Kate Poitevin, author of “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”, talks nerdy with me!

Kate Poitevin, author of “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”, talks nerdy with me!

Walking into my first Spokane Authors and Self Publishers (or S.A.S.P..) meeting, I had two goals: 1) find like minded folks who might help inspire me to finish my own book, and 2) troll for an author to interview for this blog. The meeting went well enough that I plan to go back. I expected that it would, as my buddy D. Andrew McChesney, previously interviewed for this blog, had recommended it. What I didn’t expect was to find a “pot of gold”, in the form of Irish writer Kate Poitevin.

I noticed her book, among many, on a display table. The cover art suggested something I might be interested in, and the title hinted at adventure. Of course like any fantasy nerd, the moment I opened the book and found a map, I was hooked. Without extra copies on hand I was delighted to see that Kate herself was at the meeting. I made my way over and chatted her up a bit. She was kind, quirky, and cool. Thoroughly impressed, I ordered her book on-line as soon as I got home, and devoured it over the next two days.

“Saving Tir Gaeltacht” is a blend of Harry Potter-esque adventure, Irish myth, and Narnia Chronicles wisdom. In it, four siblings and one cousin are tasked with saving a kingdom and fulfilling a prophecy using skills none of them knew they possessed until accidentally stepping through a portal to another world.

Each child meets and bonds with a mythical creature who protects, guides, and teaches them how to survive in the magical land of Tir Gaeltacht. With many missteps, a few life lessons, and much humor, the children make their way across a vast land to meet a powerful enemy and fulfill their destinies.

Told from the perspective of a young bard, this story held my attention  throughout (a feat within itself) and, upon finishing the last page, I decided I had to interview the author. As luck would have it, she agreed!

Mj: So Kate, tell me a little bit about yourself. Have you always been a writer?

Kate: My first home was a float house on Coeur d’Alene Lake. My dad used to be a tug boat captain, and loved the water. His side of the family were all boatmen and my mom’s were lumberjacks. Whether it’s that history, or my Celtic roots, I do enjoy plaid flannel 😉 

On my first birthday, Dad bought The Boat Drive In. We lived in the attached apartment for almost three years until my parents bought the house my brother and I grew up in. I helped out in the kitchen of the Boat Drive In until the age of 14, when they sold it. I was in my late teens when I first met my husband to be, Jim. We both moved away to separate areas and lost track of each other for ten years. Then in the spring of 1978, we bumped into each other at a pub. We were married by February of 1979.   

 After that, I worked at Taco Time for a while. I also worked as a ceramics caster, and a binder in a print shop. Eventually Jim and I bought and ran a concession trailer called “Murphy’s Corner” for 12 years. Retired now, my husband and I both love boats and finally have a sailboat of our own to enjoy. 

My first writing experience was early in our marriage. At that time, Jim worked for a company that had a monthly news letter and I was invited to write a short article. I guess people liked it because they kept asking me to contribute after that. It wasn’t until I was invited to visit a local writers group, “The Tin Pencil” in 2008, that I got serious about writing a book though. My friend Mallory Battista founded the group that encouraged and helped me to finish the book. She also designed my cover.

Mj: That was a good group then!

Kate: Yes, and it still is.

Mj: Your bio on the back of your book lists you as a writer, artist, and clan chief. The writer part is obvious. Can you explain the artist and clan chief part to me please?

Kate: It says artist on there? **I point it out to her** Well then, I must be an artist! Actually, I used to cast, fire, and paint ceramics. Maybe that’s why Mallory said that. 

Mj: Looking around I see many fantasy castles and figurines. Did you make any of these?

Kate: Yes I did some of them, but I sold or gave most of my pieces away. I did win a prize for one. It’s not a fantasy piece though. **She walks across the room and retrieves a beautifully life like ceramic Wood duck.** I won a Peggy Award for this. It was actually surprising to me. I entered the contest only wanting a little light blue ribbon for best of category. I was shocked the morning after judging when my duck was missing from the shelf, until my boss asked me to accompany her to the winners table. I was thrilled to see a little blue ribbon. In fact, I was so engrossed with the ribbon, they had to point out the giant trophy sitting next to it!

Mj: **LOL** Apparently you can be very focused. So what is this about being a Clan Chief?

