved from there. I wanted humor to leaven the required zombie gore.
What's your writing day like?
LN: Sit in a chair, drink coffee, beat head on table, repeat till ideas come out. I seem to be more of a night owl than a day-timer, although when there is a deadline, anytime is writing time. I have to guard against the Great Evil: email. That is the greatest time-sucker known to humankind. If I'm not careful, it eats up my writing time and I wonder why I don't have anything finished.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
LN: I'm a pantser with designs on being a plotter. I know it would make my life simpler to have a plan for my writing, but it kinda sucks the thrill out of it to have it plotted too much. My greatest problem is not having enough of the plot done to give me a good sense of direction. That leads to some frustrating dead-ends and back-tracking. But it's all a learning experience.
How do you deal with writer's block, if you have it?
LN: Email. It was invented for writer's block. Also web-surfing and mindless tweeting. Seriously, I try to brainstorm my way out of it, if I can. Failing that I turn to my support group of friends for help. Talking it over helps me.
What is the genre that speaks to you?
LN: I don't know that any one genre trips my trigger so much as novels with great sweep to them, where stories of personal change and great storytelling meet. This can be in any genre- I like them all.
What themes do you return to over and over?
LN: The human spirit's capacity to evolve upward, the redeeming power of love, doing the right thing, how friendship sustains us in hard times.
I know you've been working on a novel which intrigues me, as it deals with COPD. Tell us a little more about that.
LN: The Three Marys explores the complex relationships of three women friends who wait for life-giving lung transplants. It's fueled by real-life interest on my part as I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and will be facing a lung transplant somewhere down the line. It is heartbreaking to see your friends die and life-changing to have to confront your own mortality. I wanted to explore those themes in the novel, but sometimes I have had to step away from the book when it became too personal. I had to get some distance from it. I want to resume work on it shortly.
You are also a collage artist--how does that feed your fiction?
LN: My collage work is intuitive, starting from an initial idea or impression and selecting and modifying images to work together to support the vision. My fiction works much the same way. I'm thinking of using some of my collage pieces as story cards for some fiction much like Tarot cards and seeing what I come up with. Probably something I can use- perhaps even this year's National Novel Writing Month novel. By the way, my Orlando writing group Wannabee Writers is hosting NaNoWriMo write-ins on Sundays in November from 5 to 7 PM. We will meet at Starbucks in Colonial Plaza, intersection of Bumby Avenue and Colonial Drive. Locals invited to stop by and write with us.
How long have you known Carla, and how does she support you as a writer?
LN: Carla Girtman and I go way back, almost 20 years ago to a little writer's group we formed after taking a creative writing class that changed my whole perception of myself as a writer. We've been good friends ever since and continued our writing association to this day. Carla is great to give a critique, help brainstorm, and offer moral support plus she's a funny and very talented writer. She's been a good regular friend too, and I am lucky to have her in my life.
You are insanely busy! How do you get it all done?
LN: Google Calendar and Tasks are my new best friends! I had to start writing things down because I was having too many embarrassing brain farts like forgetting special occasions, meetings and deadlines. Not cool. I still miss some and the house is a wreck, but what the hay, I'm pedaling this hamster wheel as fast as I can.
Who are your favorite writers?
LN: My Number One squeeze has to be Ray Bradbury. He marries superior storytelling with lyrical writing. Others are Larry McMurty, Pat Conroy, James Clavell, Stephen King.
What's the scariest book you ever read?
LN: A couple stand out- Bram Stoker's "Dracula" had me sleeping with the lights on for a good week after reading it under the covers as a kid. Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" is right up there, as is Whitley Strieber's "Communion". George Orwell's "1984" made quite an impression on my young mind too. Those horrible rats!
Here's one from the Proust questionnaire: What are your favorite qualities in a zombie?
LN: Shaken not stirred, easy on the pineapple juice. Oh, not that kind of zombie... well then, one retaining most vital body parts and fresh enough not to be trailing a cloud of flies. Sense of humor a plus as well as a command of the English language beyond grunts and groans.