It's Thursday, and that means another interview! Today I'd like to welcome Erica Hildebrand. Not only has she written some of my favorite stories, but she's also an excellent artist. Read on to find out more about her!
What are you working on right now?
I'm trying to revise this convoluted story about a family that gets visited (and subsequently badgered) by their immortal ancestor. Elsewhere, I'm working on a script for a graphic novel about werewolves and superheroes. And for the hat trick, I'm writing a new science fiction story. It's about space rabbits.
What's your pre-writing ritual?
I'm not sure I have one. Hydration, maybe? This answer used to be a resounding "coffee," but I'm off coffee right now.
What is one of the most surprising/interesting things you've discovered while doing research for a story?
I once wrote a story about a female gladiator in ancient Rome. Part of my research involved digging into the Roman calendar of festivals; I had mentioned the goddess Minerva, and I wanted to make sure I had the correct event so I knew what month to place the story in. It was a full day's research for maybe five words of prose.
The part that surprised me was just how many festivals, holidays, and celebrations they had in Rome. I knew they had a lot, but I didn't think it was that much. And it drilled the lesson into me that if I ever create a fictional society that is both religious and loves to party, I need to give them a full calendar of holidays.
Tell me about your favorite story that you've published. What inspired it, and what does it mean to you?
Oh man, tough to choose! I'd say the ones with protagonists worth rooting for are the ones that tend to stick with me. I have a story forthcoming from Kaleidotrope called "Jack Magic," which is an adventure fantasy born out of the old superstition that ship's cats are good omens to sailors. It's about a guy down on his luck who is just trying to make things right. I'm still rooting for him, and I hope readers will too.
You can have lunch with any writer, living or dead. Who would it be, and why?
Can it be a group date? I'd love to sit down with Rudyard Kipling and make him tell me anecdotes, and find out which adaptation of The Jungle Book is his favorite (mine is Chuck Jones'). But I'd also like Edna St. Vincent Millay to come too, because she enjoys a good time, and after lunch we could paint the town red.
What's one of the best novels and/or short stories you've read recently?
I just read "Wool - Part One" by Hugh Howey, an introduction to his science fiction series of the same name. The story begins with a character climbing an iron staircase. Before you know anything about the guy, you're getting only glimpses of the strange setting that serves as backdrop, very minimalist brush strokes. But it's pretty compelling! I see why this series has generated a lot of buzz.
Writing is a sedentary endeavor. What do you do to stay healthy and active?
I'm a fan of resistance training. It's a great alternative to cardio. I'd love to try lifting exercises sometime, and my basement is earmarked to become a home gym at some point. I'm also a fan of taking walks. As for staying healthy, I'd say switching to a more natural, plant-based diet is one of the best things I've done.
Erica Hildebrand works on illustrated projects in addition to her writing. She has a soft spot in her heart for superheroes, dinosaurs, and the conquerors of antiquity. A graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, her fiction has appeared in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and a half dozen other places. Her comics have appeared in Space Squid and Kaleidotrope. She lives with her wife in Pennsylvania, and her tweet handle is @Hildebabble. Come say hi.