I met T.B. Markinson through our mutual love of books. The author of two books, she is an American who is now living in England.
Let’s say you’re hosting a viewing party at your home. What music is playing when your guests arrive? What food and beverages will you provide for your guests and which TV shows, movies, excerpts, etc. would you show?
My partner loves Pearl Jam. If you’re at my house, more than likely, Pearl Jam is playing. The second favorite band in my house is Smashing Pumpkins. However, for a party, my partner would create a mix of music featuring new and old songs. I took a quick peek at one of the collections she made for a party we had and the mix included Jane’s Addiction, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Jon Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince, The Rolling Stones, and many more. However, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins would have more songs than all the others.
We love to grill so the food would include brats, hot dogs, burgers, and maybe steaks. Chips and homemade salsa are a must for any party. For vegetarians we’d grill a mix of veggies. And asparagus—my partner’s favorite veggie.
And I’m not sure we’d show any movies or TV shows. More than likely you’d be over for the Super Bowl, March Madness, College Bowl games, or any other big sporting event. We used to live on the Boston Marathon route and had a party every year. But instead of watching it on the telly, we’d be outside cheering the runners on. It’s an amazing event and talk about inspiring.
Now that you’re living full-time in London, what do you miss most about the United States?
The food! I know American food isn’t always the healthiest, but I crave it all the time. We’ve tried finding decent hot wings in London and for the most part we have struck out. We did find a restaurant that comes close to back home, but it’s an American restaurant. Most places in London slather their hot wings with BBQ sauce and they think it’s spicy.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten in England?
You know, nothing comes to mind. In other countries I’ve had weird food, but not here. In Botswana I tried crocodile. I don’t remember it having a lot of flavor. Maybe I’ll try haggis or blood pudding, but haven’t yet.
What’s the last great book you’ve read? What is the first line?
Around the World in Eighty Days.
“Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814.”
I just love the name Phileas Fogg.
Name three of your favorite writers. Write a one word description for each.
Ernest Hemingway: Abrupt
John Steinbeck: Descriptive
Dorothy Parker: Snarky
Name some popular writers who you don’t get.
This isn’t fair of me to say since I haven’t read it, but the author of Fifty Shades of Gray. From what I hear on the book blogs the writing needs some serious polishing and yet it’s super successful. I keep meaning to read it to find out for myself what all the fuss is about. I do have to say bravo to the author for being so successful. I’m not big on bashing any writer since I know how difficult it is to write a book. No matter what, that’s an accomplishment.
If you could live in any book, which one would it be?
Cannery Row. Not only do I love Steinbeck’s descriptions, but his characters are a hoot and I would love to be able to interact with them.
You’re a fan of old movies. How did that happen? Tell me about some of your favorites.
I was a quiet child—for the most part. And I fell in love with books and movies from an early age. I also had troubles sleeping so I would stay up late at night. We only had basic cable and not the fancy channels like HBO. I developed a habit of watching the channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM) at an early age and I fell in love with so many. My faves include: His Girl Friday, The Thin Man Series, anything with Cary Grant and/or Katharine Hepburn, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, It’s a Long Hot Summer, Hitchcock films—I really could go on and on. These films are more about the story and not about special effects. And I loved the way Hitchcock played with shadows in his flicks.
Do you play any musical instruments? Which musicians do you listen to?
I played the violin for one year when I was a kid, but unfortunately I quit. I regret that now. It would be nice to play an instrument as a way to relax. My partner loves Pearl Jam and we listen to them a lot. When I have the house to myself I torture my animals with eighties music. Yep, I’m one of those.
You’ve published two books—Marionette and A Woman Lost. How are they most similar? How do they differ? Provide a short excerpt for both that you’re proud of.
While the main characters are dealing with their own issues, both are strong-willed, independent, and flawed. I loved flawed characters in books and movies. Paige, in Marionette, has a lot more issues than Lizzie in A Woman Lost. I think the major difference is the subject matter. Marionette tackles two difficult themes: suicide and violence against gays. It has a serious tone from the start. A Woman Lost deals with some issues of being gay, but mostly from the family level, not societal.
