The Portland, Oregon resident is the author of Chiaroscuro (2009), a poetry chapbook and "several stories and poems currently circulating the worldwide web." Most recently, she's penned the above-mentioned Love in the Time of Dinosaurs , a novella from Eraserhead Press, that's been said to portray "a world filled with complex politics, spirituality, history, and a sense of actual existence in some parallel dimension."
As I dug into Alene's novella, I was at the ready for metaphors, allusions, and other buried treasures within the Bizarro context. After just one chapter, I was too busy getting attached to the characters, plot, and pace to analyze. That could wait for the ensuing interview"which went a little something like this:
Mickey Z.: Extinct creatures have returned to wreak havoc using modern weapons. Seemingly pious monks are trapped by long-obsolete paradigms. Limbs and other body parts haphazardly reattached and reanimated with help of magical kung fu. Forbidden love. And so much more. Can you provide a roadmap of sorts through the metaphors and meanings?
MZ: It feels to me that you're still at war - not with the world but with those f*cking up the world, those using all kinds of new weapons to create all kinds of new extinctions. Yet at the root of the story is star-crossed love, growing and thriving amidst all the sliced off limbs.
KA: Well.... I'm getting married in eight days, so there had better be some epic romance in there. I've been in the love-y mode. Maybe my next book will be less obvious on that front.
MZ: I've written: "All you need is love...and a small, well-trained army." Looks like you might agree?
KA: And some chickens and a goat. And also 2-3 solar panels and a large plot of land. And corn. Other than that - yes.
MZ: Can you walk us through the process that brought you to not only becoming a writer but a writer of Bizarro fiction?
KA: When I was seven (soon after winning a school poetry contest with a touching prose poem entitled "I Opened My Eyes"), I told my grandfather I was going to be a writer when I grew up. He told me that was fine, but that I would need to get a real job. I decided to be an English professor. For practice, I read every book on the Harvard Classics Library bookshelf and preached obnoxiously to my three younger siblings. But despite my classical literature obsessions, I've always written weird, disjointed fiction where a lot of people die and get eaten by monsters. I started talking to Cameron Pierce a year ago and he directed me to a free download of Andersen Prunty's Zerostrata . It was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to write. It made me angry that someone else had written it. I read a bunch of Bizarro really quickly after that and Love in the Time of Dinosaurs erupted out of my brain.
KA: I felt like it was a story that needed to be told relatively quickly and without any nonsense. (My goal was 20,000 words and it ended up being about 19,000.) I am a huge fan of short novels. There is beauty in brevity.
MZ: Any advice for wanna-be writers?
KA: About writing: write all the time and be published everywhere. Short stories, news articles, poems, horoscopes, it doesn't matter.