Meet The Author: Mary Capps

4

June 29, 2011 by heartonsleevereview

“You see, I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence. That’s been the main reason for our policy of hiring wild animals as librarians.” – Monty Python’s Flying Circus

This is the line Mary Capps holds as gospel, as Monty Python is as close to God as we will ever get. Please welcome Mary to “Meet The Author,” and revel in this interview.

HeartOnSleeve Review: Mary, Mary, why you buggin’? Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. Hi, and thanks for participating in allowing our readers, which is probably just our moms, to get a glimpse into the Mind of Mary. First question because I for some reason just read Rudyard Kipling’s article under the same title, please explain what the phrase “the female of the species is more deadly than the male” means to you.
 
Mary Capps: We can hide guns in our ladybits.  That, and the last time I had sex with my ex, I bit his head off.
 
HOSR: Oh, my. Okay then…uh, I guess this next question is fitting…if you were to commit a murder, how would you do it?
 
MC: Easy.  Although I live in Texas, I’m anti-gun.  However, for decades, I have kept an Estwing geologist’s pick with a stacked leather handle next to my side of the bed. So my murder of choice would be to run screaming at a potential intruder, rock pick ablazing, and plant it up to its hilt in said intruder’s chest.
 
God that felt good.

HOSR: Note to self: hide my geologist’s pick. Moving quickly on…you are a recent college grad. Any advice to the kids out there?
 
MC: Don’t take 14 years to get your Bachelor’s degree, don’t take 4 1/2 years to get your Master’s degree and don’t wait 13 years between the end of one and the beginning of the other, or you’ll be old and grumpy and in the middle of the worst recession in memory while trying to get a job you’ve wanted for two decades.

HOSR: I can relate to that. I started college right out of high school, hated it, then took five years off to persue a lucrative career in food service and retail, had a “what. the. fuck?” decided to return to school, where I am now responsible for peoples lives. Chilling. Having said that, you may very well be the smartest person I know. Is there anything you don’t know?
 
MC: Well, thank you.  But my Mum always told me (and the rest of my smartass siblings) “Don’t forget – there’s always someone smarter than you are.”  So that’s why at the ripe old age of {mumblemumble}, I’m heading out on the great adventure to be a credentialed Information Goddess, which means if I don’t know something, I know where to find it out.
 
HOSR: Did you always want to be a librarian “when you grew up”?
 
MC: Information Goddess, thankyouverymuch.  But I first wanted to be a stewardess, but only so I could get my parents cheap or free airfare.  Then I wanted to be an archeologist or a geologist (I like their tools). Then I wanted to be an actress, but I knew I wasn’t pretty enough (even though, per my drama teacher, I could project very well and was profoundly didactic). I finally realized this was what I wanted to do when, as a dyed-in-the-wool sociopath, I realized I actually *liked* helping people.  Go figure.

HOSR: Aren’t stewardesses called flight attendents now? Way to be PC, Mary. And I can picture you, in Indiana Jones-esque garb, digging away at ancient ruins. And you said “like their tools.” As for the acting, I imagine you being in every single Woody Allen film ever, taking the place of Mia Farrow…or Woody Allen himself. His nasal voice annoys me. I digress. Okay, Information Goddess, where do you like to write?
 
MC: Strangely (or not), it seems I have more inspiration sitting in my soon-to-be-ex office, usually when I should be doing what I get paid to do.  I get home in front of my own droid and it becomes work.
 
HOSR: I completely empathize with that statement. When I’m working, I’d rather be writing, but once home when I am able to write freely, I find ways to distract myself. Annoying, isn’t it? But I’m hesitant to ask this next question now, as surely, you’d be fired…or given a huge raise– do you ever write nekkid, and is your body really a wonderland, as John Mayer suggests it is?
 
MC: Who is John Mayer?  But seriously, I think the only person whose body is a wonderland is Alice.  So go ask her. (Did you see what I did there?)  I bathe and drink single malt nekkid.  Writing?  Not so much.
 
