Jen Violi is a Portlandadian. Oregonista. I met her cyberspace via a person I know from the long and distant past (the 90s times radio-land) Mr. Jeff Blasinski. He said Jen reminded him of me, was also a writer, and pretty kick-ass.
He said, "You guys should be friends."
I said, "She's like me? Well, that's pretty killer. HELLS YEAH! BRING IT! WITH TWO OF ME WE SHALL TRAVEL ALL OF THE DIMENSIONS AND RULE THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN UNIVERSES! WE WILL RIDE UNICORNS INTO THE SUPERNOVA TOGETHER WITH OUR LIGHT SABERS BLAZING AND A XENA-LIKE WAR CRY UPON OUR LIPS!!!"
Then I realized that I can't actually stray that far away from the coffee maker because it physically hurts. So Jen and I shall have to wait patiently while we gather minions...
It is with great pride and evil, world dominating laughter that I bring you Jen Violi.
Q. What’s the best/worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
A. The worst came recently from a bizarre commenter on a blog post I wrote—he suggested that I pander to the leanings of my audience. Terrible advice. I’m all for revising to make something readable, to make it the best of what it is, to make it as much of a gift as I can for readers, but not for squelching my true writing voice and beliefs. The best I think came from reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones—in the late ‘90s, when I first took her suggestion to get into the practice of writing without stopping or editing myself, it was a revelation. And it still is. There’s so much good stuff and icky stuff and fascinating stuff below the surface chatter.
Q. Ampersands or hashtags?
A. Ampersands. They’re so lovely and swirly. Hashtags sounds like something you need a cream for.
Q. Turducken or stuffed squash?
A. Stuffed squash, clearly. And so it has been written, “one meat shall not be stuffed within another.” Oh wait, maybe I take that back. As with all religious proclamations, there are always exceptions. And I should not scoff at the turducken until someone makes me one. Any takers?
Q. Writing wardrobe?
A. Often, long hippie skirt or purple PJ pants. The most essential ingredient is elastic.
Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?
A. Although it seemed easier to just drink my coffee, forcing myself to eat breakfast because I know I’ll feel better for it later.
Q. What’s on your desk right now?
A. Oh, so much delight! Let’s go left to right, and I’ll stick to the highlights:
• stone turtle Buddha
• red metallic goose neck desk lamp
• the remains of my breakfast (apple, challah toast—why is that bread so GOOD, by the way? Do they put crack in it? Yam salve?)
• paperweight with a real scorpion preserved in glass
• vintage cardboard fan with a wooden handle from an Ohio funeral home. The fan features Jesus on the front and on the back, the name of the funeral home, the two digit phone number, and one of my favorite punctuation issues—bizarre/inappropriate usage of quotation marks. In this case: “Air Conditioned” (which I’m assuming didn’t work so well since they had these fans made) and “WHERE PARKING IS NO PROBLEM.”
• Dried lavender I picked in Hood River, OR
• A three-legged clay pig
• My coffee
Q. Favorite mythical creature?
A. Picking just one seems sick and wrong, but since you’ve pushed me into this corner, I’ll just keep shouting “Sasquatch!” until you bring me one to talk (grunt?) me down and carry me home in his big furry arms.
Q. Basement or Attic? Why?
A. Attic for sure. Basements are creeptastic. Attics are where you can have skylights or alcoves or sweet writing desks. Or Greg Brady’s groovy bedroom.
Q. Boots, Sneakers, or Stilettos?
A. Booooooots. Because it’s the most fun to say. Also, neither my skeletal system nor my lack of grace allow me to wear anything with a heel.
Q. If you could collaborate on a project with anyone living, dead or imaginary, who would you pick?
A. Hands down, Freddie Mercury. He and I would write the BEST MUSICAL EVER.
Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.
A. I’m working on the eighth draft of a new novel, while still spreading the word about novel # 1 (Putting Makeup on Dead People), blogging here and there and everywhere, slathering as much awesomesauce as I can onto my monthly email newsletter for my bizness (you can sign up at www.jenvioli.com!), continuing to grow my work as writing coach and developmental editor, and last but not least, exploring the staggering realm of possibility that is making puddings out of coconut milk.