R. S. Markel

An Interview with Monique

We were fortunate to have Monique’s attention for a time, to steal her away from her hectic rushing about, here and there and always on the move. Her husband Poullaire and her daughters Anati and Arela are abundant with words and deeds and Monique keeps the pace, somehow finding time to pass into reflection and introspection now and then. We found Monique to posses a keen depth, her eyes always hinting that there is something profound behind her every word.

The Interview

RSM: Greetings Monique. Thank you for granting us a bit of your day to answer a few questions.
Monique: Certainly. It is not every day someone comes to me and asks, "How do you think about this?" and "What do you think about that?" I am honored someone seems to care about my thoughts and opinions enough to come and ask me, and even write them down for posterity.
RSM: As you might imagine, after the events in The Edges of Things, we were certainly curious to know a little more about you.
Monique: Ah, yes. The Edges of Things. You do not believe everything in the book was true, no?"
RSM: Well, certainly authors tend to bend...
Monique: It is.
RSM: It is... what?
Monique: All true.
RSM: The book?
Monique: Yes. At least the parts I was in. That author has the most mysterious knack for reading my...
RSM: Yes, so we have heard. I am happy you agree with his interpretation and presentation of the events.
Monique: Mostly. I would change a few things.
RSM: Really? Now you have piqued my curiosity.
Monique: You should be aware I am not so forgetful. During our journey to Chrysalis, we were only kind of lost, not entirely lost. I was certain I would find something. And maybe I did embellish my actions a bit at the Doctor’s Office, but only a little. I certainly was not being overly dramatic; what happened was very scary.
Anati: Mama! (from the waiting room)
Monique: Only a little!
RSM: I see.
Monique: I was a bit shaken at the time.
RSM: No justifications are necessary; we all understand the author’s need for dramatic embellishment. Stories should be compelling in some way, should they not?
Monique: They certainly should, although I find real life just as compelling as any story. But I never mentioned my opinion on the matter until now. This seems the appropriate time to mention it, no?
RSM: Yes, that is why we are here. We are interested in anything you wish to add to the written record.
Monique: Of course. I am sure Anati and Arela gave you enough of that.
RSM: They did. As did Poullaire. But what of your thoughts?
Monique: I have many. You know, it is not often so easy to express things with only words. A written record can convey much... many ideas, visions of places and things which may or may not exist, but in the course of the story take on a reality of their own, each reader forms a different impression. Same words, but there are as many different stories as there are readers of those stories.
RSM: Indeed, something to ponder.
Monique: Since encountering Chaffy, and since the notion of helping Hinsberth popped from nowhere into my unknowing head, I have spent more than a little time thinking of these things — not necessarily the words of the story, but the ideas the events have cemented into my mind. I am much more active in the life of The Farm now. And from now on always will be.
RSM: I admire your thoughtfulness. You seem to have learned a great deal since The Edges of Things.
Monique: My mother, she left her messages in me, in Chrysalis, and I am still trying to learn them.
RSM: We are always learning. Although many of us are perhaps not so conscious of this fact as you seem to be.
Monique: Maybe a defect no? Perhaps I think too much.
RSM: You most likely think just as much as you need.
Monique: I know. You are probably right, but I am always questioning as well.
RSM: A sign of good health?
Monique: I will take your word on that.
RSM: To continue with the interview, I have a couple of questions I would like to ask if you are willing?
Monique: Sure, why not? I will try to answer any question you might have. One never knows, perhaps I might even say something worth recording on your little pad.
RSM: Very well. Firstly, what do you think was the key moment for you in The Edges of Things? Was there a revelatory moment? A moment when you felt things would never be the same?
Monique: A good question. Not easy to answer. I think I had many such moments, perhaps not one that stands out in particular, but many moments where in the back of my mind I thought I could never go back to the "normal" life. Not that I really believe there is such a thing as a "normal" life — everyone’s life is different, fantastic stories in their own right, if we could only know of them, of the secret lives taking place in the minds and imaginations of those around us. But even though there is no normal, there are patterns we fall into, and for us these become our normal, but we know they will change. Yet we are startled when it happens. I was startled more than once during that time — during The Edges of Things, and I knew my normal had taken a turn. I decided to help someone else, and I was taken by that decision into an adventure, something which has left me in a new normal, less predictable than the last.
RSM: Very interesting. Thank you for sharing that bit of insight.
Monique: Of course. Do not mention it. I hope I was clear? My words can be muddled sometimes. I am quite aware of it.
RSM: Yes, clear enough. Sometimes we can try to choose our words too carefully, and the hidden meaning becomes buried under our attempts at clarity. Some things are better said ambiguously.
Monique: I could not agree more. My mother, being an artist, was well aware of that approach. She was of the mind that we must leave room for the ambiguous, for the understanding of the reader or viewer or listener. Let them fill in the meaning with their own ideas and experience. Treat them with respect. Too much explicit definition, in whatever media, abandons the imagination.
RSM: Interesting discussion, but I see we are running out of time.
Monique: Yes. Anati and Arela (and Poullaire) will be bounding about your room at any moment. I hope there is nothing too fragile?
RSM: Not that I can think of. Thank you for the concern.
Monique: I have learned over time to have such a concern, based on experience.
RSM: Well, as a final question, are there any thoughts or ideas regarding The Edges of Things you wish to share with our interested readers? I know you have already offered some of your thoughts, but it is a standard question I have asked of all the interviewees.
Monique: It may be a standard question but I would prefer not to offer a standardized answer. But for everything that happened, I could not sum it up in some quaint phrase or cliche, even if I would like to for brevity’s sake (some banging and crashing coming from next room). But if I may, I can offer only this from my own experience: take one step. Dive in. Plunge in. Do whatever you need to do, you never know what may come, and where it may lead.
RSM: Thank you, Monique. It has been a pleasure speaking with you.
Monique: Thank you. I hope you have everything you need.
RSM: And more.
Monique: (smiles)

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Sign up to receive R. S. Markel's newsletter "The Anati Daily" and receive updates on news and events and the forthcoming third installment to the heartwarming Lillybeth and Hinsberth trilogy.
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Follow your dreams! Author, illustrator, scientist, engineer and generally curious character R. S. Markel is available to present The Wisdom of Ducklings at your next event or engagement.
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R. S. Markel
Photo by Tracy Burke Photography

Welcome!

I am a writer and illustrator of books for young (and young at heart) readers who have a passion for exploring fantastic places, impossible events, and the magic and mysteries of our world. Please feel free to read a bit about my work and peruse the character essays and illustrations. I do hope you enjoy this small glimpse into the whimsical world of Lillybeth and Hinsberth.

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