I’m here with Ziporah Hildebrandt, my fellow Writers of the Future writer-winner from Shutesbury, Massachusetts. She very graciously volunteered to answer the following questions:
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
I grew up outside Philadelphia, hated school, am still traumatized by my family experience, and thank God every day I was raised an atheist. I went to college in Amherst, MA, spent some time in various other places, and have lived in western Mass for quite a while. I mostly was educated in the experiential mode, learning by doing. I enjoyed most things that involved something artistic, creative, or imaginative. I was kind of like a bumper car on most traditional subjects, I’d bump into history, math, science and so forth and veer off, repelled not by the subjects but by the boring way they were presented. A shame really, I love learning about nature and the universe, and I read Quantum Physics for Dummies and it pretty much made sense to me, but oh my God the bulgy eyed guy in the windowless room on about the ideal gas law took all the joy out.
What kinds of stories do you write? Why?
I write the stories that grab me and start a fire, because I have to. I mean, there’s a fire! I can’t just ignore it.
What authors have had the greatest influence on your writing? Why?
Ursula LeGuin for her interweaving of layered metaphors with explorations of relevant topics like identity, worldview, self expression, freedom and gender. Samuel Delaney for presenting those topics in very different ways and the sheer beauty of his writing. Dickens for amazing storytelling. Anne McCaffrey for the intensity of voice her characters often have. Jane Austen for the timelessness of her characters journeys. And the poet I wrote my college thesis on, Gerard Manley Hopkins, for crazy wild writing about nature and the innate glory of being.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Crazy is kind of in the eye of the beholder. Usually we do things that may look crazy to others but they make sense to us, or they are something that just has to be done, the universe that moment demands it. I used to work at a kids summer camp that had very small lake, held in by a dam. Every few years, it would silt up and need to be drained and dredged so it was still useful for canoe practice and all that. The tail end of my last summer there, it was drained. Some of us took mudbaths, which kind of freaked out some other people. You’d pay a lot for that in a spa, but it’s the context that counts.
Tell us something about you that very few people know.
I used to play the cello and the French horn, and learned to read music before I learned to spell my name.
Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
What is your favorite speculative fiction genre? Why?
This is a tough question, because I am so picky. I can read and enjoy most genres, but my favorites are novels that bring me into another fully realized reality that is more interesting or magical or beautiful or mystical or just weird than ours, whether another planet, a far future, cyberspace, alien mindscape, or Tolkienesque. I really enjoy getting into a very different reality.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The shire of New Zealand. Hawaii would be pretty awesome too.
What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
Music and art, because they made the rest of it temporarily tolerable. One of the greatest things there is, is to be making music in the midst of other people making music.
Which of your fellow writer-winner stories do you like the most? Why?
I like them all. If I had to pick some personal high points, I do like the glass bears, and the lonely moonscape, and the immortal aliens, and the intensity of three cold country sisters, and the tender emotions of cyborgs.
CLOWNS! No seriously, CLOWNS! Because, CLOWNS!
Are they dressed like bananas?
Complete the following sentence: In my cold country…
...we turn the mountains of snow into dragons, then we curl up in the nests of their bellies and dream ice poems all the winter long.
If were a D&D character, what would your class be (e.g., fighter, magic user, barbarian, etc.)? Why?
I love being a Druid best because nature is varied, beautiful, fun and powerful. And I like being any kind of animal.
What is your most eccentric habit?
Being myself. It is one of the most radical things possible, to just be yourself. So against the rules. Breaks all the structures. Twirling in hotel lobbies. Running down hallways. Breaking into song. Calling owls. Howling at the moon. Wearing a unicorn headband to class. Talking to trees and flowers. Rolling in leaf piles. Practicing telepathy with spiders and insects. Climbing trees. Doing t’ai Chi on rooftops, ship decks, fire escapes. Barking at dusk with all the dogs in the neighborhood. Writing novels set on other planets. Touching another person in public. Crazy eccentric stuff. I invite you to join me.
To read Ziporah’s story, “The Long Dizzy Down”, please buy your copy today of Writers of the Future: Volume 33. If you already have a copy and have read it, please take a few moments to click this link and place your review: http://amzn.to/2kNE5eh If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, then still click this link, get your book, read it, and review it!