What follows is my interview with acclaimed YA author Y.S. Lee, author of the dispiritingly good A Spy in the House (the cover of which I have altered, just in case there was any doubt), the first in a series of three novels set in Victorian London. The book is available in North America as of tomorrow, so rush out to your nearest reputable or disreputable bookseller and purchase it.

Y.S.: Catastrophizer, I need to warn you that all my answers today will annoy and disappoint you. This is not because I’m trying to pre-catastrophize this interview but because I’m a combination upbeat/nervie. Having said that, thank you SO MUCH for having me here – you’re awesome! (Although I’ve probably already committed all manner of inadvertent illiteracies and thus earned only your undying disdain, rather than disgust.) Okay. Let’s go.

C: What do you think about death, and how often do you think it?

Y.S.: My death date is fixed and there’s nothing I can do to change that, so there’s no point in fearing it. I guess I’m either a fatalist or spectacularly in denial. Same difference? 

C.: What has been the greatest disappointment of your life and have you enhanced or rationalized it?

Y.S.: My greatest disappointment is a pattern of quitting things that I wasn’t naturally, effortlessly, instantly excellent at – ballet, music theory, and organic chemistry. I went on to overcompensate for such early scenes of shame by making myself finish things I really didn’t need to – eg, a PhD in English literature. I am intellectually lopsided but no longer 100% a quitter, and that is rationalization enough for me.

C: Your books are richly detailed and inventive, and as such, I resent you. Do you ever fear that the ideas in your head will run dry, as though they were a river made up of ideas that ran dry?

Y.S.: No. 

C: Your protagonist, Mary Quinn, is plucky, funny, resourceful and determined. Why create such an unrealistic and unappealing role model for young people?

Y.S.: It’s essential for all people – not just young ones – to have unrealistic role models. Without these remote ideals, how can we measure the dissatisfying inadequacy of our daily lives? And where would we escape when confronted by the crushing reality? Without escapist fiction, we would be forced to perform clichés like pulling up our bootstraps and changing our ways. With fiction, we can instead feel the benefits of transformation without exerting ourselves.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
3/8/2010 05:15:57 am

Brilliant. Even my escape into fiction is one of the hideous and unholy lies the world keeps me falsely happy with?

3/8/2010 08:59:07 am

Colleen: yes, but replace "the world keeps me" with "I keep myself".

9/26/2013 10:01:26 am

Found this blog from Weebly's index, nice!


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