Kate: I joined the Irish Clan Cian (pronounced Kee-in) in 2000 and moved up through the offices: Tent Assistant, Convener, and Chieftan, until becoming Regional Chieftan. My region includes Eastern WA, Eastern OR, and all of Idaho.

My good friend, Chieftain Debbie Hinshaw, and I go to the Highland Games around the northwest, and help people find their Irish roots. We also get to bring new members into the clan. It can be hot and dirty, or cold and wet work, but the upside is that we get to spend weekends watching men in kilts.

Mj: Well that is very cool, but your bio also lists you as a Fantasy and Sci-Fi nerd. Is that true?

Kate: **Gives that dazzling smile** Oh yes, I am a total nerd. I became addicted to fantasy novels 35 years ago when Mom gave me my first fantasy novel, “Arrows of the Queen” by Mercedes Lackey. She didn’t “get it” but thought it was a cute story. I, however, was hooked! From that I moved on to the “Earthsea” series by Ursula K. Le Guin, and from there to anything by Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchet, J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, and Anne McCaffrey to name a few of my favorites. Oh and I’ve recently become obsessed with Dean Koontz’ “Odd Thomas” series. Never read horror, but picked it up and fell in love with Odd. Beyond that, I’ve always been a Star Trek / Star Wars nerd and I proudly admit to being a Whovian.

Mj: Ah, nice to meet yet another complete and total nerd. This immersion in nerdiness explains some of your own book, “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”. As does your Irish back ground, but can you tell me what inspired you to write it in the first place?

Kate: Well, it started out as a story for my grandchildren, Gabe, Taylor, Jordan, Zach, and Zayne. They are the stars of the story.  I let them pick what their bond mates would be, and name them. Gabe, originally wanted a flying frog for his bond mate! I just didn’t know what to do with that, so I asked him to study some on mythical creatures. Thankfully he settled on the white stag.

In fact, many of the characters in my book are fictional representations of my actual family and a number of friends. I let them all pick a Celtic name, and tried to get their personalities right. My youngest daughter, Callie, is Kyla. Michelle is the lady warrior, Maeve. Son Kris is Declan, his wife, Josie is Molly.

Mj: So how close are the characters in relation to your grandkids? Are they a lot alike?

Kate: Yes, I tried very hard to make them see themselves. I never intended for this to be published, it was always just for them. I wanted to put in little family references so they would remember what they were like when that age. Zach and Zayne, who followed the story as it was written made sure that I had none of them do or say anything that the real one wouldn’t. In fact, one of my proudest moments was when a friend of mine finished reading the original draft and told me, “It wouldn’t matter if you changed the names of their characters. I would have known who they were just by how you wrote them.” 

Mj: That’s a nice compliment! It really is a good read, but when can we expect a sequel? 

Kate: Well actually, I am working on a prequel. It is Ronnie’s story. Ronnie was the dragon Jarth’s first bond mate, the one who helped create the prophecy, and set up certain safe guards for the young man who was to come after her.

Mj: Excellent! When can we expect to see this available?

Kate: As soon as I can finish it. I’m getting closer. The problem writers have is finding time!

Well, I for one, can not wait to read it! To order Kate Poitevin’s book, “Saving Tir Gaeltacht” just click on this link for a Kindle edition or paper back version. If you would like a signed copy, and live in the Spokane area, you can purchase it directly from Kate! Just drop her an e-mail at . . . katelaptop@murphyscorner.com.

 

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Coming soon!

Coming soon!

An interview with the People’s Choice winner of the “Origins of Fear” exhibit at the Little Dog Art Gallery

There are still 3 days left to vote. If you haven’t stopped by to experience the chilling art work or to cast your ballot yet, you’d better run down there. RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Then, stay tuned guys and ghouls, to find out who caused a shiver to run up the collective spines of all those visiting the gallery this month, and learn just how twisted they really are! Muahahahahahahahaha!