A Woman Lost. This excerpt is between Lizzie and her brother’s fiancée, Maddie. They recently met and are getting to know each other before the wedding. It starts with Lizzie speaking.
“What do you mean? What did you think I’d be like?” I slumped down in my chair.
“Don’t get me wrong, you and Peter are very alike in some ways. You two are almost identical twins. It’s scary sometimes. You are both secretive. And you are both very driven individuals. But something else drives you … not just success.” She paused and took a sip of wine. “Challenge. Yes, you love a challenge.” Another sip of wine. “However, I haven’t figured out if you like to conquer things as well. Or people.” She patted my arm, letting her hand linger a few moments.
“Now, your turn.” I looked eagerly at her.
“I’m not sure you can handle my secret,” she said in a demure voice.
“Oh, come on! Or I’ll think you’re rodomontade.”
She set her wine glass down. “A what?”
“Rodomontade. Someone who’s a pretentious braggart.” I flashed a cunning smile.
“How long have you been holding onto to that one?” She poured more wine into her glass. “Do you use such impressive words all of the time or just around those you are trying to impress?”
I didn’t want to admit that I saved them for those who intimidated me.
“Stop stalling.” I dipped a strawberry into the chocolate fondue.
“Okay. I wouldn’t want you to think of me as a rodo-thingy.”
“You can keep saying it, but it doesn’t make it sound any cooler.” She took a sip of her wine. “This secret isn’t a big secret. I mean many people know about it … but I haven’t told your brother. And, I should add, I don’t intend to.”
I waited anxiously. What could it be?
She looked away and blurted out, “I’m bisexual.”
I choked on my water. Did I accidentally swallow an ice cube, and was it now lodged in my throat? Beating my chest with one fist, I imagined my face turning a vivid violet.
This excerpt is from Marionette. Paige is telling about her failed suicide attempt and the ramifications.
But when it comes to asking those questions about myself. Who am I? What am I? I can’t really answer them. They seem fairly obvious, right? I’m me. I’m a girl. And I’m not one who wants to be a boy, even if I’m in love with a girl. I think people who think that are idiots. Usually, though, they don’t see that. I wish idiots would recognize that they’re idiots. Life would be so much easier if others said, “Don’t bother with me, I’m an idiot.”
Let’s start again, at the beginning. I slit my wrists. My girlfriend came home. She went ape-shit. I got stitches in both arms. I felt a little like Frankenstein—the monster I mean, even if that’s not really correct. Everyone thinks the monster’s name is Frankenstein, so I’m not about to correct them and tell them it was the doctor’s name. My point is that I was patched back together and told to be normal, to be human. Victor Frankenstein, the scientist, didn’t try to teach the monster, but at least Jess is trying to teach me how to be normal. How to be human.
Your pets are an important part of your life. Tell me something cute each of your pets did recently.
We recently had houseguests and our cat, Atticus, was kicked out of the bedroom. He spends the majority of his time in there on the bed. When our guest left, Atticus made a beeline for the bed and didn’t leave for an entire day. I walked in there and saw him rolling around on his back, claiming his space.
Miles, our Boston Terrier, is one of the happiest dogs I know. And he loves to play. Yesterday while playing fetch he was so intent on chasing a ball he ran into a tree branch. Luckily he wasn’t hurt and he flashed me a smile that implied, “That was a close one.”
What are you working on?
I’m editing my third novel. I much prefer writing over editing, however, its part of the process and can’t be skipped. The next book is about a woman who had everything going for her. She graduated from Harvard, had a literary agent, and a deal to write her first book. However, everything has fallen apart and she’s working at Starbucks to make ends meet. She has a crazy but loving family and girlfriend. It’s about whether she can find her true path in life and get everything back on track.
Thank you, T.B. She has two websites, Making My Mark and 50 Year Project (“My challenge to visit 192 countries, read 1,001 books, and watch the top 100 movies”). Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @50YearProject.