HOSR: No. I didn’t see what you did there, because I am blind to bad jokes. Zing!!! And while bodies are beautiful things, but seeing a buck nekkid one in the break room, pouring coffee might not be the best idea. Also: dangerous. Coffee is HOT, especially on lady bits….wait, what? Uh…diversion! What author don’t you like? And what’s the least favorite book you’ve ever read?
 
MC: That’s a toss up between Faulkner and Hemingway (although Faulkner get a bye for “A Rose for Emily” and Hemingway gets the Brevity Award), two extremes in writing style but both with unwarranted egos.  But the least favourite book I’ve ever read has to be “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy.  I’m not especially sensitive to violence (I freakin’ ADORE Harlan Ellison), but “Blood Meridian” drilled my brain like an apple corer, and then scraped partially healed scabs away, then drilled again, then scraped again, shampoo, rinse, and repeat. And it was my newlywed husband who recommended that rusty knife of a read to me.  And still I love him.

HOSR: If this interview had been conducted in person, and not via internets, I would have gotten up and given you a hug for the Hemingway comment. Coughcoughhackjobcoughcough. Goodness gracious! I had a bullshit writer stuck in my throat! Uh…that didn’t come out right…and I’m glad you are still married to the man who tortured you with such a novel, but if you think about it, marriage is a form of torture to begin with, so there you go. Hey, here’s a fun question for the kids: if you could travel back in time, what year would you revisit, and what would you do?
 
MC: Christmas, 1183 CE, to be a fly on the wall in Chinon, Anjou, to watch the (in all likelihood fictional) trainwreck of the holidays with Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their three sons, the soon-to-be Richard Lionheart, the cunning but overlooked Geoffrey of Anjou, and the baby of the family, John.  It likely wasn’t nearly as clever as the script for “The Lion in Winter”, but it was probably just as wicked. 
 
HOSR: By the way, to those of you who don’t know, “CE” stands for “common era,” which is the same thing as saying “AD,” or “anno domini,” which is um, Swedish I think, for “year of Our Lord.” See? This interview is informing AND educational and stuff! By golly, Mary, some of your immense wisdoms are oozing out and getting all over me! Gross! Aaannnddd back to our regularly scheduled interview, already in progress: how do you come up with your topics to write about, aka, where do you draw your inspiration?
 
MC: Two sources, no three sources:
 
1) Titles – I like to think of a title (or someone else suggests it) and then see where it takes me.  Sometimes it works (“Horny”), sometimes it doesn’t (everything else I’ve ever written). 
2) Backstory – I cannot tell you how often I read someone else’s work and start filling in backstory.  But I can’t really move forward on these, because it’s clearly not fair to the writer whose story initially inspired me.
3) My life – If you’ve read my tiny incendiary bit of “What I Wanted” flash fiction on Fictionaut, you’ll get an intense sense of some of the sadness and horrors I experienced, all by age 13 – and it get’s worse (and occasionally better) after that but, much like the constraints I feel with item #2, I have to watch that line between fiction and not-fiction.  Thus, I usually err on the side of not writing at all.
 
HOSR: I do all three myself. With the title thing, I either come up with a title, or a phrase that I build my story around, but I liken that to buying the shoes before the dress. “Horny” holds a special place in my cold, black heart–not only was the an excellent exercise for the writing chops, but I love how you, Lynn, and with much prodding, your husband Mark, wrote our own versions of the story. Ah…good times, indeed. As for backstory, I think that’s also good, and quite honestly, I’d be flattered if you filled in the missing bits of anything I write. It helps you understand the character better, and a new point-of-view to the story. And honey, with the exception of a few of my stories, my writing IS my life. Every weird word of it. But shame on you for erring the side of caution. Like I said earlier, my stories are my life, but with a few embelishments thrown in to keep you all from thinking I’m a lost cause. I prefer to call my style “fiction-y non-fiction.” Yes, that is a copyrighted phrase. No it isn’t. Mary, if the 20-year-old you could see you today, would she be impressed with what she saw?
 
