Author: Luisa Perkins
•10:23 AM
Back in November, Jen at A2eatwrite was interviewed, then offered to pay forward the favor to any of her readers. Since Jen and I have this hopefully long-term mutual adoration thing going on, I immediately volunteered myself, promising that I would answer her interview questions after November was over. She immediately came up with some good ones for me; here they are, along with my responses.

1. You seem like a very self-disciplined person: how do you fit your writing into your daily life?

Oh, Jen. So sorry to disappoint, but the sad fact is that I am as lazy as the day is long. A self-disciplined person wouldn't have a desk, a perennial border, and an ironing/sock-matching basket that look like mine.

As far as the writing goes, it's all about choices. I have come to terms with the fact that I can't do everything I want to do; I only have time to do the things I want to do most. My 'mosts' can vary from day to day, but writing is nearly always at the top of the list (ironing, weeding, and de-cluttering are consistent low rankers).

I write in the mornings while Daniel is playing or in the early afternoons while he is napping. In a good week, I can write three or four hours per day, five days per week. But that doesn't always happen.

I write very well in the evenings, but those are usually devoted to Patrick and the kids instead. An exception to that is Tuesday nights, when Patrick takes the older kids to the church for youth activity night. Once the two little kids are in bed at 7:00 p.m., I have three whole hours to myself to blaze away on my laptop. Tuesday nights are usually very productive for me.

2. When you have free time with your family, what do you all like to do? (Other than heat the whole neighborhood?)

We do excel at heating and cooling the whole neighborhood. But we make our own fun in lots of other ways, too. We love to put on loud music and dance around the house, lip syncing and playing air guitar all the while. We read aloud. We play games like Carcassonne and The Great Dalmuti.

All this year, we've sat down together as a family once a week and worked our way through the original Star Trek series on DVD; hopefully Santa has something else in mind for us this year, because we are almost through the lot, and this has been a lot of fun. We also like to take walks in the Greenbelt behind our house, along Foundry Creek to the Civil War Foundry archaeological dig, then on beyond to Constitution Marsh. We love going to the City together, but we don't do it nearly often enough.

Before, during, and/or after nearly all these activities, we strive to uphold the Perkins Family Motto, which is "Perkinses eat a lot." Cooking and eating are two of our favorite pastimes.

3. Who is the biggest influence on you as a writer and who is the biggest influence on you as a cook?

As a writer, I count two great authors as my biggest influences: Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine L'Engle. Alcott's writing experiences, as fictionalized in her character Jo, have been inspiring me since I first read Little Women when I was about eight. I read Jo's publishing adventures over and over and thought, "That is what I want to do."

I had the great privilege of meeting Madeleine L'Engle twice, hearing her speak at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine once, and seeing her around our mutual Manhattan neighborhood countless times before we left the City and she left this mortal realm. What a great woman. She completely belied the stereotype of the tortured artist; she found her life supremely fulfilling, and her joy in it was infectious. I love her fiction, but it is her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art I re-read most often.

As a cook, I have had two huge influences: my Grandma Ybright and Julia Child. My grandmother taught me that the time and energy put into cooking from scratch were an expression of love and gratitude. She also taught me to savor the joys of fresh, high-quality ingredients cooked and served simply. When anyone complimented her cooking, she would scoff good-naturedly, "Anyone who can read can cook."

When Patrick and I got married, my mom gave us a copy of Julia Child's The Way to Cook; it is the most-used cookbook on my shelf nearly 18 years later. Julia took what Grandma taught me (haste makes waste; keep it simple; butter and cream make everything better) and extended it to a whole new level.

4. What is the part of your religious life that you love the most?

Such a good question, Jen; I spent a lot of time pondering it. I love most having the sure knowledge that God is mindful of all His many children, that He has a great plan for my life and yours, and that all my experiences-- painful, tedious, or wonderful--work together for my good. This knowledge brings me peace in my darkest moments of doubt or despair. Just this morning, the family and I read one of my favorite passages of scripture, Hebrews chapter 11. Verses 13-16 read:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Ah, my poor kids. It's so embarrassing for them that those verses make me cry every time. Even typing them gets me more than a little choked up; they express so beautifully how I feel about my faith.