The Intricate, Imaginative Illustrations of Kim Long

The Intricate, Imaginative Illustrations of Kim Long

 

Yet another incredible find at The Little Dog Art Gallery . I first saw artist Kim Long’s work at the Exquisite Woman exhibit. A colorful, acrylic portrait of a woman’s face peeking through the purple, dread-like fronds of an amaranth called “Love Lies Bleeding” hung opposite to an amazingly detailed charcoal and pastel confection called “Living With Your Heart Wide Open.” (pictured above, top left)

I was amazed by both works and my first thought after the shock and awe wore off was, “This artist has some range to her! I have to interview her.” Thankfully she agreed to meet with me and we spent an honestly fun hour or so together where I learned that she is just as warm, layered, and original as her works of art.  Read on to learn more about the intricate, imaginative illustrations of Kim Long.

Q. When did you first discover your talent / love of art?

A. Art / Drawing has always been a part of me for as long as I remember. There have been times in my life when I thought I had to set it aside and concentrate on more conventional business pursuits, but they were trying times, and it never “fit”.

Q. As a writer, I get the not fitting into the whole 9 to 5 thing. What was the worst job you ever had?

A. I was managing a small business. Something I’d done successfully before, but at this particular job, I was asked to keep track of too much. The owners would call me and expect me to spout numbers and figures at a moment’s notice. I just can’t do that. Numbers, facts and figures are not my forte’, though I am very detail oriented in my art.

Q. Have you gone to school or taken classes to learn your craft or are you self taught? 

A. I have very little formal training. I have just kept showing up at the drawing table. There have been hits and misses, but I believe I have cultivated a unique style. 

Q. From what I’ve seen, you have an amazing way of blending nature into your work. What do you call your particular style?

A. Best guess, Magic Realism? I also describe my work as intricate, imaginative illustrations.

Q. Do you have a favorite subject (animals, trees, people, concepts, etc.) from which to create?

A. I find the natural world divine. I love animals and people. 98% of my work has eyes! At one point my boyfriend walked into my studio and exclaimed, “Everything is looking at me!” It made me laugh, but I just love expressive eyes.

Q. What is your favorite medium to work within?

A. Drawing (dry media: pen, pencil, charcoal) is what I love most. Painting and gold leaf are secondary supports.

Q. Who are some of your favorite artists?

A. Illustrators are my very favorites!!! I love Alphonse Mucha and Frank Frazetta. I’ve had people look down on me for enjoying the works of illustrators, for wanting to be like them, but I enjoy what they do, and what I do.  

**For the record, this interviewer thinks their work is amazing also, and finds Kim’s work to be an incredible morphing of their individual styles into her own. So poop on any naysayers!

Q. What is your process and where do you find inspiration? Do you listen to music, take walks, visit galleries, drink enough Red Bull to spawn hallucinations? 😉

A. Close with the Red Bull, but for me it’s coffee! I have converted my living room into a studio, and the second bedroom into a “chill room”, so every morning after coffee I hit the drawing table. I have been solely supporting myself with my art for approximately two years now, and take my inspiration from life, my friends, and my love.

Q. Can you give me an example of finding inspiration?

A. Yes. The picture called “Dandelion” (shown above, bottom left) came to me while a friend and I were on vacation. We were out walking around and we saw a girl wearing what I think was a white, afro wig. It intrigued me, but the idea of it looking like a dandelion didn’t come to me until a little while later.

Q. That’s really cool :).  Now, can you tell me a bit about your love? Where did you meet? Do you have any pets?

A.  I met my boyfriend while showing my work at Arbor Crest. He and his group “The Dog House Boyz” had been hired to do the music. We’ve been together for five years now.

We do have a cat, Allycat. She’d been letting herself into a vacant home nearby, via a pet door. When some friends moved in with their dogs it became obvious she needed a new home.  Every time I visited, she would sit by my shoes and stare at me. We bonded instantly. She and I fit together perfectly. 

Q. Are you currently working on any new projects?

A. I usually have five things going at once. I’m most excited about the beginnings, so it helps to have pieces in different stages of development. This allows me to choose what fits my day / mood. My next show will be at The New Moon Art Gallery in October / November.

Q. Do you have any other interests or passions?

A. I enjoy the natural world and Archaeology. The history of man is most fascinating.

Q. Final question. If you could travel ANYWHERE in space or time for your art, where would you go and why?

A. I would travel to the Lascaux Cave in southwestern France, about 17,o0o years ago! I would be so interested in seeing the people making ancient art. It is estimated by the depth of the (then) floor, that they must have constructed scaffolding. Were they really all that different from us? Was there a ritual? Was it to bring good hunting? Or, were they like us, needing to impart beauty / feeling upon a surface?

