I wish I could say that I found the author in the midst of doing what she likes to do most: reading and drinking tea. However, the pressures of the week before Finals Week find a way to wreak havoc on us all, and instead I find her in a secluded corner of campus, bent over her computer, typing frantically.
“I’m not actually writing anything important,” she says sheepishly, “I’m tweeting…” She self-consciously pushes her glasses up the bridge of her nose and runs a hand through her hair. “You know, in ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’when Violet puts her hair up to help her think? I’ve tried it multiple times. It doesn’t work. I’ve been attempting to write a paper for hours, so this is a welcome break.”
The author: I guess we’ll start with the basics. Where are you from?
The author: I’m from a small town on the west side of Michigan, about three hours west of Detroit and three hours north of Chicago. Using the hand-map of Michigan, it’s located about where the pinky finger meets the hand. It’s called Spring Lake, and I’ve lived there my entire life. It’s interesting never to have moved, because all your life you watch a place change around you as you grow up, and then all of a sudden you realize that you’ve changed a lot too.
The author: What about your family? Tell us a bit about them.
The author: I’m the youngest of three girls. I’m 20, and we’re all three years apart, so there’s a little math problem for you. My mother and father always put up with my shenanigans with grace and a healthy sense of humor, and they still do, God bless them. I don’t really know what else to say. We’re a unique bunch, the Richter clan. You have to meet us to fully understand. But they’ve influenced who I am a lot. In all of the good ways.
The author: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The author: I wanted to be a fox. I guess I didn’t really understand the concept of growing up and getting a job, (although I’m still not sure I fully grasp it), so when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I thought they meant I could be anything. My favorite animal was a fox, and so, naturally, that is what I wanted to be. I guess I was always meant to be an English major, though. I used to recite Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” in my crib. I would stand there saying “Ee-y-a my little owlet” like I was some sort of child prodigy, which I wasn’t. I suppose that was my first exposure to American literature.
The author: What were you like in high school? Were you at all like the college Clara?
The author: Once, in Chem II, my lab partner and I flooded a sink because we were bored and we didn’t understand the material. I used to knit in my AP English class, and once I wrote a “Declaration of Independence” from my student government. I wrote haikus during my Alegbra II class. I guess you could say I was angst-y and didn’t care about much, but I was still a good student. Much the same as now, although perhaps a little more angst-y.
The author: What makes you tic the most?
The author: *chuckles* Other than Cooney missing his deadlines? Probably when people try to talk to me in the morning. I will gladly get out of bed early, but I don’t want to have to have any human interaction for at least two hours.
The author: What is the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
The author: I would have to say it’s a tie between “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” by Ernest Hemingway and “Nine Stories,” by J.D. Salinger. I’m currently in the middle of a really good book called “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt, but I had to set it aside because of scholastic demands. In the words of Vonnegut, “So it goes.”
The author: If you could be most like an author you’ve read, who would it be?
The author: I don’t want to be like any author I’ve read. I want to be a novelty. But if you’re really looking for an answer, I guess I would want to be a hodge-podge mix of Dorothy Parker, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and William Blake … I don’t know why Blake, but I’ve always liked him.
The author: Do you have a favorite article of clothing?
The author: I like cardigans. “Sweater weather is better weather” is what I always say. I also really like socks. Especially Smartwool socks.
The author: Who is your favorite character in literature?
The author: Oy! I can’t choose! Cal from “East of Eden” is in a tie with Zooey Glass from “Franny and Zooey,” I guess. And Elizabeth Bennet. Once, a friend told me that I reminded him of Eliza Bennet, and it was perhaps the nicest compliment I’ve ever gotten from anyone. And also Ralph, from “Lord of the Flies.” See, I can’t choose. Bad question. Next!
The author: What is a quote that drives your daily life?
The author: “While I’ve never considered myself a very good person, neither can I believe that I am a spectacularly bad one.” Or, “Listen, I don’t care what you say about my race, creed or religion, Fatty, but don’t tell me I’m not sensitive to beauty. That’s my Achilles’ heel, and don’t you forget it.” I can’t decide. I’m indecisive. It’s my fatal flaw.
(The interview ends here. If you have any more pressing questions, feel free to ask them yourself.)