Hello Skye and welcome to The Hat Party <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!
What is your super secret, wildest, most outlandish writing dream?
I want to go back in time and be the one to have written the song “Pancho and Lefty,” but then there’d be no Townes Van Zandt, and who wants to live in that world?
What is your superpower? What is your Kryptonite?
It’s not that super, but I’m actually pretty good at wrapping presents. Kryptonite? Curry chips.
Give a shout-out to another author who may, or may not, know how much you appreciate them.
I think she knows, but I’m the biggest fangirl of Michelle Tea. I love all her writing, across all kinds of genres, and I love the way she runs her professional life as a writer. I’d like to grow up to be that kind and funny in person and that sharp and heartbreaking on paper.
What important thing would you give up in order to continue writing?
I would consider a trial separation from foods based on the potato, but I’m at least 75% Irish, so I can’t guarantee how long that would last.
You have 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)
"Fey musicians'll dance you to death if they take a mind to. They can make you do whatever they want." Her eyes were down, fixed on my wrists. I looked into the crisp forest of curls at her hairline. She murmured to my mouth: "Doesn't seem fair."
… Nicky's fingers hooked my jeans where the scarf met them. We kissed with mouths closed for a breath or two, until I felt the dart of her tongue and I lost my balance and groped to the side for the table. Cinnamon, cigarette smoke, and something else, something warm and organic that was entirely her. Her hands crept across my shoulderblades and then up along my neck to rake through my hair. I felt heat drop a plumb line through my body and there was a direct channel from where she was licking my neck to whatever was happening between my legs and my cheeks were burning coals and when her hand strayed across one nipple and my legs stopped holding me up and she stepped in between them until my weight was held up by the table I thought: This is happening. Right now.
- from Pretty Peg
You’re writing along and you’re attacked by a horde of zombies…ON FIRE…how do you survive? Or do you become a zombie too?
I had to consult my wife on this one (she’s an expert The Walking Dead fan). What you do is pretend to be a zombie too, then when they’re not looking, you light them on fire … oh, wait.
Your thoughts on libraries: GO!
I’m from a tiny, tiny rural community. I pretty much grew up in the county branch of the public library. By 6th grade I had worked my way through the rest of the fiction and started the science fiction and fantasy shelf alphabetically. That turned out to be a mind-opener, a haven for the parts of me that needed a place to hide, and an escape in the most urgent sense. And I’m still working through the alphabet, because my favorite authors keep writing new books! I’ll let you know when I get to Roger Zelazny.
What was the trigger that made you first get really serious about being a Capital A Author?
My friend David West, who has been a writer for much longer than I, dared me to write a novel – "no subplot, not too complicated." I don't think that's what I delivered
Be totally honest. How awesome would you be at leading a moon colony?
My experience teaching music classes tells me nobody would do what I said, but at least their rebellion would have the best hootenannies.
And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kinds of dachshunds?
Dachshunds in their youth are hopelessly irresistible.
~ ~ ~
High school senior Josy Grant already had plenty on her plate before she found the magic puppet theater her murdered sister left behind. Despite Josy’s grief, the responsibility of taking care of her family falls to her, and being queer doesn’t make dealing with school any easier. Things only get worse when sexy new girl Nicky tells Josy her sister died at the hands of a mysterious figure from the Faerie Realm called the Woodcutter, and if they can’t stop him, Josy and her remaining sister will be next.They have just days before the Woodcutter strikes again on the autumn equinox, so Josy follows Nicky into the Faerie Realm to hunt him. Along the way, she discovers fey gifts of her own and answers to the questions that have driven the Grant family apart. Nothing comes for free when dealing with fey, though, and those gifts and answers might come at a terrible price.
On Monday morning, getting ready for school, I could not find my yellow high-tops. I had other shoes, but Mondays were hideous enough without my favorites. I finally spotted one under the dresser. I pulled it out and my head came up level with my chair, where my sister Margaret's puppet theater rested. There was bossy little Mom, front and center, four inches high with a felt-tip frown.I picked the paper doll up. That wasn't Mom. This little figure was chubby, with a striped miniskirt and lace-up boots. The short hair was streaked with pink.
