Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.
Just a week ago I was trying to describe A.S. King to a friend of mine, an adult science fiction and fantasy writer not familiar with her work but always eager to discover new authors. I tried to describe my own first encounter with her, reading The Dust of 100 Dogs after one of my best friends suggested it, but could tell I was completely failing to convey the utter originality, the compelling absurdity of the plot, the rare collision of joyful weirdness and kinship I experienced while reading. I scrabbled around, trying to compare Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Ask the Passengers to other comparable titles (yeah, right!); to explain how it was sort of magic realism, but sort of not; to somehow describe King’s uncompromising depictions of life, especially teen life, and how all my expectations would go sideways no matter which way I was expecting the story to turn, but how there was always hope. I told her about the ants, and about Gerald. And then I finally just said, you know how Vonnegut is just himself and no one else is really like him? A. S. King is like that. Go read everything she’s written and then come back so we can talk about it.
I kind of feel the same way about this particular interview, like I just want to get out of the way and let you have at it. I think you’ll see why right away.
But I do want to throw out a huge thank you to A.S. King for being patient and wildly understanding, for general awesomeness, and especially for giving us a little glimpse of the rest of the iceberg. Thank you.
Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
Confused and confident. A good athlete and talented smoker. A smart kid with D’s on her report card. An all-around walking contradiction. Mullet at times. Owned a boss Blondie t-shirt and wore Chucks with spikes screwed into the eyelets. Loved Prince.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young kid, I really thought I wanted to be a heart surgeon. I have no idea why, but I was obsessed with the circulatory system. At 14, I got a glimpse of wanting to be a writer after overdosing on Paul Zindel novels, but when I told adults in my life, the suggestion that journalism was my only path to being a writer pretty much killed the idea for me. (No offense meant to journalists. It just wasn’t my bag.)
As a teenager, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I was a peer helper at school, so I was really into psychology and counseling. I wanted to help fellow students work stuff out. But I ended up going to college to be a forest ranger at first. I left that college soon after realizing I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.
Then I went to art school, which again wasn’t quite what I wanted to do but it was close. I got my degree in photography about two years before digital photography came along and made me, a darkroom printer, pretty much obsolete, which was fine because I then moved 3000 miles away and started writing novels.
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