We have the pleasure of featuring “Montaku” in our anthology, Forging Freedom. The story appears in the section, Freedom Speculated: Fantasy, Whimsy, and Science Fiction.
I’m a creative soul with OCD, which makes for a very interesting combination. I always have to be doing something creative, whether it’s writing, painting, crocheting, singing, or crafting. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Stories and poetry mostly. I won a few poetry contests in my youth. In high school and college I thrived on writing 10+ page papers. I live in Southern California where I write a nerdy blog called hotnerdgirl.com in my spare time.
Tell us about your story in Forging Freedom.
I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction and I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from it over the years. I love stories about strong, independent women so it was only natural for the protagonist to be female. I also really identify with outsiders, people who are just beyond the bubble of what is considered “normal” (if there even is such a thing). So Maggie needed to be different and unique. Strong and vulnerable at the same time.
I come from a military background and can trace my family’s military pedigree back to several individuals who fought, and even died, in the Civil War. Andersonville, in particular, always held a deep fascination for me. I wrote a research paper on it, have read several books and even went to visit it with my Dad. I found out just a couple of years ago from my maternal grandfather that a member of our family was imprisoned and died there. I think we’re connected to the people in our pasts and they speak to us in mysterious ways. I think that Maggie is in the same situation with her ancestors. In some ways she’s trying to avenge them, in other ways she’s trying to honor them and be a stepping stone so that the Montaku who come after her will be better off than her generation is. It’s also a commentary on how history is a vicious cycle that, tragically, never stops repeating.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been a writer in some form my whole life but I don’t think I ever thought I could do it as a career. “Writer” seemed like one of those magical jobs like “actor” or “astronaut” that very few people can ever make a living at. I remember writing short stories very soon after I learned how to read and write. Even before that I was always making up stories in my head. We moved around a lot so I had to entertain myself and creating imaginary worlds was one of my great escapes. I have books full of teen angst poetry just waiting to be published posthumously. Some of it’s actually pretty good; it’s just too embarrassing to be published during my lifetime. I’ll probably eat those words someday.
What’s the strangest place you’ve ever been?
There’s a shield volcano on Maui called Haleakalā Crater. I spent a day walking all the way down it, then all the way back up. I barely made it back before the sun set. If it had set, I would have been stuck in complete darkness. The best way I can think to describe it is that it’s probably what Mars looks like. It’s red, orange, and brown as far as the eye can see. You’re walking in sand that is very fine powder in parts. My hiking boots will always have remnants of Haleakalā in them. I truly felt like I was experiencing a whole different planet. When I think of the Montaku homeworld, Haleakalā is what I picture.
What book or author has been most inspirational for you, and why?
I grew up reading Robert Service. He’s my Dad’s favorite poet and he had me memorize the beginning of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” when I was very small. He tests me every once in a while to make sure I still remember it. I’m 100% positive that I’ll remember it until the day I die. I did a couple of speech contests growing up. The 2nd time I performed “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and I won the whole thing. I love how Service tells stories that are both humorous and heartbreaking. The fact that he tells these amazing stories while rhyming leaves me awestruck every time. Every so often I meet someone who is just as passionate about Robert Service as I am and we have an instant connection. I once spent the better part of a wedding cocktail hour taking turns reciting his poetry with the father of the groom. Not many people my age know about Robert Service and that’s a shame.
If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?
Some kind of portable, solar-powered TV device stocked with every Star Trek episode and film. If I have that, I’m set.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
About 10 years ago I started writing a fantasy book that I’ve been working on in bits and pieces ever since. I go in waves where I’ll write 5 chapters in 3 days and then nothing for a year. It’s a planned trilogy. If I didn’t have to work a day job I probably would have finished it 8 years ago..Finally, where can we find you? (blogs, website, facebook, twitter, etc.)
I can be found at:
Forging Freedom was published September 17 on Constitution Day. The book features fiction and non-fiction stories from authors around the world.
Written by veterans, entrepreneurs, citizens, and writers from all walks of life, the book contains fictional tales of freedoms lost and won, essays on the current state of freedom throughout the world, and stories of freedoms imagined in a distant future or whimsical world.
“The contributors of Forging Freedom come from all walks of life, but are bound by their burning passion for liberty,” Michelle Malkin, author, blogger, and small business owner, “Read this book. Share these stories with your children. Keep the flame burning!”
Reason Magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward called the anthology, “A fun, fast, and fascinating read for anyone who loves liberty.”