If it seems like the editorial FAM is growing, well, that's because it is! We are pleased as punch that Kendra Fortmeyer has come aboard as a Contributing Editor. Kendra's debut novel, Hole in the Middle, has been described as a "powerful, witty, and funny tale" by Publishers Weekly and an "empowering, timely feminist read" by Kirkus Reviews. It's available now from your favorite bookseller. Let's give Kendra the 19 Rounds welcome!
1. Early bird or night owl?
Early bird -- for better or worse, I have a lot of trouble sleeping past 8 a.m.
2. What was your worst haircut?
I got a surprise mullet when I studied abroad in Spain. I was very shy in college, and had always worn my hair very plain and long -- middle part, no bangs. I practiced the phrase “I want long layers” (capas largas) with my host mom and, secure in my Very Good Plan, timidly made my way to the salon. The stylist plunked me down in a chair and, over my diffident “capas largas?” seized my head and proclaimed, “I know just what to do. You will look fabulous!”
I stumbled from the salon looking like an extremely hip Spanish teen -- the heartbreaker being that in 2007, very hip teens in Spain were all wearing (I’m still not sure how this happened) shaggy, asymmetrical mullets. I was so broke that semester, but I spent precious minutes calling my mom overseas and bawling about how awful it was. Once I dried my tears and learned to love the mullet, I had a blast (and strangers started routinely mistaking me for a Spanish local, despite my whiteblondegirl situation). Maybe it’s time to bring it back….
3. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A confession: I am not a music person at all! I prefer audiobooks and podcasts any day. May I donate mine to someone else?
4. Can you roll your tongue?
5. Mayonnaise: yes or no?
Yes! But not heaps.
6. What is your least favorite word to come across when reading a book or story?
It drives me nuts when writers of contemporary fiction describe a character as having “kohl-rimmed eyes.” This is not ancient Egypt, darlings -- kohl has never been approved by the FDA as a cosmetic because the way it’s mined means it contains lead; your character is wearing eyeliner. This is a hill I am content to die on.
7. Which movie was better than the book?
8. What was your first concert?
My dad’s a musician, so I grew up in the milieu of music festivals and shows. The first I remember was a show in our local record shop by a band called Bus Stop, who likely didn’t expect a random five-year-old girl to be in the audience but gamely autographed a poster for me that I kept in my bedroom for over a decade.
(No relation, I think, to the band who covered “Kung Fu Fighting” in Dance Dance Revolution. Some other bus. Some other stop.)
9. It's Friday night. You're home alone. What did you order for dinner and what's on the TV?
YES THIS IS THE DREAM. I’ve certainly made myself dinner (if I’m feeling virtuous, there’s spinach involved) and have got three different novels strewn across the table, selection To Be Determined By Mood. I never used to read more than one book at a time, but I have so many friends writing great ones that it’s hard to keep up! Once I wear myself out, it’s Great British Baking Show & meditating before bed.
10. How do you take your coffee?
As tea, please. (Lady Grey or a nice keemun.)
11. What expression do you use that most people have never heard?
“Bugs!” and “boogers!”, both as expletives.
12. What movie have you seen the most times?
As an adult, I rarely rewatch movies; HOWEVER, I can say with confidence that I’ve seen The Little Mermaid no fewer than 14,397 times.
13. What is the best thing you cook or bake?
I’m an obsessive baker -- as a creative professional, it can be difficult to clearly separate work and pleasure, so I value baking as a sort of pure space where I can be creative and rigorously devoted to craft in a way that has nothing to do with my professional life. (Also, my mom’s a pastry chef, so baking has always been steeped in fond associations for me.) Most recently, I leveled up my bagel game using BraveTart’s method, and I am SO pleased. I’m working on loaf breads now, as well as the classic tarte au citron.
14. Finish this sentence: More people should be reading _______________.
Stories by women..
15. Favorite time-waster?
Waste time? But there are so many things to do!
16. What's the hardest thing about writing?
Making myself sit down to do it. 9 times out of 10, that is the worst and hardest part of the process -- the rest is me mentally kicking myself for not getting started sooner.
17. What's the best thing about writing?
I love when your words connect with someone else and set them afire. I admire writers who say they don’t think about audience or just write for themselves (because it seems so pure), but for me, it’s all about community and connection -- my view on writing has shifted as I’ve grown, and now I see it very much through the lens of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or healing the world. If I can take some observation or feeling and twist it into shape in a way that makes some stranger out in the world feel inspired or excited or less alone, that’s magic.
18. What is your favorite sentence from a short story or poem?
There’s a line from Rilke that neatly sums up all of my feelings about being a person in the world -- “And in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times, when something draws near, I want to be with those who know secret things, or else alone.”
19. What question were you hoping to be asked?
Yes: do I have a nemesis? The answer is, yes, I do have a nemesis: folk metal drummer and brilliant SFF/horror writer Jenn Grunigen. Lately, we spend too much time praising each other for being brilliant/beautiful/enviable, but I have no doubt we’ll go down in flames, hands locked around each other’s throats.