Last week, my guest on Tuesday was Bodie Parkhurst, author of the it-just-gets-better-every-chapter GOOD ON PAPER. I send her some interview questions based on her biography, and her answers were so satisfyingly complete I decided to post them separately.
Here is her biography again:
Bodie Parkhurst is a writer, artist, and designer. She lives in a Craftsman worker’s cottage named Betty in the empty half of Oregon with the House Leroy, her son Patrick, two formerly-feral Hawaiian cats, and a ghost named Jesús. She has a Master’s degree in English with a minor in Art, got through college by driving a truck and working in a dairy, and believes that no experience in life should be wasted.If nothing else, it provides plot material. She provides cover design typesetting, and print coordination services to various small presses, and self-publishers.
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1. I’m fascinated with Storybook Style architecture, which came out of the Craftsman Style. Did you choose the house because of its architecture? Why did you name it? Why Betty?
Did I choose the house because of its architecture? No. In fact, when I saw it in the real estate listings it made so little impression I didn’t even put it on the list of houses I wanted to see. I had just lost about everything in the Great Mold Incident, and had to move, and move fast. I made plans to spend one day house hunting. I took along an old friend who has built many, many houses. His job was to play devil’s advocate, since I tend to fall in love with every house I see.
When we drove up my friend said, “This one has possibilities.” The porch looked flimsy to me, but there was just something about it. I got up to the front door and, as I waited for the realtor to open it, I had the strongest feeling that I was coming home. My friend proved his worth by looking at things like the heating and air conditioning, the foundation, the wiring and plumbing, and things like that. Then he said, “Of all the houses we’ve seen, I think this one would serve you best.” It wasn’t the one I “liked” best. It wasn’t even the prettiest house. But at the time my major concern was that I have a solid, reliable, dry house. I took his advice, and I’ve never regretted it. The charm of the house has only really become evident as we’ve been able to strip away the modifications of years and find the house’s good bones again.
The house named herself. In our first year, my son put dish soap rather than dishwasher detergent into the dishwasher, and ended up flooding the kitchen. We pulled up flooring that dated back to the original burlap/oilcloth/tarred-down floor covering. Under all that mess (there were about two inches of layered flooring) was the original hardwood floor. The House Leroy stripped it down and refinished it and it was lovely. A month later a pipe broke under the house. I was bemoaning the moistness of my foundations to a friend when she told me, “You seem to have a lot of water disasters. Have you considered talking to your house, telling it that you’re fixing it up as fast as you can, and asking it to just be a bit patient?
I decided I’d give it a try. So I’m sitting in my living room, thinking warm and loving thoughts about how my house has done its job well for nearly 100 years, and how grateful I am to have it, when I think, “What’s your name?” I’m not even quite sure where it came from.
“Betty,” came the answer.
“Betty? Are you sure?” I asked. “I’ve never really liked that name.” I swear, there was this stiff, offended silence. I know when I”m beaten. “Okay, you’re Betty. That’s a nice name,” I said.
And Betty my house was, and is. True story: since that conversation there hasn’t been another water disaster.
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From Bodie Parkhurst’s wonderful blog, where she shares news about her writing, her life, her projects, her printing house (Magic Dog Press) and her family recipes:
Good on Paper
by Bodie Parkhurst
Publication date: May 2010
Buy a book today
Available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions
Published by Magic Dog Press at CreateSpace
WRITING PROMPT: Name your main character’s dwelling.