Last week a new literary project (phenomenon?) was launched: The Adventures of Tequila Kitty. Thirteen writers were recruited to write one chapter each, only being allowed to see the chapter written before them. There were no limits on scope, style, or plot line. The only mandate was that one of the main characters of their chapter had to be a tequila swilling, alcoholic, sombrero wearing cat: Tequila Kitty, or Teqs. Chapter One: The Tequila-Mockingbird Incident can be found here

As part of this project, an interview will be posted within days of each author's chapter.

Chapter Two: Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady was written by my good friend, the bartender poet, Aimee Hamel, who recently received her Bachelor's in Creative Writing-Poetry from Emerson College in Boston.

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Aiimee and me moments before our mandatory Tequila shot.
Q & A with Aimee Hamel

Q: Tell me about what your poetry collection. When did you originally start it? How did it evolve? Was there a theme in your work you intended, or is it more just a collection of your works?

I actually started it a couple weeks before freshman year of college when I was talking to a future peer and he asked to see my work. I didn’t have anything to show so I wrote a poem in like 5 minutes to show him. An edited version of that poem did end up in my final poetry Thesis.

There was no intended theme, but as I went along it was pretty clear there was a theme forming. Each poem sort of had something to do with the trials and tribulations of being in love, and I ended up titling the collection after one of the poems: This Is Why I Choose to Be Alone.

Q: Give me a brief bio of your life:

I’ve been a New England girl all my life: grew up 40 minutes south of Boston, went to school at Emerson in Boston, and bartend in downtown Boston now. I’ve always been active in dance and sports, and in my older years am now heavily into fitness. I have always had a California state of mind and am currently saving up to move out there in a year or two.

Q: What would you say are your strengths as a writer?

I think my stuff is pretty easy to read, and I like that. I like that my poetry is complex but still understandable to most people, I think. I typically am drawn to write dramatic, depressing stuff, so once in a while when I attempt to write comedy (like this chapter in TK), and it’s actually funny to people, I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment.

Q: What are you working on now?

After taking almost a year off from writing after I was burnt out from writing my Thesis, Tequila Kitty got the ball rolling and I’m excited to start writing again. I’m going to try to publish some or all of my poetry collection, and I’m thinking about writing a short story.

Q: How has your upbringing influenced your work, if at all?

I don’t know if my upbringing really influenced it at all... I just remember as a 9 or 10 year old kid, always coming up with make-believe scenarios in the back yard with my neighbors. I also acted in middle school. I love a good story I guess.

Q: What inspires you the most (e.g. music, landscape/nature, written word, life, etc.)?

I’d say life. Weird stuff. Every time I see weird or creepy person, I want to write about him/her. A lot of times the weird stuff is the depressing stuff, so that’s why I think a lot of my writing is depressing, but I love it. This world is so strange and I just want to talk about it.

Q: Do you find there’s a difference in writing poetry or prose? Which comes easier to you? Which do you enjoy writing more?

I really do like them both. Lately i just love that you can tell a whole story in a couple of lines, with poetry.

Q: What are you reading right now?

As weird as it is, I managed to go all of high school and college not having read The Great Gatsby, so now that the movie is out I feel like I finally have to read the book. I literally don’t even know the story line, haha, so I’m interested to check it out.

Q: What authors, when you read them, make you think, “I’m giving up writing because I will never be as good as them?”

Q: I know this is the hated and borderline unanswerable question, but it has to be asked. Why do you write?

Unlike what I think a lot of people would say-- some nonsense along the lines of “I get the urge and I just HAVE to do it,”-- I don’t really feel any urge to do it. Half the time I convince myself I’m not that great of a writer. But then I eventually write something and at the end I find myself liking it and it’s always a pleasant surprise, like WAIT I actually am good at this, cool!

Q: If you weren’t writing, what else would you be doing?

Well over the past year that I wasn’t writing, I have been bartending and working out. Both of those things make me happy, and I’ll be continuing them even as I get back into writing.

Q: Name your top five favorite books and/or top five favorite authors?

Books: We Were the Mulvaneys, The Lovely Bones, Oryx and Crake, The Virgin Suicides........ Fifty Shades of Gray! I had to...

And now we get into the non-writerly, more silly-ish questions of the interview, as paraphrased from James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio:

Q: What is your favorite drink?

Alcoholic: I don’t drink sugary drinks anymore since my diet, and I miss them!!! But technically my favorite would be Tequila Sunrise.

Non-Alcoholic: Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m obsessed with milk. Room temperature and drunk straight from the jug.

Q: What is your favorite curse word?

Cock sock

Q: Favorite food.

Clam chowder. I have to moderate my intake.

Q: What is your most vivid memory?

I’ve suppressed most memories before the age of like 14.

Q: What is your favorite sound?

Cat’s purring.

Q: What is your least favorite sound?

People chewing loud crunchy things. Like that one person in class who would bring carrots or a bag of Fritos during a lecture. Close your damn mouth or go away from me.

Q: If heaven exists, what do you think god will say upon meeting you at the pearly gates? What would you want it to say?

I hope that I will get enough done before this life is over so that he says “well done.” I hope he does not say, “#fail.”


 
 
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RaeBeth is the author of YA novel Silenced, the first in the Silenced series.
The book chronicles the teenage life of Amber Brown, outwardly a normal moody teenager struggling with acclimating to a new town in West Virginia, and trying to balance school, parental relationships, making new friends, and her new boyfriend Landon. To complicate matters, Amber discovers early in the book that the person she has known her whole life as her father, the very supportive Dave, is not her biological father, and that her mother and Dave have lied to her whole life. One of Amber's few solaces becomes the time she spends alone in her bathroom cutting, the releasing of blood and the self-inflicted wounds substituted for the lack of emotional connection she is able to make with others.