MC: Probably not physically (although I’d like to think I’d be smart enough to be a little more proactive about that sort of thing – even though I hate the word proactive), but I think she’d be pretty please about the library degree, because at 20, I was completely distraught about how I could resolve who I was with what I wanted to do for a living.
 
HORS: There are two words/phrases in the English language I loathe to use, and the first is “proactive,” the second is “it is what it is.” Proactive seems redundant to me, and the phrase just bugs the shit out of me. I again, I’m getting off topic here, which is ironic, considering we’ve been talking about everything from how horrible Ernest Hemingway is to being nekkid. Having said that, Mary, how do I get “ring-around-the-collar” out of my white clothes?
 
MC: Ask Billy Mays. Oh wait, he’s dead.  Um, okay – don’t wear white.
 
HOSR: Wasn’t he a baseball player? Oh, wait, that’s Willie Mays. My bad. Hey, look! A question! If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
 
MC: “I’d Make a Good Gordon, Gordon”
 
HOSR: I want to write a book about a urologist and title it “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” Get it? Urologist? Kidneys? Kidneys produce urine? You’d go to the urologist if you peed a lot? And they would ask you how often you’re peeing?….anything? Geez. Anyway, since I’m clearly not meant to be a comedian (sorry, Dad), how about this philosophical slap in the face? Do you think we as humans really know what we’re doing? What if everything we thought was right is wrong?
 
MC: No. It isn’t?
 
HOSR: Touche. Pop quiz, hot shot: name as many former presidents as you can.
 
MC: Okay: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Quincy Adams, Jackson, Bush I, Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson I, Johnson II, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, FDR, Hoover, Wilson, Roosevelt, Hayes, Fillmore, Harrison, Lincoln, Grant, Polk,  Van Buren, Tyler, Taylor, Pierce, Cleveland, Taft, Harding.
 
I know I missed some, but that was without cheating and under the influence of a fine libation (yes, all libarians enjoy libations).
 
HOSR: Taft made me giggle, because I’m immature and thought of  “Shaft.” “Who’s the President of the US and a sex machine with all the chicks? SHAFT! Damn right, talkin’ ’bout Shaft.” Mary? Can I have a glass of water? And after that, can I ask when did you fancy yourself a writer?
 
MC: I didn’t and I don’t.  I’m a fraud and, to be perfectly honest, I almost declined this interview because I feel so badly about my piss-poor participation.  But I think you’re an angel and I’ve rather enjoyed your questions.
 
HOSR: WHAT?! You DID?! Oh, sweet, dear, wonderful Mary. You think I consider myself a writer? Uh…how about a big, fat, honkin’ NO on that one. I piddle. Dabble. Occasionally I write something people like, which hey, that’s neat, but on the whole, I myself do not consider myself a writer. I prefer the term “wordmonkey.” And as for your quote/unquote piss-poor participation–try saying THAT five times fast–I cheat. I post stuff that’s already been written, kid! So please, stop being silly. But thank you for enjoying the interview. As for thinking I’m an angel, your bribe money is in the mail. Unmarked bills, as you requestion. I mean….uh…er….what? Another diversion! Finish this song lyric: Just like the white-winged dove…
 
MC: Sings a song, sounds like she’s singin’
Ooh.  Ooh.  Ooh.
 
Or
 
I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens…
 
Don’t mess with the old fuck, girlies!
 
HOSR: Duly noted, potty mouth. Shit. Here’s a fun question–if you lost the ability to see, would you still find the means to write?
 
MC: Absolutely.  I see more in my mind than I ever have through my eyes.  But I would have to give up the wireless keyboard, because even with new damned batteries, it goes madbrain *all* the freakin’ time.
 
HOSR: Well, I hope you never lose your eyesight, but I find respite in the fact you will still carry on. I’m curious: do you remember the first piece you ever wrote?
 
