Archive for the Interviews Category

Science, Sirens, and Feeding the Tree with Caitlin R. Kiernan

Posted in Interviews with tags , , , on September 7, 2009 by wpdoesntletyoudelete
Photo by Kathryn Pollnac

Photo by Kathryn Pollnac

As a special treat to our online audience, I’m posting a sneak-preview of one of our interviews from the upcoming Libra/Scorpio issue with author Caitlin R. Kierenan. Kiernan’s new book, The Red Tree, is now available on Amazon and major bookstores!

You can read the entire interview with Kiernan — which covered topics as diverse as self-publishing, H.P. Lovecraft, and paleontology — in Constellation’s Libra/Scorpio issue which is released into the wild on September 24th!


I’m not going to even try to fake a cool nonchalance: Caitlin R. Kiernan is one of my favorite authors. I started out reading her blog, then reading some of her short stories, then a novel or two, and then her self-published monthly magazine Siriena Digest. What is it about Kiernan that inspires such devotion? For one thing, Kiernan never shies away from the taboo, the explicit, or the scientifically precise, but she clearly doesn’t seek those topics out for their own sake. Her stories are living things, never innocuous, and complex even in brevity. Petty concepts like time and space are her nightmarish playthings. I could wax on, but the point is that I was thrilled to interview Ms. Kiernan on the eve of the release of her eighth novel: The Red Tree.

AKC: You’ve expressed that long-time readers may find your new novel, The Red Tree, to be very different from your previous books. Your body of work is very diverse and label-defying, so I ask: what strange new world have you unleashed upon us?

CRK: I’d say that what readers of my work, especially those who’ve stuck mostly to the novels, will find most immediately different is that The Red Tree is my first novel-length first-person narrative. This might seem like a small thing, but I think it’s really quite profound. It lends this particular story a sort of immediacy and intimacy that is absolutely necessary for it to be effective. But, yeah, there are other differences. I think it’s a more mature novel, in many ways. For one, I’m writing about women in their thirties and forties, not people in their teens and twenties. Shortly before I began work on this book, I began to feel I’d reached a point in my career where it was essential that I reinvent myself as a novelist, and I think The Red Tree goes a long way towards doing that. It’s at least the beginning of the process. Also, writing this novel, I had the opportunity to write a book within a book, in that the protagonist discovers an unfinished manuscript, and then her own story grows around it, which was a fascinating way to work.

AKC: You mention music that you enjoy on your blog, and you even sang in a band briefly in the late 90’s, so I wonder if you ever listen to music when you write? If so, are there specific bands or singers that you particularly enjoy?

CRK: From the very beginning, I’ve been unable to write without music. These days, I’d be lost without iTunes and my iPod. Early on, I discovered that I could use music to aid my writing, not only by shutting out external distractions, but by setting mood. So, I can’t just listen to any given song while I’m writing any given story or novel. It has to be music that works for that piece. Sometimes it’s easy to find the write songs, and sometimes it isn’t. A song that might have worked wonderfully while working on The Red Tree, for example, may prove worse than useless for the latest short story. But, as for favorites, these days I find myself most fond of The Decemberists, Radiohead, Sigur Rós, Placebo, VNV Nation, The Dresden Dolls, The Editors, older R.E.M. These are the bands I’ll most likely be listening to while writing. Though sometimes only a particular Johnny Cash song will do, or something by Roy Orbison, or Sarah McLachlan.


You can read the entire interview with Caitlin R. Kiernan exclusively in our Libra/Scorpio issue on September 24th!

Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Network




The Red Tree is now available on

For news on Kiernan’s upcoming releases, including The Ammonite Violin and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, check her blog or Twitter feed.

If you’re over the age of 18, you can sign up for Siriena Digest here: