Happy Wednesday Everybody!
It's time for me to get to finishing up (for now) the series of interviews I set out to do earlier- starting with this one, a lively and interesting Q&A session with Ishta Mercurio!
I'm already hepped up on coffee, grape Skittles (why, why do they not sell bags of individual flavors? Curse you, Skittles! Curse you and your delicious little purple pieces of heaven...) and Hostess Snack Cakes so let's get down to it.
FG: Greetings, Ishta! Pull up a chair and have some Skittles (anything but grape is left, sorry about that...) Let's get right to chatting.
You are not only passionate about writing but also musical theater (me too!) If you could have a starring role in a musical, which one would you choose and why?
IM: Well, I'll never ever ever get cast as a lead in a musical because when I try to sing, it makes people's ears bleed and angels weep in pain.
FG: Aww, it can't be that bad. Now me, if I tried to dance, I would likely stomp on the toes of every other performer present before careening offstage into the orchestra, creating an unintentional mosh pit and thusly making the angels laugh. Hey, at least it might have some comedic value...
What about a play then? What starring role would you want there?
IM: As for a play, I would LOVE to be cast as Lady MacBeth in "MacBeth" - she is so ambitious, and so conniving, yet she plays the role of the accommodating and supportive nobleman's wife perfectly. You know that saying, "behind every great man there is a great woman", and the derivative of that, which is that successful men are really just puppets and their wives are the puppeteers? Well, they were talking about her. I actually got to play her in a monologue that I did for a film acting class I took last year, and I would love the chance to expand upon what I did with her.
FG: Very cool. You (unlike me, see above) are a dancer- you're multi-talented! What's your background?
IM: My mom studied dance, and performed with the Cincinnati Ballet Company for a few years before and shortly after I was born. She then switched to contemporary dance, and performed with a company throughout almost the rest of my childhood. So, I guess it's kind of in my blood. I never had a chance to take any formal classes as a child for financial reasons, but once I went to college I was thrilled to discover that I could double-major, so I studied dance and theater. It was a liberal arts college, not an arts school, but I feel that I got a really good grounding in modern dance, with a lot of body work, anatomy studies, and practice, practice, practice! I also spent a year studying the Alexander Technique, which was great for learning how to really give myself to the movement. No ballet, though! (Sorry, Mom!) Since then, I've also explored hip-hop (FUN!) and hope to do more with that, and I'm very interested in learning tap.
FG: Congratulations on getting a story published in KNOW magazine- exciting stuff! Please tell us a little about the story.
IM: "Desert Treasure" is a rhyming story about some kids who go walking in the desert (with their uncle, don't worry!) and find something that looks like a sandy tube of glass, and they try to figure out what it is. Their ideas become more and more crazy and fantastical, until their uncle finally breaks down and tells them what it is. I wanted to keep it lighthearted, but still have a scientific tie-in, and I was thrilled when KNOW accepted it for publication. I was so excited, in fact, that all my housekeeping plans for the rest of the day went right out the window and I spent the rest of my day wandering around in my own personal mental fog! It was wonderful, but dinner was served pretty late. For my kids' sake, I hope I don't get quite so distracted the next time.
FG: Oh I am so glad you told me not to worry because I do so worry about kids ever wandering off without adult supervision even in fiction (sadly that is true.) What about other writing projects you'd like to pitch? Here's your chance! Tell us about your work!
IM: Oh, wow - what am I not writing? I write mostly picture books - that is to say, I have more picture book manuscripts out there than anything else. One, "Penelope's Hairy Predicament", is about a girl who is infatuated with the fact that everyone else is infatuated with her appearance, and how she overcomes that and finds a way to let her personality shine through. That one is sitting on a couple of desks, and is about to go out to a couple more. I've also got another one out on submission, "Small World", that is about a child's progression in understanding the world and the universe and how we fit into it all. Those are my two favorites.
I'm feverishly writing a YA about Demons and Guardian Angels and star-crossed love, which is a kind of Twilight/High School Musical crossover (but without the vampires and werewolves). That one is fun, because I've had to do a lot of research for it. The acknowledgements page will be monstrous for that one.
And there are a couple of others that I've written a chapter or two for, but I had to prioritize and just focus on finishing one thing for a change. That's the hardest thing for me - staying with one thing, while the ideas for the others keep on coming. Arrgh!
FG: Arrgh!? Makes me think a pirate story might be next as it seems just about the only thing you're not already tackling at the moment! Schnikes, you are busy.
I had better let you get back to all that writing and dancing and acting (oh yeah, and that thing they call 'motherhood' though I have heard that's not really time consuming at all *snort*) just answer the one last standard question for me before you go, please?
If you had to be stuck in an elevator for an hour with anyone who has ever lived, who would you want it to be and why?
IM: This is not a fair question! Do you know how many people there are out there in the world? And how many people there aren't any more? And I have to just pick one? Impossible!
If I really had to pick just one, it would be someone like Bonnie Prince Charlie (who led the rebellion against the English to try to kick the English monarchy out of Scotland back in 1745). I'd love to pick his brains, see if he would have made a different decision if he had known how things would turn out, find out how he felt while all of that was going on, find out if he had an inkling that he was going to lose. Plus, I've always had a thing for the Underdogs of the world. Plus, I have Scottish ancestors. (Hey... Lady MacBeth was Scottish, too! Hmmm... I sense a subconscious theme here...)
FG: Wow, that is a really cool answer. I'm all crazy about that Celtic type stuff- I have paternal roots in Scotland too though Ireland (shh, don't tell my ancestors) seems to really speak to me...of course it seems like trying to choose between ice cream and chocolate (or in my case grape Skittles and Ding Dongs) should you really ever even have to pick a favorite?
I think not.
Anyway, love that answer- and I wonder what the Bonnie Prince would think of the elevator!
That's all for today, folks, thank you for spending some time with us.
Look for one more interview in the series (hopefully to run Friday if the Force is with me) before I take a break from them for a bit to recharge and do some other writing...don't miss it, it's going to be great!
Thanks again to Ishta for taking the time to visit, you all can check out what Ishta is up to in her creative pursuits by clicking over to her blog here.
One more thing- thinking about Ishta's multiple talents got me wondering- any of you hiding any secret acting/musical/dancing talents in addition to writing?
Do you bake wicked cookies, paint a perfect sunset or, say, out-Scrabble the best of them? I want to know!