The Le Guin-terview is a new feature for SpecFic NZ, inspired by the Proust Questionnaire (or, more directly, ReadNZ’s Mansfield Questionnaire and the Sapling’s Mahy Questionnaire) where we put some questions to a local author.
Ursula Le Guin was one of the finest SpecFic authors of our times, and many of these questions are inspired by her thoughts and work.
Our first guest is Wellington-based author Sascha Stronach.
- Describe yourself in three words:
Highly Anomalous Event
- Which living person do you most admire?
The person reading this; you’re crushing it today.
- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. I live my life falling head-first down the stairs.
- What is your favourite word or phrase?
I’m honestly not sure, but according to at least three different exasperated editors, it’s the em-dash.
- “Some dreams tell us what we wish to believe. Some dreams tell us what we fear. Some dreams are of what we know though we may not know we knew it. The rarest dream is the dream that tells us what we did not know.” Tell us about the most vivid dream you remember.
The most vivid dream I ever had wasn’t a dream: when I was living in Indonesia, a nearby volcano blew and covered the whole town in ash. I woke up in the morning, opened the curtains, and saw the world outside in monochrome, with white flakes drifting from the sky; rural Indonesia turned into a 50s Christmas movie. My logic-circuit broke, and I started walking around the house still in a dream-state. A neighbour came to check on me and found me on the kitchen floor in my PJs, following an ant in circles. I don’t know how long I’d been doing it. I don’t know why I did it, but you don’t ever ask why in dreams.
- Writing: what’s the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?
Inspiration is pretty cheap—every writer has got more ideas than hours in the day to write them.
- “A novelist’s business is lying.” Tell us an interesting lie.
Never ask questions of a cat: they remember Ubar, and will answer truthfully.
- Where have you had the worst time of your life?
In Harmelerwaard, a bucolic Dutch hamlet where I almost died three times: of frostbite, by drowning, and after hitting a nesting swan on my bike.
- Are you haunted by anything?
There’s this woman in a white dress and dark eyes who keeps showing up at my window and leading me to a spot in the moors where only man is foolish enough to tread. Each night, she sings one verse of the song that will reopen the worldwound. She sings in more voices than I have numbers for. I should ask her out for coffee or something.
- If you could live on any fictional planet, which would it be?
The parallel Earth that doesn’t have to deal with Nazis and global warming.
- Complete this sentence: The first story I wrote was . . .
about me going to an Egyptian exhibit at Te Papa, and there was a mummy. I hid until after dark then got teleported to ancient Egypt, where I ran away from an army of mummies. They caught me and I woke up, because I’d been dreaming. Then I opened my hand and there was … SAND IN IT. The teacher put it up on the wall.
- The last great book you read, album you heard and film you saw…
Amberlough, The Impossible Kid, Midsommar. I’m behind on everything, if that wasn’t obvious.
- Inwards, or outwards?
I’d like to say outwards, but I know myself well enough at this point to know it’s not true.
- What’s to gain by silence?
If there’s anything, I haven’t found it.
- What have you got coming out soon?
My first novel, The Dawnhounds, is berserk operatic hopepunk about LGBT+ pirates saving a world that refuses to save them. It’s out on November 6th via Amazon.