It was me.
I ran a fingertip over the lentil-sized heart drawn in orange pencil on her t-shirt. The last time I saw Margaret, I'd had a mass of frizzy dark hair that I mostly kept tied back in a gigantic ponytail. Not a hot look for a 17-year-old girl, but I was a size 20. The only way to survive high school was not to be seen, in spite of my bulk. Or so I'd always thought until my best friend Neil sat me down for a style makeover before senior year started and made me promise to stop wearing men's button-downs to school. He'd even gotten me to throw on one of my own Frankengowns to wear to a show at Fern's last week – the first time I'd worn one anyplace other than babysitting his sisters. Next came the swingy skirts and the trip to Sephora. Last week was the latest installment in the transformation of Josy Grant, when he'd put pink streaks in my now-bobbed hair.
Margaret had died almost six months ago. There was no way she could have known I'd have pink hair.
I had found the puppet theater last night, looking for batteries in the garage. A big box with MARGARET written on it in Sharpie had been peeking out from a top shelf -- a box I'd never seen before. In it was a fat envelope of photos, and her blue graduation cap, and a child's softball mitt that filled my throat with tears when I touched it. And the puppet theater.
Now, in my room, I picked up the little cardboard structure and turned it all the way around. Silver stars drifted out of the velvet curtain and disappeared into the carpet. The construction was not complicated or especially sturdy. Balsa wood beams provided the bones. The cardboard floor was painted with scratched brown tempera paint. Nothing on the back but faded blue construction paper stapled to the old detergent box that was the frame. The paper Mom doll that had been on the stage last night, with her swirl of silver hair and stern mouth, was gone.
I examined the trinkets that hung from the wire across the top of the theater. Miniature plastic soldiers maneuvered along a knotted string, aiming their rifles at a beer-mug keychain. Maybe the soldiers were my brother Robert and the mug was Dad. An airplane was suspended from fishing line at the other end. That could be Mom. Hooked over the curtain wire was a tiny piano: the universal symbol for my sister Laura, older than me by one year, but not what you'd call wiser. In my opinion.
There was an object for everyone in the family, dangling from that wire. I looked for mine, but all I saw was paper Josy, with a devious red smile, ten times prettier than real life.
Laura had to be messing with the puppet theater. I hadn't shown it to her last night, but she could have snooped. I tried to recall whether I'd heard a break in the piano scales while I was in the shower. That would have been her opportunity to breach security in my room.
I pulled my school gear together and went out to the living room to ask her why the practical joke, but I should have known by the silence that she'd already left for class. If my sister was home, she was practicing. She got married to that instrument way before I could remember. Laura playing was like there being oxygen in the air, or ground-up painkillers in Mom's tea. That was the Grant Family Home.
Except that Mom had boarded a plane for India yesterday, return date TBD.
I double-checked the deadbolt before leaping down the steps to run for the bus. The sun was already hot at eight in the morning. The air was full of cut grass and the sound of garbage trucks. September is the summeriest month in Oakland. I hated spending it locked up in McLean High, but this was the last year I would have to.
What inspired you to write the book you’re promoting?
The plot for Pretty Peg is taken from a traditional Scottish ballad called “The Bonnie Banks o’ Fordie,” which is about incest. I was fascinated by the way each of the 3 sisters handled the situation in the song, and by the ultimate resolution (but that would be spoiling).
Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?
One thing that’s not super obvious until you read it is that the main character, Josy, is plus-sized. I felt like it was meaningful to have a teenage hero – and she does get pretty heroic – who was fat and was seen as incredibly sexy, not just by the elf girl who falls in love with her but by other people she encounters in the fey world.
What are your hopes for this title?
Pretty Peg is my first book, and practically my first thing in print ever. I’m already bowled over that people actually want to read it.
Available from Dreamspinner Press
About the Author: Skye Allen has had short fiction published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds and poetry in Insomnia and Sinister Wisdom. She works as a singing teacher and occasionally performs Irish music around the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her wife, two cats, and four chickens.