Rhymes With Fuchsia

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Interview with Roxie

I've never met Roxie in person, a lack I hope to rectify someday, but we met on the Woolworks board about ten years ago, and I do take at least partial credit for starting her down the primrose path of blogging. Roxie is a Certified Master Knitter, good friend, all-around hoot, and published author of Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice. The story begins when 15-year-old Sanna leaves home to attend the Thon Academy for Young Ladies of Exceptional Talent. It's a rip-roaring read, full of knitting, magic, intrigue, a warrior prince, oh, and did I mention knitting?

Roxie was gracious enough to agree to an interview about the book, and today it's my distinct pleasure to welcome her to my humble blog. (Dave interviewed Roxie a few months ago; he asked such great questions that it took me this long to come up with some semicoherent ones of my own.)

Welcome chez Fuchsia, Roxie. It's an honor to have you here.

It's a pleasure to be here! Thank you for having me.

The first conflict Sanna faces on arrival at school is created by another girl, Ionetta, who is very unhappy and makes everyone else unhappy too. Is there any hope for Ionetta? Do you think people can learn and change?

This reminds me of a joke. How many psychoanalysts does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change.

People do the best they can with the tools they have available to get their needs met. Everyone needs to feel safe, but Ionetta has not learned to trust anyone around her, and she has formidable tools to help her get her own way without help from anyone else. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see that her way will never actually let her feel safe. Like people who think that money will buy happiness, and if they aren’t happy, they just don’t have enough money, Ionetta will continue to think that the more control she has over her life, the safer she will feel, and if she doesn’t feel safe yet, she must not have enough control. I think it would take a serious crisis in Ionetta’s life for her to really want to change, since things seem to be working all right so far.

That serious crisis and her changes would make for a very interesting future book.

I agree! Both Miss B and I eagerly await Sanna's next adventure. How many more Sanna books do you plan to write?

I dunno. Depends on how long I live. Book # 2, Sanna and the Dragons, should be available from Amazon by early December. Sanna Meets Dauntless Swiftsure has been written, and should go to press next year. Book # 4, Sanna Goes South, is fermenting in the back of my subconscious even as we speak.

Will Sanna age in subsequent books?

Yes, she goes from 15 in the first book to 18 in the third. And wait till you see her 19th birthday party in the fourth! The material becomes more adult as she ages, too.

(Guys and stuff. You know.)

Is Sanna a feminist?

This is a trick question, isn’t it? What do YOU consider a feminist? Sanna would never deny someone a chance to do something just on the basis of their personal plumbing apparatus, but she is comfortable with the idea that there are some things most women do better than most men, and vice versa. Most women do not have the upper-body strength to be a blacksmith. Most men do not have the patience and fine-motor skills to be a superb embroiderer. That doesn’t mean that no man could ever decorate a pillowcase, and no woman should ever shape a hammered copper bowl. It’s less a case of what one SHOULD do, and more a case of what one is drawn to doing.

Does Sanna think a woman needs a man? No more than she thinks a fish needs a bicycle. But most people long for a trustworthy companion, and many of us find that someone of the opposite sex shows strengths that compensate for our own weaknesses.

Sanna has a gift that demands all her time and attention. Like the Olympic athletes and performing-arts prodigies in our world, a young Sorceress doesn’t have enough hours in the day to have a social life while she learns her art. So the Guild of Sorcery provides the companionship and security she needs. It’s not an ordinary life. Great gifts require great sacrifices. Sorceresses don’t get husbands, boyfriends, or babies.

No, I didn't intend it as a trick, really. I have to admit that I would really like to see Sanna find a man, maybe a fellow Sorceror whose Talents complement hers, and vice versa?... or not. It's interesting, though, that you use embroidery as an example of a good application of feminine detail-orientedness; Newsweek did the same thing in an article many years ago and I was struck by a letter in response to the effect of, "funny you said women were good at detail work requiring great concentration, such as needlepoint, rather than '...such as neurosurgery.'"

