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Interview with Kim Antieau, author of ‘Her Frozen Wild’

Kim AntieauKim Antieau has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, both in print and online, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s SF, The Clinton Street Quarterly, The Journal of Mythic Arts, EarthFirst!, Alternet, Sage Woman, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She was the founder, editor, and publisher of Daughters of Nyx: A Magazine of Goddess Stories, Mythmaking, and Fairy Tales. Her work has twice been short-listed for the Tiptree Award, and has appeared in many Best of the Year anthologies. Critics have admired her “literary fearlessness” and her vivid language and imagination. She has had nine novels published. Her first novel, The Jigsaw Woman, is a modern classic of feminist literature. Kim lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, writer Mario Milosevic.

Her latest book is Her Frozen Wild.

Learn more about Kim and her writing at www.kimantieau.com.

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About Her Frozen Wild

Her Frozen WildScientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess or shaman. This mummy has the same mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers he has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother supposedly disappeared. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.

Thanks for this interview, Kim. Can you please tell us a bit about your book?

Years ago I read a National Geographic article about the discovery of a mummy in Siberia. They called her the “ice maiden.” She was tattooed, and she was buried with a conical hat and other accoutrements that made archaeologists believe she was a priestess or shaman. When I read the article, I got chills, and I knew then I would have to write about her. In my book, archaeologists uncover a frozen tattooed female mummy in the Altai in Siberia, too. But when they take a DNA sample and put it in the worldwide DNA database, they discover her DNA matches almost perfectly with Ursula Smith’s DNA, a Portland archaeologist who is peripherally involved in the project. Nobody can explain how this could have happened since Ursula is in Portland and has never been to Siberia, and the mummy is 2,500 years old.

Despite being terrified of flying, Ursula travels to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady.” She meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers Sergei has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. Ursula can’t imagine she is destined for anything, but she goes with Sergei and a shaman to one of the sacred timeless caves where her mother supposedly vanished thirty years earlier. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she has to unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei.

Who was your favorite character in Her Frozen Wild and why?
Ursula is the main character, and she’s definitely one of my favorites, but I also really love Opyea. She’s a Scythian warrior, and she’s so capable and so tough. I would love to know her and have her on my side. She’s very direct. When she first meets Ursula on the Siberian steppes 2,500 years ago, she tells Ursula that she’s got to learn to do things because Opyea doesn’t like to kill anyone whose name she knows. Opyea loves and lives passionately. I love that! In fact, the more I think about her the more I’d like to write a novel where she’s the star!

What was your greatest challenge writing this book?

I had to do a great deal of research for Her Frozen Wild. I generally enjoy research. I’m a librarian and a writer, so research comes naturally to me. But I had to learn a lot about a lot of topics. Archaeology is an avocation of mine, but I’m not an archaeologist. I hung out with an aracheologist for a while and interviewed her, plus I kept in touch with an archaeologist who had been to the Altai. I learned all about bear mythology, too. In fact, my husband and I spent some time with a Siberian shaman and became part of the Bear Clan. Besides that, the time-travel part of the book was tricky. I’ve written time-travel stories before, and you have to be very sure of what you’re doing.

Q: How do you balance out the writer’s life and the rest of life? Do you get up early? Stay up late? Ignore friends and family for certain periods of time?

I don’t always balance it! My husband has a routine. He’ll write certain days at certain times of the day, and he’ll go to work. For me, it depends on the time of the year. When it’s nice out, I like to spend as much time as I can outside either hiking or working in the garden. So I might work later in the day or work on days when it rains. When we’re in Arizona, Mario works before breakfast. When he’s done, I’ll make him breakfast, and then I’ll go work for a few hours. Then Mario will make our lunch and after we’ll go hike in the desert. Most days I’ll come back and write some more. I don’t work late at night. If I do that, I can’t sleep. I try not to write after six or seven. I don’t live near any of my family besides Mario—and I don’t ignore him. I do go long periods of time when I don’t have contact with my friends, and that can be difficult on friendships.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?

I have a bunch of new projects. Some are complete and some are near completion. Butch: a bent Western will be out in a few months, along with Desert Siren. I’m finishing work on Whackadoodle Times and Pricked: A Jane Deere Novel. I wrote them while on retreat in Arizona this winter. Whackadoodle Times takes place during a week in the life of Hollywood screenwriter Brooke McMurphy, a week where everything seems to fall apart. I’ve never laughed as much or cried so hard as I did while writing this book. Pricked is about Jane Deere, who has been on the run for a couple of decades. The novel starts when she stops running for a time to start a new life in Tucson, Arizona. She begins to solve some of the mysteries in her own life as she helps the new people in her life solve some of their problems.

Thank you for this interview, Kim.  Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

My website and blog are here: http://www.kimantieau.com/. My facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/kimantieau. More FAQ on Her Frozen Wild here: http://www.kimantieaubooks.com/2012/01/her-frozen-wild.html

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