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Interview with Kim Antieau, author of “Her Frozen Wild”


About Kim Antieau

Kim AntieauKim Antieau has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, both in print and online, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s SF, The Clinton Street Quarterly, The Journal of Mythic Arts, EarthFirst!, Alternet, Sage Woman, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She was the founder, editor, and publisher of Daughters of Nyx: A Magazine of Goddess Stories, Mythmaking, and Fairy Tales.Her work has twice been short-listed for the Tiptree Award, and has appeared in many Best of the Year anthologies. Critics have admired her “literary fearlessness” and her vivid language and imagination. She has had nine novels published. Her first novel, The Jigsaw Woman, is a modern classic of feminist literature. Kim lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, writer Mario Milosevic.

Her latest book is Her Frozen Wild.

Learn more about Kim and her writing at www.kimantieau.com.

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The Interview

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

In Her Frozen Wild American archaeologist Ursula Smith travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of why a recently discovered 2,500 year old “ice mummy” has her DNA. She meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who invites Ursula into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers Sergei has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. Ursula can’t imagine she is destined for anything, but she goes with Sergei and a shaman to one of the sacred timeless caves where her mother supposedly vanished thirty years earlier. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she has to unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

I got the idea for Her Frozen Wild after I read a National Geographic article about the discovery in Siberia of a frozen mummy they called “ice maiden.” She had tattoos on her body, and she’d been buried with a conical hat and other accoutrements that indicated to the archaeologists that she might have been some kind of priestess or shaman. I got goose bumps as I read it, and I knew I would write a book about her.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

It’s important to me that we protect the environment. I recently went back to school to get a graduate certificate in Sustainable Food Systems and Permaculture Systems, so that I could learn to be more effective in my community. Since then we’ve started a permaculture guild in our county. I’m working with people in my community to learn (and re-learn) the skills we’ll need to work more locally: building community gardens, gray water systems, solar and wind energy systems, etc.

In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?

I’ve learned how to be more energy efficient in our home. I’ve been surprised by some things that use a lot of energy. Any of the power adaptors continue to suck energy even when you’ve unplugged the appliance from them, like phone chargers, laptop cords, things like that. I’m trying to learn to be a better gardener. I like to eat the food I grow, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the garden. That’s why I love permaculture. The idea is that you might have to put in a little more time and work in the beginning, but then you’ve designed a garden that will keep growing on its own. I’m completely in love with plants and flowers. I’ve been learning more about how plants can help us heal and be healthy.

Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?

I almost always read what I’ve written to Mario when I’m finished, but that’s about all I do. I do have rituals before I begin writing, however. About a year ago, I dreamed I was somewhere people were drumming, rattling, and singing. I didn’t have a rattle, so someone there tossed one to me. When I woke up, I knew I had to make that rattle. So I went to a drum store in Portland and got some elk hide to use for the body of the rattle. For the handle, I got a part of a rosemary bush branch from my backyard. I tried all kinds of gems and rocks to make the rattling sound, but nothing sounded right until I put in corn and beans. In the dream, the rattle also had fur on it. A friend of mine gave me some rabbit fur and I wrapped that around the handle. (I thanked the elk, rosemary, and rabbit for their sacrifice.) Anyway, I took this rattle with me to Arizona this year where we go on our yearly writing retreat. Every morning before I started writing, I would face the four directions and rattle and sing and ask for help writing. This was a very grounding practice. It helped me center and know that I wasn’t alone in this process. I stood in the sand surrounded by cacti, mesquite, and paloverde trees, shaking this rattle and looking up at the blue sky. It felt quite profound. This winter, I wrote two and a half novels in six weeks. I don’t know how that’s even possible! But I wonder if my morning ceremonies might have had something to do with it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m finishing work on Whackadoodle Times and Pricked: A Jane Deere Novel. I wrote them while on retreat in Arizona this winter. Whackadoodle Times takes place during a week in the life of Hollywood screenwriter Brooke McMurphy, a week where everything seems to fall apart. I’ve never laughed as much or cried so hard as I did while writing this book. Pricked is about Jane Deere, who has been on the run for a couple of decades. The novel starts when she stops running for a time to start a new life in Tucson, Arizona. She begins to solve some of the mysteries in her own life as she helps the new people in her life solve some of their problems.

Do you have any advice for writers or readers?

My advice to writers is to write. I don’t know if I have advice for readers, but I would love it if readers would search out independent writers. As a writer and reader, I’m very excited about the independent writing movement. I love that I have control over my covers, I love that I can get more than one book published a year, and I love that it doesn’t take years to get a book published. I’m hoping the indie writing movement will reinvigorate literature and publishing. Buy indie!

What are some of your long term goals?

I’d like to buy a house and have land where I can have a huge garden, maybe a demonstration garden where I can teach permaculture and other sustainable living skills. I’d like to continue writing and making a living as a writer along with my husband. Mostly I want to be healthy and happy and living a good life with Mario.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?

Probably that I’ve kept writing all of these years! I’ve been writing stories since I could write, so that’s a lot of years. My novel The Jigsaw Woman has changed people’s lives, and I’m proud of that. In recent years, I’ve written some novels that I just really love. Church of the Old Mermaids has quite a fan following, and I’ve written several other books in the Old Mermaids universe. (Those include The Blue Tail, The Fish Wife, and The First Book of Old Mermaids Tales. Butch and The Desert Siren also refer to the Old Mermaids.) And I love Ruby’s Imagine. I think it’s such a beautiful story, and she’s a great character. I dedicated it to my best friend who died shortly before I wrote the novel, and I thought about her a great deal while I wrote the book.

What do you feel is your biggest strength?

I’m a good storyteller.

Biggest weakness?

I overcommit myself. I do a lot of volunteer work, I work for the library part-time, and I write full-time. It’s been a constant struggle over the course of my life not to work too much or too hard.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

I just feel like this book has everything! There’s adventure, a great love story, Amazon-like warriors, time-travel, tattoos, shape-shifters, archaeology, alchemy, and family secrets.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

It’s important thing is just to be. I’m still learning this lesson.

About Her Frozen Wild

Her Frozen WildScientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess or shaman. This mummy has the same mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers he has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother supposedly disappeared. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.


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