Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats as well as a wide and diverse variety of invasive and noxious weeds. There they own and operate Blind Eye Books, an LGBT press specializing in genre fiction. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.
Nikki has been contributing crazy-like-a-fox cooking columns to LCRW since issue #27, on such topics as making the most of your CSA, the seductive fennel bulb, and how to seduce a vegetarian. They are delightful. I advise you to collect them all. Because even if you don’t necessarily need to know how to cook for stray children, there’s always the off chance that, if you’re really nice to her, she’ll send you brownies in the mail.
What’s your own relationship to the earth like?
NK: I have really severe hay fever so for the first 30 years of my life my relationship with the Earth was somewhat frosty. She would use her tree, weed and grass minions to flood my sinus cavities with pollen and I would retaliate by sneezing all over as much of her as I could. But then the new antihistamines were invented and I started to go for walks in the woods and notice things like mushrooms and lichen and owls. After that I gradually came to the conclusion that just because something is tiny or silent or tries to swoop you occasionally doesn’t make it a less-valid organism. Plus I forgave the trees for their indiscriminate air-based sperm-cell distribution. After all, they can’t help it. They’re grown that way. So now the Earth and I have a nodding acquaintance that I’m looking forward into developing into a genuine friendship some day.
What do you think is fiction’s (or poetry’s) role in changing minds, making people think and feel differently?
NK: I feel like fiction and poetry mainly use sly tactics such as sympathetic characters or beautiful prose to gently cajole a reader into looking at topics that might otherwise make them feel uncomfortable. That’s all fiction can really do, I think–allow a reader to see difficult subjects through a different set of eyes. All the author can do is be eloquent and speak with clarity and passion. The rest–the thinking part–is up to the reader.
Do writers have a responsibility to engage creatively with humanity’s problems or encourage their readers to do so?
NK: It’s interesting, because even though I am the editor for an activist press, I don’t think art itself, or even artists have that sort of responsibility. I do think that if the artist–in this case a writer–has convictions and desire she can use her art toward those ends to great effect but I don’t think any sort of art has an inherent activist imperative. Sometimes it exists just for its own sake. And that’s okay too.
Is humanity doomed?
NK: I hope not. Who will I cook for if it is?
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33, a theme issue about humanity’s relationship with the earth guest edited by me, is available in 30% recycled dead tree form from Small Beer Press and indie bookstores near you. The ebook version is at Weightless Books.