Car here. This is a series of interviews I’m doing for my author, Rebekah Webb, for the participants of the Wicked Women Writers challenge. (http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/wicked-women-writers-challenge/) Since I only interview inanimate objects, I have used the power of booze and lack of sleep to transform my interviewees into various assorted objects.
Hello, today I am going to interview a very talented fishhook, named Amy K. Marshall. When she isn’t dangling from lines, luring fish with tasty morsels dangling from her head, she’s the Library Director of Craig, Alaska and author of dark fiction novels such as The Fishing Widow and In Dark Places (http://www.akmarshall.com.) She’s currently involved in the Wicked Women Writers competition, with her entry titled Paternoster, which a type of elevator and not a British father who eats too much, as I first thought when I misread it as Pater Nosher.
What made you start writing? As a fish hook, I bet your parents expected
you to go into the family business.
I’ve always been a rebel. I mean, yeah, I’ve got friends and family in the
“family business,” but I never really had the stomach for it. Days on a
boat, someone jabbing herring up your … well … you get the idea. And then
hours in the water waiting for .. what? Some freakishly huge floppy cold
thing to eat you? A life spent poking fish just wasn’t what I wanted. So I
slipped off the line, well, gangion. My cousin thought I was nuts–was
sure I’d get caught and they’d make an example out of me, or worse. But I
caught on a greenhorn’s raingear and he didn’t notice. Took awhile, but I
ended up in a drawer in the galley and then up in the wheelhouse. Hell,
I’m sure everyone looked at me at least once and thought, “Sheesh, I need
to get that back in the gear box,” but it never happened. So, I hung out
in the wheelhouse and listened… Then I thought, well, this is too good to
NOT figure out how to write down. So, it was trying to figure out how to
write it down…
How does a fish hook write? Do you dip your hook into a bucket of ink or
poke at a keyboard? Or is there another way to be able to put words to
Well … that takes sacrifice. Of course, not on MY part, but on the crew’s
part. I had to lay in wait and hope I didn’t forget what I wanted to
write. I’d slide inside a drawer or under a piece of paper or coffee mug…
and when one of the crew would slide a hand or something by, then WHAM!
I’d hear “SOM’BITCH!” or something like that, and they’d be hoppin’ around
like a lunatic. Of course, they’d bleed. That’s my ink. I’d have to work
fast and get it all down.
Have you ever accidentally picked up a boot and how does that affect your
confidence as a fish hook?
Yeah, well, that CAN be a confidence-buster. There’s so much stuff in the
ocean to snag on, it would blow your mind, you know? Boots, bottles,
plastic crap, other fishing gear that’s been lost at sea–you know if
takes 450 YEARS for fishing line to go away if it’s been lost at
sea??–sometimes it’s a wonder when you can hook a fish! We try to joke
about it when stuff like that happens–like, Hey! Mike! Nice six-pack! Ha
ha ha!! Ah…gets me every time… Then, of course, we can blame the skipper
for setting gear in a crap spot. That can make us feel better, too.
Tell us about your inspiration for Paternoster. Did it involve staring
into the sun until the afterimages turned into an interesting story? That’s
how I come up with interview questions.
You mean .. the result of reflection or somethin’? Get it? I’m metal, I’m
reflective and … well … never mind. One of the crew was talkin’ about how
there were no elevators on the island we were putting in to and how that
was so backwards–not at all like some of the larger places we go. Pater
Noster is also an “Our Father,” thing. My cousin Millicent is on a crabber
with a priest who fishes (don’t laugh, it happens). Then again, life as a
fish hook has its ups and downs, you know? We’re on a 4-hour delay
elevator. They toss us over and we sink DOWN and 4 hours later, pull the
line and haul us UP. Not much of a stretch to go from that to an elevator.
I guess I don’t see the appeal for humans…
What made you turn to dark fiction? I always imagined fish hooks being
more down home, preferring to hang around in a quiet pond. If they wrote, I
always figured it would be travel brochures or farmer’s almanacs.
You can’t believe what’s down there in the deepest deeps. Strange-ass fish
(I can say “strange-ass,” right?) and you’re helpless, just lyin’ there
and waiting. And THEN, on the way up, the stuff you’ve gotta dodge and
pray doesn’t take you out… ! Seals and killer whales and LARGER whales all
goin’ after the line. I mean, one bite and you’re OUTTA here and lost and
gone … forever. No family, no friends. I can tell you the screams we hear
on the line when that happens–that God-awful jerk and then someone you
know is whirling off into the unknown. Man .. you’ll never see ‘em again.
That’s being helpless. And you just grab on with the hook and pray you’re
not next… It’s experiences like THAT that make dark fiction writing easy.
All that writing from experience, I guess.
Is it true that fish hooks have a certain allure that slowly reels people
in and then hooks them with sharp witted lines?
Cheeky. Yeah, well, I can hook you because I’m the purest form of gambling
there is. Pretty cheap to get into and the rewards are HUGE if you do it
right. People see that curve, that barb, and they think, all fish’ll go
for this. How hard can it be? And then they bait up and spend DAYS out
trying to pull up fish and gaff ‘em and cut ‘em…and then they find that
making a living like that ISN’T as easy as they thought. But, by then,
we’re like the purest drug. There’s that rush of adrenalin when a
fighter’s on the line and you and your human are working so hard to pull
it into the boat. Yeah … that’s a keeper!
Is there a special rod in your life? Or are you currently unattached?
I’ve sworn off rods, personally. I’m a gangion kind of guy.
What else have you written and how many fish have you caught?
I’m trying my hook at poetry. I figure, there are those “Fisher Poets” who
meet in Astoria, Oregon every year, and I think they should cut a hook a
break, you know? I mean, who would know more about poetry and fish than a
hook who’s been there and done that? Of course, I don’t have the t-shirt….
And how many fish? Honestly, I’ve lost count, but it’s hundreds. It’s what
happens when they keep throwing you back in the water. It’s why I hooked
the greenhorn. I figured my luck was running out, so I’d better stay
topside and get some of my experiences written down before it’s too late!
What hobbies do you have? Do you shark fish on the side or double as a
Hobbies? Well …. Sometimes the deck boss cleans his fingernails with me.
*shudders* But I wouldn’t call that a hobby.
Do you have any advice for young fish hooks out there who might want to
try their hand at writing?
Greenhorns are the surest supply of blood. They’re awkward and rushed
because they want to impress the deck boss, but, they never learn that
when they do that, they screw up. I got more blood — er — ink — from
the last greenhorn who crewed with us because he couldn’t bait up to save
his life. If you have friends or family on the boat, tell them your plans
to write so they can help out in the blood collection. It saves time and
you can write more.