Author Interview with Vonnie Crist

Posted by on Nov 8, 2011 in Author Interviews | 8 comments

Today, for your reading pleasure, I have an interview with fantasy author-illustrator, Vonnie Winslow Crist, about her book The Greener Forest.


1-What’s the first word of your book? (You can exclude articles, pronouns or prepositions).

Leave. It’s actually the first word of the introductory poem, which gives the instructions for discovering Faerie: “Leave all iron, red thread, bells,/ and four-leaved clovers secured/ in your cozy house…” To read the whole poem:

2-Tell me something about your book that I can’t find in the blurb.

I research everything! I like to discover the traditional characteristics and role of a mythic figure before changing things to suit my tale. For example, I have a zombie love story in the book, “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson.” But rather than use the more well-known undead of Caribbean lore, I wrote about a draugr – a creature of Norse legend. Likewise, when I wanted to write a dragon story, I chose to include the lore surrounding a Chinese dragon. And when I wanted to write a mermaid story, I used a Japanese ningyo rather than a Western mermaid for my protagonist. Of course, I made up a couple of the Faerie characters like the Applehead lady – but then, made sure the directions on making an applehead doll were correct. Oh, another thing not in the blurb – I love to draw! Anyone who wants a Free Greener Forest maze that I drew can download it:


3-In one word, describe your main character. (You can expand afterwards, but limit your initial response to one word.)

Kindhearted. “The Greener Forest” is a collection of 13 fantasy short stories with a handful of poems and illustrations tossed in for good measure. Therefore, there are 13 main characters. But a trait they share is a kindhearted nature – even if that kindness isn’t directed towards everyone.


4-Where does your book take place? Tell me why you picked that location.

Most of the stories take place in the everyday world of today. But since I believe our world is still full of mystery and magic, wondrous things happen on the street corner, at the zoo, on the beach… I picked mundane places, because I think when it’s least expected, that’s where the world of Faerie appears in our world.


5-Tell me about your favorite character that you’ve written.

That’s a toughie. It’s sort of like picking your favorite child. But I do feel a special fondness for Jess in “Tootsie’s Swamp Tours & Amusement Park” and Hiromi in “Shoreside.” I think these women contain a bit more of me than some of my other characters. They’re both married and are moms (or soon to be moms). Plus, they’re willing to acknowledge the Faerie creatures (like gull riders, spriggans, and sprites) inhabiting their world.


6-What’s your favorite verb?

Ensorcelled. It’s so much more interesting that enchanted or bewitched – and it’s fun to say.


7-What was the last book you read?

Well, I was reading 2 books at once: “Piskies, Spriggans, and Other Magical Beings” retold by Shirley Climo and “American Red & White – American Redwork Quilts” by Deborah Harding.


8-Who was your favorite character as a child?

All of my favorite characters were girls with spunk: Jo in “Little Women;” Laura in the “Little House on the Prairie” series; Lucy in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and every strong girl character (whether a princess or not) in the fairy tales who pulled on the iron shoes and crossed the mountains to rescue her brother or the prince or tricked the giant and saved her siblings.


9-Tell me about an event that contributed to your decision to become a writer.

Years ago, I attended a poetry workshop. I’d been writing some verse and having a bit of success with publication in local places. The participants had each submitted 3 poems for critique prior to the workshop. I remember when my turn came for comments from the workshop leader, Rodger Kamenetz, he turned to me and said, “You know, you’re writing science fiction and fantasy poetry? Very unusual.” It was like a jolt of electricity. No wonder I’d felt uncomfortable with strictly literary writing – I wanted to include myth, legend, folklore, and science in my work. In a way, his positive comments about those poems gave me permission to explore speculative writing.


10-What would you tell past you, if you could send a letter back in time?

Eat healthier, exercise, and floss. Value every minute of your education. Don’t worry about what others think of your interest in fantasy and science fiction. The path of your life will twist and turn in unexpected directions – go with the flow and enjoy the journey.


Here’s the book blurb for The Greener Forest:

“In The Greener Forest anything is possible. Silver maples sing in angel-song. Spriggans skulk about cypress knees and wreak havoc at an amusement part. The Applehead Lady’s true identity is revealed by moonlight filtering through the branches of an ancient tree. A scarecrow finds true love in an ash grove. And a wayward beech tree root sends a woman into the arms of a kindhearted giant. These stories and more lead the reader into the depths of The Greener Forest, where Faerie and the everyday world collide. There is dark and light, evil and good, and uncertain dusky gray lurking between the pages of this book. Discover that all is not what it seems at first glance, and wondrous things still happen in The Greener Forest.



And a buy link:


  1. Wow. I feel ensorcelled just from reading this interview! Sounds like a wonderful book full of kindhearted characters–my favorite kind.

  2. I love the maze! I also love it that you found positive comments for your mythic and speculative work in a literary setting.

  3. I love the title, “Tootsie’s Swamp Tours & Amusement Park.” It sounds like so much fun.

    Great interview questions! (You’ve got me wondering what kind of letter I’d write to my past self…)

  4. What a fun interview! I really like Vonnie’s twists on traditional mythic figures. Now I want to read about the kindhearted zombie and the other intriguing characters in this book!

  5. Great interview!

  6. What a fun interview. I loved these questions! I’ll be stopping back by to read more interviews 🙂

  7. Susanna, Deirdre, Kelly, Pat, Tabatha & Katie -I’m glad you all enjoyed the interview. I found the questions to be fun to answer, and they made me think a bit as a writer. I’ve already asked a few friends what their favorite verb is (and why)! 🙂

  8. I’m so thrilled you liked the questions! I tried to make them different from the usual thing and let authors have a chance to flex their creative muscles while sharing some info about their books that readers might not see otherwise.

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