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Interview: Kim Antieau, Author of Her Frozen Wild

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Kim 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 Antieau and her work at the following links:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon Kindle |
Barnes & Noble | Smashwords |LibraryThing  Website

Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?

Years ago I read a National Geographic article about the discovery of a mummy in Siberia. They called her the “ice maiden.” She was tattooed, and she was buried with a conical hat and other accoutrements that made archaeologists believe she was a priestess or shaman. When I read the article, I got chills, and I knew then I would have to write about her. In my book, archaeologists uncover a frozen tattooed female mummy in the Altai in Siberia, too. But when they take a DNA sample and put it in the worldwide DNA database, they discover her DNA matches almost perfectly with Ursula Smith’s DNA, a Portland archaeologist who is peripherally involved in the project. Nobody can explain how this could have happened since Ursula is in Portland and has never been to Siberia, and the mummy is 2,500 years old.

Despite being terrified of flying, Ursula travels to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady.” She meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her 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.

How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?

The title came quite organically from the book. Since most of it takes place in the wilds of Siberia and the main character was feeling “frozen” in her own unhappy life until she travels to Siberia, Her Frozen Wild seemed like a perfect title. By the way, I have to have a title before I can start a novel. Most of the time I’ll come up with a good title fairly quickly, but if I can’t, then I can’t write the book. My husband Mario and I got to design the cover, which was a lot of fun. I always knew I wanted a white cover. I liked the starkness of it. I got on dreamstime.com and saw this photo by Tyler Olson of polar bear tracks; I knew that photo would be a perfect cover.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book? 

I do especially like when Ursula goes back in time and lives with the Scythians. Some scholars believe the Scythians were actually the models for the stories about Amazons. Once Ursula has lived with the Scythians for a time, she really comes into her own. When she first meets them, however, it’s a little hairy. Just before this scene, Ursula is in a cave in Siberia in the 18th century with Sergei, her lover from a couple of different periods in time. Although she doesn’t know it yet in this scene, she’s just gone back in time over 2,000 years.

Ursula hurried out of the cave and into chaos.

Was it day or night?

The air shook with — what?

Smoke. It was smoke choking out the day.

“Ahhhh!” Something raced by her so close she fell to the ground.

She could smell the black earth and the smoke.

She stood again. The smoke whirled clear for a moment and she saw — in a split second — a black horse charging toward her—about to run her down. A black horse with a red sash across its chest and gold as a faceplate. The horse stopped less than a foot from her — rearing and screaming. Ursula put up her hands to protect herself from flailing hooves.

The horse’s rider screamed something at her. Ursula could not understand her words at first; then the rider held out her hand and shouted, “Fool, get up or die!”

Ursula reached up.

She heard hooves. Suddenly someone had her around her waist and threw her up behind the rider.

“Hold on!” the woman shouted. Ursula put her arms around the woman’s waist, then glanced at the man who had helped her up. His horse reared. He was bearded — his chest covered in gold — and he was laughing. His eyes were the color of blue Siberian ice. Sergei.

The woman screamed a fearsome spine-chilling cry, and they raced out of the smoke into a bright blue day. On either side of them, horses thundered across a plain that seemed to go on forever on all sides. Behind them, the steppe burned.

What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?

I like announcing the publication of a novel on my blog and on Facebook! Those are the two easiest things to do.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I start mid-morning and write until lunch. After lunch, I write for a few more hours. When the weather is good, I’ll usually hike in the morning and then come back and work after lunch for a few hours.

What are some ways that you like to relax?

I like to hike. We live in the Pacific Northwest near the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, so I spend a lot of my time hiking there.

What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?

I wish more people knew my husband Mario Milosevic’s work. He writes all kinds of things, but his forte is writing short pieces. He wrote an entire book in 99 word chapters. He had a blog, Conditional Reality, for a few years with posts of 100 words each. He can say more with a few words than most people can say in thousands of words. A favorite poet of mine is Oregon poet David Johnson. He died a few years ago, and I miss his work.

What author would you most like to meet and why?

I would love to meet Mary Oliver. She’s such an extraordinary poet. We went to a reading she gave in Portland a few years ago, and I sent her a love note. I think it just said, “I love you.”

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?

I have a bunch of new projects. Some are complete and some are near completion. Butch: a bent Western will be out in a few months, along with Desert Siren. 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.

What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?

I’m not sure what would surprise people. I backpacked across Europe when I was 18. I love to travel, but I’m afraid of flying. For the most part, I have to believe something is at least vaguely possible before I can write about it. I live in a county where it is against the law to harm Bigfoot. And I regularly hug trees.

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