In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I should mention right up front that I was a member of the 2008 Michael L. Printz Award committee that selected Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamquake as an Honor Book. And while committee deliberations are always confidential, I think it’s okay for me to say that Dreamquake was one of my bleed on the table, do-or-die books that year, a book that, for me, came out of nowhere, a book I ended up loving So Much that my amazing committee let me keep the “official” copy with the shiny sticker on it.
When I started Dreamquake I was unfamiliar with its author, and I didn’t realize it was actually a sequel until I was almost done, so I was beyond thrilled to find not only an additional Southland tale, Dreamhunter, but a number of other (adult) titles to savor. Her third young adult novel, Mortal Fire, was published just last month to widespread critical acclaim and is absolutely one of my favorite books of the year. If you haven’t had the pleasure, read it immediately, and then check out the short story “A Visit to the House on Terminal Hill” and the various blog posts Elizabeth wrote to accompany publication. Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to talk with me, for your thoughtful answers, and for sending such excellent photographs to accompany this interview.
Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
I was small, flat-chested, fiery, forceful, and exacting. Depending on how I dressed I could pass as a 13-year-old boy or 20-year-old ballerina (which was useful for getting into R-rated films). I was a burdened teenager. I had to look after too many people.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I decided at 16 that I wanted to be a novelist. It wasn’t so much wanting to “be a writer” as to spend my life telling stories and walking around hand-in-hand with some narrative. Why I knew that’s what I wanted had more to do with the long and involved narrative game I played with my sisters and a friend than with any relationship I had with books. The game was a detailed, immersive, adventurous other life we had. I spent as much time as I possibly could being other people — people with more control over their very exciting lives.