MC: My first piece of fiction was, in fact, “Horny”, written earlier this year (I am *not* counting the schoolwork assigned by my 10th grade teacher who seemed pretty numbed out on Valium).
 
HOSR: Really? That’s surprising to me. Being who you are, I’d figure you to have oodles of old notebooks full of stories. Huh. Well, as I mentioned before, I love “Horny,” and I’m so happy you took a swing at it, because in my humble opinion, you knocked that shit outta the ballpark. I remember my first story, and I think I mentioned this when I interviewed one of the other gals. It was about a hippo…and something about it was afraid to drown… I still have it, because that story earned me a freaking sticker! So, technically, I can proclaim my writing has been praised since I was six. So, now that you’re a seasoned veteran to writing now, what type of prose do you prefer to write?
 
MC: The first time I truly recall enjoying writing either fiction or non-fiction was about 15 years ago (mind you, my Bachelor’s degree is in Engish, but writing has always been WORK for me).  My ex and I had season tickets to the local minor league hockey team and I, as an ex-pat Bostonian, finally felt the painful void of hockey for the decades since leaving Boston as a wee child recede.  I worked for a pretty small company and was quite enthused about getting my coworkers (in San Antonio, Texas, mind you) as excited about hockey as I was so, after every game, I would recount the game, the libations, the hooting and the hollering in an email and send it to many of my fellow workers.  I could hear the chuckles from my readers every morning after sending out my review.  I never actually gained any hockey converts but only two or three people ever asked me to stop sending them my recaps and the best compliment I ever got was from my then boss (who, although a Chicago native, hated hockey) who said “Mary, I really don’t care about hockey, but I love reading your emails”.
 
So, in answer to your question: emails.
 
HOSR: Okay, this interview is starting to freak me out a bit. So, true story: before I started my own personal blog back in Aught Six, I would send my friends these ridiculous emails about anything. Work, life in general, funny stories (or funny to me, at least) that I thought everyone would get a kick out of. I think finally after so many emails, which most people enjoyed, much like you, someone finally suggested I get a blog and write this stuff there, and to quit muckin’ up their email inboxes. I think someone tagged me as spam. Rude. So, aside from crafting riveting emails, what is your writing process?
 
MC: It varies.  Sometimes it’s these tiny spurts of ideas, or a sentence I really like.  I’ll put them in a document and come back and fill in the gaps.  Other times it’s like a massive brain dump (the mental equivalent of a Ten Pound Turd), and I’ll come back later to edit and fine tune it.  But my favourite is when someone (and she knows who she is) says “You should write about that”.  I haven’t always moved on those suggestions, but they are always bouncing around in my head and, if I ever can stop completely fretting about the lack of employment on my horizon, I will return to the writing muse.  And kiss her full on the mouth.  And slip her the tongue.

HOSR:….ahem. Well. On that note, Mary, we are finished here. Again, I thank you so much, first for agreeing to be a writer here on HeartOnSleeve Review, and second for putting on your big girl pants, sucking it up and doing the interview. I kid, of course, but not really. 

And there you have it, folks. Mary Capps: The Hesitant Writer. I think you’ll agree with me she should shut the hell up and write more, but hey, what do I know?

Mary lives in the biggest freakin’ state of the union with her heterosexual lifemate and some cats. She seriously is  the smartest woman I know, having recently graduated with like, a Masters of the Universe degree, I think. All I know is that she got to wear a cape at her graduation, so that must mean something pretty damn important. You can read her writing here, and at http://www.fictionaut.com/users/mary-alston-capps.

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4 thoughts on “Meet The Author: Mary Capps

  1. ferness42 says:

    Ahem. The *second* biggest freakin’ state in the union. Did you really think a Miss Smarty Pants would let that slide?

  2. Nice interview you two crazy kids.

  3. Harley May says:

    This is great.

    I especially enjoyed the question “Would twenty-year-old you be impressed with the current you?”

    It really was informative. I learned at least five things.

    Thank you, ladies.

  4. lynnbeighley says:

    Best possible start to my day was reading this.

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