Thanks, Jen! If any of you other blogging folk would like me to come up with four interview questions for you, let me know; I'd be happy to pass on the love.
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On 11/12/07 , Kimberly said...

That scripture has me in tears, Luisa. And this post is such a beautiful insight into the loveliness that is you.

I would love to be interviewed. Talking about myself is one of my favourite things to do, after all.

On 11/12/07 , Annette Lyon said...

Such great answers. (I hereby need to get a copy of Walking on Water. And probably The Way to Cook. I'm a mess in the kitchen except for a few choice recipes.)

As for getting interviewed--ME! ME! Pick ME!

On 11/12/07 , Maddy said...

These interviews are such a great way to get to know someone.
Best wishes

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

On 11/12/07 , Karen said...

I think we have the same old neighbor in New York! Madeleine L'Engle taught one creative writing class a year at my school - where her god-children were my classmates - and she wrote our Christmas pageant - and she was just completely amazing and I just nearly worshiped her as a teenager.

On 11/12/07 , Catherine said...

Ah, I do love the interview meme. And, I've been known to tear up at those same verses...

I can't believe you met M. L'E! And, I too read Jo's (and Anne's) adventures in getting published and thought I'd like to do that. But what kind of book would I write??


On 12/12/07 , Sirdar said...

Good answers to some good questions. Love what you do for family nights. We don't have those much fact we only did it for a while...then something happened and then it was forgotten. I sometimes think were too busy...but in reality, were resting to keep being busy.

On 12/12/07 , anjmae said...

I like you. I like that you write about Grandma--she has always been one of my favourite people. My basic cooking philosophy I learned from her. One thing she taught me is that warm homemade bread from the oven with butter and honey on it can make any day feel better!

On 12/12/07 , Candace E. Salima said...

Great scripture! I don't know how I've missed that before. Oh, and pass on the love, please.

On 12/12/07 , Goofball said...

Great interview. I do wonder how you heat up or cool down the entire neighbourhood though. But I love that you play so many boardgames with your family and that you had a family tv evening! Wow that's cool, although I'd personally hate to fill it with Star Trek :p.
And you love cooking...

it must be so great to grow up in your family!

On 12/12/07 , Josi said...

Love it Luisa, you are so danged impressive. I love your answers and I love your depth. I'm going to look up Walking on Water--I basically live under a rock and have never heard of it. I hope my librarian has.

I'd love to feel the love :-)

On 12/12/07 , Jenna said...

Hey You. I love it when you get interviewed. There is so much to you and the world should know! Your answers were so thoughtful and beautiful. I learned some new things about you. I have a copy of that Walking on Water that you mentioned. It fell into my hands because someone else was going to throw it away and since I loved A Wrinkle in Time, etc. as a child, I said, "oooooh! Give it to me!" It has found a place on the shelf, but I haven't read it yet. Will have to add it to The Pile.

And I agree with the other commenter. It must be delightful to grow up in your family.

On 12/12/07 , painted maypole said...

loved learning more about you!

On 12/12/07 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Thanks so much for answering the questions, Luisa. I loved your answers, as I knew I would.

Beautiful choice of verses, too.

On 13/12/07 , Alice said...

I enjoy reading what you write so much. That's the truth of it. You're such an insightful writer. And, in case you ever doubt it, I still want to be you when I grow up. :D

On 15/12/07 , Anonymous said...

I love your answers to Jen's really great questions. You are so thoughtful in answering and very well written. I love your family motto. It is great you play board games, we don't do it often as Sirdar said. I love the scripture verse you quoted and agree with what you love about your religious life. I also enjoyed what wrote about food in your answer and the link to your family motto. As per question 1, I would agree about the organizing, the spare sock tote. I had an ironing tote for many years that never changed, so I got rid of it because I had no space to store it. Now, anything that gets ironed (which is in a drawer or hung up before hand) is done by the person who owns the item and usually just before they need it. I find I am stretched with the things I want to do (most of the time) and other things are left by the way side.