The excerpt below is from early in the novel, after Amber finds out that Dave is not her real father.

I stop talking and head out of her office. I trudge to my room crying. The pain's flowing generously right through my body. It's attacking my delicate heart trat tries so hard to be strong. That's where it fails. It hurts and once again the darkness is getting the best of me. I settle myself down, and notice I'm not in my room. I'm in the bathroom. It's hard to manage the pain. I swiftfly pull down my flannel, red checkered night pants and sit on the toilet. I turn to get the blade and see I already grabbed it from its cubby hole.

I drag the blade across my upper thigh. Blood rushes out and fills my hand. The warmth of it feels good, along with the sting, which is normal. All of a sudden everything goes blurry and I get lightheaded. I hurry up and recline myself on the toilet, the best that I can. This never happened to me before.

Sarah was a pro. She cut longer than I did. She taught me that the thigh has thicker skin, therefore you have to apply more pressure. I never tried, until now. Did I do it wrong? Did I hit a vein? I hope not. I bring myself back from nearly passing out by grabbing a cold washcloth . Three minutes pass before I check to see if I can stand up.




Q: Tell me about your novel “Silenced.” When did you originally start the story? How did it evolve? What was the original kernel or acorn that became the story?

I first started Silenced as a high school writing assignment and it was considered a short story. It evolved when my younger sister, Audra read it and suggested I added onto it. She’s not much of a reader, so when she told me this, I knew my story had to be special. The original idea came from my own experiences that I added on to as I did more research and interviewed more people for it. The main character is basically based off of several different people and her experiences within the book are actual events that has happened in real life to some of those people.

Q: Give me a brief bio of your life:

I started out writing poetry for myself as a way to express my feelings. Then I found the love of writing during my English class in high school. From there I put poetry to the side and began writing books. When I’m not focused on spending time with my family, I’m writing or blogging. I have a blog where I help promote other authors and their work. I’m a mother to one beautiful six year old little girl and I have another on the way. I’m married to the man of my dreams who supports every aspect of my writing. 

Q: What would you say are your strengths as a writer?

I’m very organized. When I have something that needs done I get it done promptly. I don’t like to have it hanging around waiting to be completed. I’m the type of writer that will not hesitate to help another out. I think as a writer we (writers) should stick together. Especially self published.

Q: What are you working on now?

I’m in the process of finishing up the second part to Silenced which I’ve titled, “Silenced: The Overtaking.” I’m also working on a paranormal series which I am not going to talk much about seeing how it’s a long way from being published.

Q: What publications has your work appeared in?

At this time I have a poem I wrote that will be published into a book where several authors have come together to create it. I’ve had some of my poetry published on poetry.com.

Q: Who are your primary influences, or inspirations, as a writer?

My primary influence as a writer is life. There are so many things out there that can be wrote about and it’s hard to pick one to start with.

Q: How has your upbringing influenced your work, if at all?

As I was growing up, my mother pushed the books and reading more than television or games. We didn’t have cable, a computer, or gaming system. She felt (and still feels) that all of these, at times, tend to over take some people. There’s so much more to life then electronics. I believe if my mother didn’t do this, then I may not have found my love for books or writing. So a HUGE thanks goes out to her to helping me find one of my true loves within life.

Q: What inspires you the most (e.g. music, landscape/nature, written word, life, etc.)?


Inspiration comes from many things but as I said above... life is my primary influence. I do tend to get inspiration from other books or articles.

Q: What are you reading right now?

At this time I’m reading three different books when I have the time.

Bread of Fools , by Duncan McGonall

Burning Bridges , by Nadège Richards

The Hope Habit: How to confidently expect God's goodness in your life  by Terry Law, Jim Gilbert

Q: What authors, when you read them, make you think, “I’m giving up writing because I will never be as good as them?”

I don’t believe there was an author to actually make me think this. There’s been a few to make me think that I want to be like them with my own writing. Thus giving me more drive to write better and get my work out there. I’d rather not name them because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m taking favoritism.

Q: Why do you write?

Here’s my own quote that I life by and that answers this question. “I don’t write to impress. I write to express!!”

Q: If you weren’t writing, what else would you be doing?

I’d be preparing blog posts for interviews, tours, or reviews for other authors on my blog. I’d be helping to share the work of other authors where I can. When I’m not doing that I’m cleaning my house or reading.

Q: Name your top five favorite books and/or top five favorite authors?

Oh this one is a hard one because there are so many great books/authors out there. Therefore, I can’t answer this one.

Q: What is your non-writing claim to fame?


This I am also unsure of because I’m not famous... therefore I don’t know.

And now we get into the non-writerly questions of the interview:


Q: What is your favorite beverage?

I love water but I also enjoy my coffee.

Q: What is your favorite curse word?


I don’t curse.

Q: Favorite food.

Cereal, Cocoa Wheat’s, and Pizza... I can’t choose just one here.

Q: What is your most vivid memory?

There’s so many. But the two that I won’t ever forget is the day I got married and the birth of my daughter.

Q: What is your favorite sound?


I love hearing rain and thunder.

Q: What is your least favorite sound?

Any high pitched noises. They agitate me. 

Q: If heaven exists, what do you think God will say upon meeting you at the pearly gates? What would you want him to say?

For me... I believe heaven most certainly exists. I think God will be greeting me with open arms and say “Job well done.” I try to be the best Christian I can. As it’s known... there’s no perfect Christian but one can try to be.  I would say, “Finally... I’ve been waiting my entire life for this.”



 
 
(character count: 173; without title: 140)

Q & A With an Exasperated Writer


Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new book?

A: Yes.

Q: Mmm...do you worry the angry tone will upset your old fans?

A: I like cheese.