Embroidery versus neurosurgery emphasizes the more feminine aspects of being able to stick with a detailed, tedious project for hour after hour after day after day, while the masculine types revel in the dangerous, heroic, relatively short-term feats of daring. Yes, there are female neurosurgeons. They don’t often leave the operating room with shoulders thrown back and a big grin on their faces, getting high fives from their assisting staff. There’s a joke that every nurse I have ever known just adores. How many surgeons does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one. He holds it up to the ceiling, and the entire world revolves around him.

Hmm... I don't know about the feats of daring part. A tricky neurosurgical operation can last six hours (like Taz's first one) or more, and the surgeon has to take great care to cut the right thing and not the wrong one, which may not look all that different. And it's very long hours and different patients but the same procedures, day after week after month.

I may be influenced by my acquaintance with Taz's neurosurgeon, who is not the egomaniac type. Once when Taz had come over from the rehab hospital to Children's for some minor non-neurosurgical procedure, my dad and I were having lunch at a nearby food court when Dr. M walked through on his way to the hospital. He saw us, sat down, and chatted for a few minutes about life in general. Taz didn't have an appointment with him that day; in fact he hadn't even known we were at Children's until he saw us. Another time I told him I wished we could afford to buy him a Mercedes, and he said not to worry, his Subaru ran just fine.

Dr. M sounds like a jewel! I do have to say, though, that cutting into a living brain seems pretty doggone daring to me! And a tricky six-hour operation sounds awfully heroic! Quite unlike spending six hours embroidering the bodice for a high-end wedding gown, though the finesse and concentration required may well be identical. I think the average guy (I know! There is no such person.) is more likely to run with scissors than the average woman. Something about that XY chromosome seems more receptive to risks. How many female neurosurgeons are there?

I would guess that you're right that there aren't that many — but I wonder if that could have as much to do with the time and energy required (like a sorceress, a neurosurgeon has very little time for outside pursuits such as family, and it's a longer climb through med school, internship and residency as well for neurosurgery than for, say, family practice) as with inclination to derring-do.

That said, I think you're probably also right that the preponderance of men has something to do with the high-risk nature of it, however tedious the procedures themselves may be. But let's move on...

Do you believe in magic?

Absolutely! Magic happens all the time. And I don’t mean the airyfairy cast-a-lovely-spell sort of magic. I mean stuff that we have gotten used to and don’t even think about anymore. Grape juice plus airborne yeast becomes wine all by itself. That’s pretty astounding. Or look at a sheep. How does that stinky, greasy, tatty mat of hair become stockings? There’s a whole series of fairly magical things going on all along the process. I could look at a foot every day for my whole life and never come up with the concept of a flap and the turn of the heel. Some one figured that out. Looks like magic every time I do it. Just because science can explain how something happens, doesn’t make it less magical. You inhale, oxygen from the air goes into your blood, and toxins from the wet inner parts of you turn into gas and you exhale and blow them out your nose. Scientists still don’t know exactly how that happens. They can use the process, but they don’t fully understand how it works. Sounds like magic to me.

And every morning, my husband wakes up and he still loves me. Alakazam! That’s magic for you, baby!

Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice would make a great Christmas gift for my nieces. Where can I buy it?

The book is available from Authorhouse Press and from Amazon, or you can go to your local Borders Books and order it. Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice, by Roxanna Matthews. Published on demand by Authorhouse Press.

This has been great fun, Roxie! Drop by any time.


  • Excellent interview. And I can't wait to read along as Sanna grows up. And adult content in the book would be a good thing. :)

    By Anonymous Dave Daniels, at 9:22 AM  

  • The book sounds really wonderful! Thanks for the interview and the recommendation, Lucia -- I hope this becomes a regular thing.

    By Anonymous Erica, at 9:40 AM  

  • You give great interview, Lucia! Thanks so much!!

    By Blogger Roxie, at 10:05 AM  

  • OK, I'm hooked!

    By Blogger Carol, at 3:12 PM  

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