Luanne Castle has been a grad student, college instructor, businesswoman, wife, mom, crazy cat lady, and more. Woven throughout those other identities has been writer, but more often than not writing has had to come second to everything else.
After years of dreaming of retiring and sitting in a pretty office writing her first book, Luanne seized the day when she partially retired. Now she works from home for the family business and writes—blogs, poetry, and memoir. Her office is beautifully decorated with her creative colors of ivory, coral, and black. Instead, she sits at the kitchen laptop, alternating between writing and handling the business demands by phone and email. She finally learned that it’s better to write “some” than “none.”
Recently, Luanne completed Doll God, a poetry manuscript. She is sending it out to publishers and contests. She also sifts through her memories and the family story, arranging it into a memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family. A short piece of this memoir, called “Patterns,” has been published in River Teeth’s “Beautiful Things” column here.
On her blog Writer Site, Luanne posts a review of a memoir each week. She also writes creative nonfiction posts and discusses the writing process. Additionally, she is the family historian, in charge of many antique photographs and the caretaker of family stories. She posts these photos and stories and the fruits of her research on her blog thefamilykalamazoo.wordpress.com.
Here are the questions I chose to answer:
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
When I started thinking about this question, the first name that popped into my head was Benjamin Disraeli, a statesman and writer who fascinates me. He wrote and said many inspirational, humorous, and thought-provoking things. This is one of my favorites: “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
My thought of Disraeli was followed by images of Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sylvia Plath, and Muriel Rukeyser. I was astonished that all but two of these people were from the 19th century because I’ve always thought I was more interested in 20th century literature, history, and style. I don’t find Victorian styles very attractive, for instance. But literature flourished so incredibly in that century that I can’t help but get excited thinking about meeting these people. Then the mid-century female poets like Plath and Rukeyser . . . well, it would be thrilling to meet them, although I suspect I wouldn’t like Plath and would adore Rukeyser. It’s so much easier to think about meeting dead people than living who I very well could end up meeting—and being disappointed by.
What celebrity do you get mistaken for?
I have been mistaken for many celebrities over the years, although not often now that I am older (gee, I can’t imagine why, sans Botox and plastic surgery that I am). The name that has come up over and over is Sissy Spacek, but there are other people who seem to get angry when they hear that and say, “There is a resemblance, but NO you could not be mistaken for her.” My husband and my friend both say I remind them of Natalie Wood, although I look nothing like her, so that is a big mystery.
After death, if you were to come to life as an animal, which would you choose?
I can’t think of any animal that I would like to be because they are all threatened—either individually or en masse–by humankind. When people see my cats lying contently on my kitchen counter in their beds ;), they sometimes say, “I wish I had the life of a cat.” I cringe when I hear that because cats are killed every day in shelters across the country. When an animal becomes very plentiful, like rats, they are hunted down and killed by humans through all manner of barbarous murder and torture.
If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?
I would love to visit Myanmar before it was Myanmar. In 1967 I visited Expo 67 with my parents and fell in love with the Burmese Pavilion. Inside, the focus was on a gigantic golden Buddha, as if it were a temple. I felt peaceful inside and thought I had waited my short life to be there. After that, I was fascinated by the country. Burmese food is also my favorite food. The flavors are a mix of Indian and Thai, but not Indian and not Thai. Instead, they are a delicious blend of the best of both cultures.
If you could go back in time to change one thing what would it be?
I would like to stop Columbus and the other explorers from bringing disease and slavery to the native populations of the west. It seems such an insurmountable task, though, and I don’t know how I would accomplish it. It might be easier to use my one wish to go back before Kristallnacht and assassinate Hitler.
Thanks for taking the spotlight, Luanne! Stayed tuned next week for Dianna Keen.