About Her Frozen WildScientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess or shaman. This mummy has the same mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers he 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. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother supposedly disappeared. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.
My Favorite Books
By Kim Antieau
Since this post is going to be on the Readaholic, I thought it would be appropriate to write about some of the books I have loved over the years. Like you, Bridget, I was always a voracious reader. I loved books and stories. When I was a child I would sometimes sleep with my favorite book under my pillow, hoping that I would dream about it.
In elementary school, I read any book about horses I could find. I read all the Chincoteague books by Marguerite Henry. Plus I gobbled up Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. I read them over and over, although my favorite was the one with the aliens, The Island Stallion Races.
Then in middle school, I loved the Narnia books as well as any horse books. I was getting frustrated that hardly any of the books had girls in them, or if they did, the girls didn’t have much of a role or else they were relatively powerless. It was around this time that I created by own imaginary world where my friends and I were from another planet; on that planet girls and women had magical powers—and rode horses and unicorns—and the men and boys had no powers!
At various times when I was young, I also read Jules Verne and Alexander Dumas. Although I never finished any of their books, I loved the alienness of what they wrote about. Verne’s style was so odd and floral. The worlds Dumas wrote about were so different from my own. I was fascinated by The Count of Monte Cristo even though I never finished the book. (I have always preferred shorter novels.) I loved Dickens, too, and I did read and finished David Copperfield. It was one of my favorite books for a very long time.
In high school I started reading gothic novels. Most of them were written by women so at least women and/or girls played a major role in the books. I also read just about every end-of-the-world apocalyptic novel there was. Most of them were assigned to us in school. It’s no wonder I was a bit depressed in high school! We read 1984, Brave New World, On the Beach, and Alas, Babylon. The future did not look very bright. We were either all going to be poisoned by nuclear war or we’d become automatons unable to love or live freely. Yikes!
Fortunately a teacher of mine introduced me to the work of Daphne Du Maurier. Although Du Maurier’s heroines were not always powerful, they were well-developed characters who seemed like real women. Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel are both books I still recommend people read, especially writers. In Rebecca, we never know the name of the woman who narrates the entire novel. In My Cousin Rachel, we’re never quite sure what is happening. Du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now is one of the most frightening stories I have ever read. In fact, I’ve never re-read it because it was so scary to me.
I also read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in high school. Some people claim that if someone prefers Jane Eyre over Wuthering Heights, that person has no romance in her or his soul. Well, I did not like Wuthering Heights at all. I thought the characters were unrealistic; they acted like children—and not very well-behaved children.
I didn’t see anything romantic about the way Heathcliff treated Catherine. I thought he was a bully and a bit psychotic. Plus Catherine was so powerless through the entire story. In Jane Eyre, Jane took her power. She was the center of her story. Yes, she was in love with Rochester, but once she discovered he had deceived her, she left. I loved Jane Eyre, the person and the novel.
Oh wow, I see I’m only up to high school, I’ve gone on for pages, and I’ve just skimmed the surface! Maybe I should tell you about some writers and books I like now. Fast forward quite a few years. I still like strong women or at least women who are not caricatures, women who are multi-dimensional.
I got my Masters degree in American literature, so I read a lot of books in my college years. I grew tired of books about older men lusting after younger women. (The male professors were picking out these books for us to read.) I was thrilled when I took a science fiction course. Yes, some of the books were outdated and the male writers could be just as clueless as they were in any genre. However, a lot of women were starting to write science fiction then.
After years of reading mostly male writers in college—or women writers who could only tell the tales of powerless uninteresting women—I got to read Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda McIntyre, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Pamela Sargent and Kate Wilhelm. Wow! Fantastic imaginative settings and powerful women! I was thrilled. Pamela Sargent edited a science fiction anthology series called Women of Wonder with all women writers. I can only say that it blew my mind. The stories were eye-opening, to say the least, so rich, thought-provoking, and full of great characters.
Who do I read now? I still read lots of books, but when I’m writing fiction I read only nonfiction and poetry. Some of my favorite writers in those genres are Terry Tempest Williams, Mary Oliver, Tom Cowan, Vicki Noble, Mario Milosevic, Dale Pendell, Patricia Monaghan, and Stephen Harrod Buhner.
In fiction, I enjoy most of Barbara Kingsolver’s books. Pigs in Heaven is one of my favorites. The main character is on a road trip with her adopted daughter, and they travel through many of the landscapes my husband and I have traveled. Her books have compassion and heart and an appreciation for the land and the Earth.
Alice Hoffman is another favorite of mine. I happen to be a fan of the Latin American magical realists. Although Hoffman is not a magical realists, her novels are all filled with myth and magic and ordinary life, and it’s not necessarily unordinary for the myth and magic to be all mixed up in every day life.
Charles de Lint is another favorite. Charles’ books are mythic, filled with fairies, music, and art. His work is also compassionate and heartfelt, and he writes really good women! Although I love his current novels, some of my favorite books of his are from his early years, probably because they were some of the first novels I had read by him, and I was so thrilled and impressed to find him. I loved Svaha. How to describe it? A kind of mythic Native American science fiction apocalyptic futuristic novel. OK, and that does not do it justice. I also really loved Jack the Giant Killer, which was probably the first modern day fairy novel I’d ever read.
Another of my favorite writers is Mario Milosevic. I should mention that I happen to be married to him, but I loved his writing before we married, and why should leave him out just because we happen to live together? His poetry is amazing. Sometimes simple and beautiful, other times complex and mysterious. His prose writing is like that, too. It’s always something different with Mario. He has written one of my favorite books in the world, period: Terrastina and Mazolli, a novel told in 99 word chapters about a year in the life of a free-spirited couple, their five-year-old twin daughters, and the people in their small town in the Pacific Northwest. There is something tender and lovely about each little chapter.
I better stop now! Those are a few of my favorite books and favorite writers. As I mentioned earlier, when I’m writing, I can’t read anyone else’s fiction. I like to re-read my own books while writing. I know I’m not supposed to admit that, but I feel like the characters in my novels told me their stories and I wrote them down. So why wouldn’t I want to re-visit old friends now and again?
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 and her writing at www.kimantieau.com.