An Unlikely Interview with Levi Sable
The idea of knitting code, which is central to Dropped Stitches, is a fascinating one. Are you a knitter? Could you tell us a bit about where the inspiration for the story came from, and how it developed?
I am a devoted ex-knitter. My aunt taught me when I was about twelve—I spent a lot of time in high school knitting in class. I liked starting projects but never finishing them; I bought fancy wool and bamboo needles and they just grew sadder and dustier and a few years ago I sold them all on craigslist for $20 or so. As far as Dropped Stitches, I think the original idea came from a conversation my partner and I had a long time ago. We were looking at knitting patterns and discussing how interesting and complicated they were. Traditionally feminine things like knitting can be so technically complicated, and often garner so little respect. It’s frustrating and intriguing. I wanted to explore a society where something traditionally “unimportant” like knitting is very important — and also to keep it within the feminine sphere.
In addition to your fiction, you also blog regularly for VillageQ and QueerDadsBlog. Does your non-fiction writing inform your fiction, or is it a way to engage a totally different part of your brain when you’re stuck on a scene or a plot point?
I think non-fiction is a great way to approach writing from a different angle. It helps me clarify what I want to say and what I mean to say in both non-fiction and fiction. At least, I hope it does! Non-fiction also makes me appreciate how easy and smooth fiction writing is. Fiction is like walking, and non-fiction is like learning to dance. They both use my feet but only one of them is for everyday use.
On a related note, you wrote about fostering raccoons for VillageQ. Color us intrigued. Is this an ongoing thing? Could you tell us more about the raccoon fostering experience?
I won’t be doing it this season because I have a lot of other things going on, so whether it’s ongoing is up in the air. Raccoon fostering was exhausting and difficult and gave me a lot of respect for folks who save wild animals. It was a lot of bottle feeding and snuggling cute and cuddly babies, until they weren’t bottle feeding all of a sudden, and then they weren’t generally snuggly, either. It was an excellent proof of nature/nurture, and the way that even sweet, well-treated wild animals are still, genetically, wild animals. Also, baby raccoons chirp and purr and kneed like kittens. Just about the cutest thing you can imagine. (You can see some adorable pictures on VillageQ at http://www.villageq.com/raccoon-summer/)
Some authors require complete silence when they write, others need their desk arranged a certain way, or their favorite tea mug at hand. What does your ideal writing space look like — either the place where you actually write, or the imaginary place where you wish you could write?
My ideal writing place is a room full of lazy dogs and a vat full of always-fresh coffee. Lately, I’ve been writing at the dining table, watching the birds on my bird feeders and the squirrels in my backyard. It’s pretty ideal. There’s only one lazy dog, but I’m working on my partner on that one.
We all start somewhere, and the learning curve from first publication is a steep one. What’s your first ever published work, and how do you feel about it now?
Technically? I won first place in my grade level (fourth?) for an MLK-day essay. I’m pretty sure it was two paragraphs long. It’s been lost to history and I couldn’t be happier.
Aside from that, my first adult work was a short story in Spellbound. Looking back on it, I’m pretty happy, both in that it’s not terrible, and also in that I’ve improved quite a bit since then. It was a fun kids story and I’m so glad they took it!
When your creative brain needs recharging are there any particular hobbies you turn to, people you talk to, or places you go to refresh yourself?
Plants. I have a lot of houseplants and several outdoor gardens. Gardening is a very calming activity for me — it can be low-impact exercise and also lets my brain wander just enough to get reset and happy.
Twenty years is a geological microsecond, but is a vast stretch for a person, no matter how quickly it seems to slip away, and it can be interesting to think about what one’s characters might be doing twenty years in their futures. Do you see anything interesting in any of your character’s futures that you’d be willing to share with us?
Twenty years…Claudia and Jennifer are probably getting old. I feel like, no matter what happens with her expected baby, Jennifer’s not going to have changed much. She might be full of regrets but I don’t think she’s the type to learn from her mistakes. I think Claudia will have gotten more honestly bitter, in a way that’s really good for her. I think she’ll be all out of caring for what people think, and she’ll be happier for it.
We all have our favorite authors, some of whom everyone has heard of, and some of whom are relatively obscure. Who is one of the more obscure writers you love? What do you love about their work? Tell us which story or novel of theirs we should drop everything to read right now.
Aside from everyone who was published in the Long Hidden anthology? Everyone should read Better Girls from Broken Parts by Nino Cipri, and also keep an eye out for their story Shape of My Name coming on Tor.com next month. Nino is a SUPER talented writer and I’m excited to see what they do next.
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22 tales to horrify and delight, by authors Derek Manuel, T. Jane Berry, J.H. Pell, Jeff Wolf, Kristen Roupenian, Carolyn M. Yoachim, Mari Ness, Evan Dicken, Carlie St. George, Line Henriksen, Virginia M. Mohlere, Dayle A. Dermatis, Jason Arias, Joe Nazarre, Karlo Yeager-Rodruigez, Sara K. McNeilly, Chris Kuriata, Cassandra Khaw, Cate Gardner, Charles Payseur, Chillbear Latrigue, and Holly Schofield, with an introduction by Robin Blyn and illustrations by Bryan Prindiville.