Interview: Kristen Lippert-Martin, YA Author

largeraviKristen Lippert-Martin is a practicing nerd and holder of many opinions. Her debut YA thriller, Tabula Rasa (EgmontUSA), Fall 2014, is about a girl whose memory is forcibly stripped from her and so naturally she must kick everyone’s butt in retaliation. Kristen lives with her merry band of misfits––ie., her husband and four kids––outside Washington, D.C.

Her WiP is a YA novel called ENAMORED. It’s my first stab at writing fantasy. She describes it as “The Princess Bride meets Graceling.” Please note: There are no dragons in it.

Keep up with Kristen on her blog.

Let’s see how Kristen answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
I actually love to write. I know some people like “having written,” but I like the act of writing itself, which is probably the only reason I’ve kept at it all this time through all the disappointments and rejection. Oh, and I also love to walk. So I guess my happiest times are when I’m out on a walk and I get an idea that I can’t wait to plug into whatever I’m working on. Rushing back to my desk to create something––that’s when I’m happiest.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play blues guitar.

On what occasion do you lie?
I lie constantly! :) Here’s the “lie” I tell most often to myself and others: Everything’s gonna be OK.

I don’t believe it’s actually lying but it’s not necessarily telling the truth either. I know rotten things happen to people all the time, but I still tell that lie every day. How do you get along in life with lying?

What is your present state of mind?
Amused. Most of the time I am amused.

What is your motto?
“Live your life so that you have no fear of the truth.” I know it might seem odd in light of my answer about lying buuuuttt…. :)  I got it from Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers). I interpret it to mean that you should be honest about who you are and show that to world all the time. I suppose it’s just another way of saying, let your life be an open book worth reading.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker. I have no idea when I first heard it, but I remember seeing Joe Cocker perform on TV once as kid and thinking, “Whaaaaa? He can’t sing at all!” Ha. That song is righteous.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Kindness. The people I most admire are kind even when they’re going through something awful in their own lives.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Just about every character in my stories starts speaking with, “Well,” “OK,” or “So.” And then throws in “kinda” or “I guess” at some point. I have to scrub all that out during revision with a big wire brush.

And then there’s JUST. But we all struggle with that one.

Also: hence, thus, profound, torment, and empyrean (ha, kidding. I’ve never even used empyrean one time, but maybe now I’ll try to find a place for it in my WiP).

Oh, and for some reason I like the word “effervescent.” I mean, who doesn’t like effervescence? But you can really only use that one time per manuscript. It’s just one of those words.

Your favorite painting?
I have a painting in my living room that was done by a friend/neighbor of my parents. It’s just a scene of the winter woods. It’s all white and lonely, with a single cardinal sitting in a tree. Bright, small, and unlikely.

Reminds me of being in a teenager in Upstate NY. I used to stare out my window at the barren winter woods behind my house wondering what I’d ever make of myself.

My dreams were bright, small, and unlikely. And they all came true.

What is your favorite journey?
I’m a cyclist. I love riding. My favorite journeys involve peddling.

What is your favorite time of day?
I love the moment when I’m about to sit down to write. My older kids are at school during the day but I’ve got a 2-year-old at home. So when my little guy goes down for a nap around lunch time, I always feel like WHOOOOPEEEE! (I’m sure every mom-writer reading this will be nodding her head right now. “Yup. I hear ya.”)

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
I know I could pick a fictional person but I’m going to go with Charlotte Bronte. Because she is a literary heroine, for sure.

I wish I could go back and tell her how brave she was just to write. Just to do it at all. She could never have imagined how important her defiant little act of keeping a journal was.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I’d like to try a fresh loaf of Poilane bread in Paris, own a Vespa, and ride my bike on some the same roads they ride in the Tour de France (though NOT once of those big-ass ones in the Alps––I’m not that motivated). I’d also like to go back to Venice some day and bring my husband with me this time.

Seems to me I need to get over to Europe to do all that. Then I’ll ship my powder-blue Vespa back home at the end of my trip.

Who or what is your first love?
I … I’m not sure how to answer this! The first thing that popped into my head was walking. I’ve always walked to find peace. But I feel like I shoulda answered “My beloved husband and children!” Sorry, guys!

What’s the last dream you remember?
Hmmm. I dream about houses all the time. Building them, finding them, discovering things about them I never knew. Last night I dreamed that my husband and I were looking for a lot to build a house on and we were frustrated because all of them were already taken. Then we started dumping buckets of paint on people and said it was because of that Hindi holiday where they celebrate the start of spring by throwing colored powder at each other, thus* rationalizing our jerky behavior.

*SEE! I can’t even avoid THUS in a short questionnaire interview! :)

What’s your madeleine?
Cigarette smoke.

I know. Weird. But when I was a kid, my mom smoked. My aunts smoked. Everyone smoked.

Now very few people do, especially those who spend time around kids (which takes in most of the people I’m around normally). This is good because it truly is a bad habit but I tell you, when I smell cigarette smoke, I’m right back there, five years old again.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Compassion.