Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Kiini Ibura Salaam's Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, TNBBC's got a fun, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20 odd bookish scenarios.

Kiini Ibura Salaam's
Would You Rather

Would you rather start every sentence in your book with ‘And’ or end every sentence with ‘but’?
I would rather start every sentence with AND. That way I can layer and layering is where all the meaning, mystery, and complexities are born. If I end every sentence with but, you might stop trusting me as a storyteller. I’d probably stop trusting myself!

Would you rather write in an isolated cabin that was infested with spiders or in a noisy coffee shop with bad musak?
Why the spiders?!? Noisy coffee shop for sure. Because I need my distractions. Because people watching. Because coffee! Because the coffee shop suggests when I’m done writing I can go play in the city. Let’s dance!

Would you rather think in a language you could understand but write in one you couldn’t read, or think in a language you couldn’t understand but write in one you could read?
I value my sanity, so I’d rather think in a language I can understand. My thoughts are with me ALL hours of the day. In comparison, the writing is momentary. I’ll look at my readers with pleading eyes, “Please tell me the truth, does it sing? Or does it suck?” #thisbrainismine

Would you rather write the best book of your career and never publish it or publish a bunch of books that leave you feeling unsatisfied?
I would rather write the best book of my career and never publish it. Why? Because all my achievements live within me. So if I get to the point of writing the best book of my career, I will own that knowledge of plotting and characterization and structure. Then the next book—even if it’s second or third best—is going to be pretty darn good. And you best believe, I’m publishing that baby.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?
Ugh, ugh, ugh, and ugh. I’m going to have to go with the voice in the head. I am too private. The Twitterverse does not need to be in my business. I tweet sparingly as it is. Maybe the voice in my head will help me—hearing it narrated will shame me when I’m being bad and embolden me when I’m being good. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but I’d find a way for it to help me out.

Would you rather your books be bound and covered with human skin or made out of tissue paper?
Tissue paper. I just love people too much. I. Just. Can’t. With the human skin binding. If they’re made in tissue paper they’ll be really rare. Like performance art, they’ll only be able to be witnessed briefly and then never again.

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

Let’s have no one show up at the reading, please. See above where I stated my penchant for privacy. I’ll strut naked in front of a lover, but the rest of you do not need to know what I look like with no clothes on. With the reading, I’ll snap a selfie, make a recording, and promote the hell out of that bad boy. No one has to know the audience was missing.

Would you rather your book incite the world’s largest riot or be used as tinder in everyone’s fireplace?
Definitely riot. And I hope it’s a righteous riot. A riot that ultimately brings more world peace, more access to food and housing, more equality, less discrimination, more community, and a better existence for a larger percentage of the humans roaming this earth.

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?
This is a horrible question. I draft on the computer and edit by hand, so I use both in my process. But at the end of the day, I’m a modern woman, so it will have to be the pen and paper. (I’ll keep my paint and canvas though.)

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

Audio. 1. I can’t stand the pain of the tattoo. 2. I love my unblemished skin. 3. Humans are great at adjusting to stimuli. Eventually, I’ll get used to the narration. Maybe one day I’ll come to find it soothing.

Would you rather meet your favorite author and have them turn out to be a total jerkwad or hate a book written by an author you are really close to?
Let my favorite author be a jerkwad. I don’t know her/him and s/he doesn’t have to be part of my life. I’d rather love my friend’s book and be authentically proud of her/him. Viva friendship!

Would you rather your book have an awesome title with a really ugly cover or an awesome cover with a really bad title?
Two sucky options. I’m going to go with awesome cover with a bad title. I like beautiful things, plus my eyes are bad so if I see it from afar, I might not even see the bad title.

Would you rather write beautiful prose with no point or write the perfect story badly?
No question. Prose with no point. Though we know from the bestseller list, the perfect story written badly would sell way better. I just enjoy word play, so I’ll keep the beauty.

Would you rather write only embarrassingly truthful essays or write nothing at all?
In this scenario, do I love being embarrassingly truthful? I wrote one of those, and it was actually good for me and for so many women who shared my pain. So I’ll go with the first. Embarrassingly truthful can be a public service, and I’d rather be useful to the world than not.

Would you rather your book become an instant best seller that burns out quickly and is forgotten forever or be met with mediocre criticism but continue to sell well after you’re gone?
I’m going to need some dollar figures here. Hitting the bestseller list and burning out quickly, suggests you aren’t making a ton of money on that. Based on that assessment, mediocre criticism will do the trick. Especially with fans who love it. Screw the critics. Ongoing royalties that can keep my daughter company after I’m gone sounds like a good deal to me.


Kiini Ibura Salaam is a writer, painter, and traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work—which encompasses speculative fiction, erotica, creative nonfiction, and poetry--is rooted in speculative events, women's perspectives, and artistic freedom. Her book Ancient, Ancient—winner of the 2012 James Tiptree, Jr. Award--collects sensual tales of the fantastic, the dark, and the magical. Her fiction has been published in such anthologies as Dark MatterMojo: Conjure StoriesBlack Silk, and Dark Eros. Her essays have been published in Colonize ThisWhen Race Becomes RealUtne Reader, and Ms. magazine. Her Notes From the Trenches ebook series documents the challenges of the writing life. She keeps an archive of her writing and art at kiiniibura.comWhen the World Wounds is her second short story collection.

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