Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by Alys Arden, debut author of The Casquette Girls, a Southern Gothic tale of history, magic, and vampires, set in the city of New Orleans. Alys grew up in the Vieux Carré, cut her teeth on the streets of New York, and has worked all around the world since. She tends to talk a lot. Travel a lot. And obsessively document things. She still plans to run away with the circus one day.
Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.
When I broke the news to my mother that I had written a paranormal book, I was surprised that she wasn’t surprised. She told me this anecdote:
When you were two years old, I was in the kitchen and you were in the living room. I heard you making noise, so I came in to check on you. The Poltergeist movie was on TV, and you were cracking up laughing. I felt bad since you were so young, but it was making you laugh so hard. You were THRILLED by it! I couldn’t bear to turn it off because you were just so happy, smiling and laughing at all of the stuff flying around.
What is your favorite short story?
“The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forester. It blows my mind that it was written in 1909.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
A Castle in the Attic was my absolute favorite book as a child. I still have the copy my elementary school librarian gave me. It’s held together with tape. I haven’t thought about it until now, but it’s no great wonder that attics play a large role in The Casquette Girls.
Battle to the death, which weapon do you choose: A) Phaser, B) Lightsaber, or C) Wand?
Wand. I feel like you would still actually opens in a new windowneed to know how to fight to use a phaser or lightsaber. (Ya, know, ’cause I actually know how to do magical things with wands…)
Do you have a favorite word?
Sassafras. Say it out loud; you’ll know why.
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
I’m going to have to go with Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors. What’s not to love about a singing plant who eats abusive boyfriends?
What’s your favorite sandwich?
(Sometimes with bacon. Like Elvis.)
What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?
Anything to do with teleportation. I have to travel a lot for my day job. I love traveling, but if I never have to go through airport security again in my life, I would be a very happy person.
If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?
Edgar Allen Poe, so my ghost could be his muse for his next piece of work. Dreamy.
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
(1.) I was born and raised in New Orleans, but was not there during Hurricane Katrina. The Storm in the book is fictional, but an amalgamation of all of the different hurricanes I’ve witnessed growing up on the gulf coast.
(2.) Speaking of hurricanes, I wrote the end of part two by candlelight after losing power for two weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit NY/NJ.
(3.) I’m currently working on a novella about one of the earlier casquette girls. It takes place in eighteenth century Bermuda and is tentatively called The Girl at the Gallows. So stay tuned to learn more about Isaac’s family history!