I don’t know the answer to that one, but I’m sure glad that Kim Long has decided to share her talent with all of us!

If you would like to see more of Kim’s art you can visit her website at KimLongArt.com

A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

A friend and I were walking along the nearby Garland Business District enjoying the sunny day and checking out the all the shops when we discovered a new art gallery. We stepped into the Little Dog Art Gallery and chatted up the owner / curator Kay West (an absolutely lovely woman). Of course, always being on the look out for artists to interview, I told her about my blog and asked her to check it out. As it turns out, luck was with me. Or actually standing ten feet behind me.

Montana artist, Mitchell Pluto was in the Little Dog Gallery waiting to drop off one of his paintings (Oracles of a Petrified Planet – pictured below) for display in next months “Earth + Above” exhibit.

The first thing I noticed about him, beyond the large painting he was holding, was an intelligent twinkle in his eye and an open and engaging smile. He was holding his painting back side out so, curious as to what style he embraced, I approached him and asked to take a look at it. He obliged with a smile and turned the painting around. At once magical and thought provoking, it instantly won him a new fan. A fan with a blog.

Keep reading for a glimpse into this incredible artists mystical inner space.

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1.  When and how did you first discover your talent / love of art?

My grandmother was an artist and noticed my talent for drawing. She encouraged it.  Around age 14 after painting a few paintings I arrived at the conclusion I really enjoyed it. During the same time while in the library, I found a book on the surrealist’s which set off a whole journey into inner space. The surrealist’s provided a way to explore the self which seemed mystical, ancient and psychological.

2.  Did you attend art school, or are you self taught?
A little of both. When I went to college, it was to study art education to become an art teacher.  Before that I received a degree in Illustration. The curriculum required me to take several courses on painting, design, ceramics and figure drawing. I did notice my creative will always pulled me firmly towards painting…so much so, I think it made me a bad student with everything else. After school, without the approval of teachers, my work transformed. My aim became less ideal and cosmetic..and more about questioning the outcome of accidents (chance). 
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3.   What is your process? Do you paint during the day / night, with or without music, pets, or snacks? 

I can build a conventional painting but I prefer using a psychic process called automatism. This procedure is nothing more than creating an ink blot on canvas. It allows one to become aware of one’s free associations. What begins to look like a tangled mess, gets worked through. Outlined. Focused by layers. Developed, not prepared.  Automatism is supported by Freudian based psychology . Even though automatism appears supernatural it is an effective and healthy way of unearthing the subconscious. I would compare it to self hypnosis..with the painting being a wonderful side effect.  I paint during the day and night. I enjoy drinking black tea while I work, it’s refreshing.  

4.  You seem to favor flowing geographic designs and bold colors. What turned you onto this style? What do you call your style? 

It’s my duty to mention the Woodlands style founded by Norval Morrisseau, because it made a relevant impression on me.  I casually call what I do Primitive Surrealism because I use techniques used by the Surrealists and Sigmund Freud. The primitive part is intended to represent the animistic brain. Norval Morrisseau clearly illustrates this paranormal vision by using an x-ray quality in his paintings to reveal thoughts/spirits projected into persons, places and things. 

5. Much of your art also features a natural component. Is that where you find inspiration?  What else inspires you?

I enjoy the woods. I did a commission for the Sacred Yew Institute and found tree worship had an overpowering effect on my work. Even long after the project was completed. Besides having a propensity towards the mystical,  I have a lot of faith in science, especially anthropology and psychology.

6. Do you work in any other mediums? 

I’m primarily a visual artist, oil and acrylic painter.  I’m planning on producing more texture in my work in the future.

7.  When you create, do you usually have a message or meaning to impart, or do you prefer to just go with the artistic flow? 

Sometimes I have a message. Other times I find narration. . .which is more interesting to me. I like it when unexpected things happen during the process. Automatism upsets the surface of the canvas, which is the best environment for my animistic brain to project into, creating stories out of accidents.  Many times I’ll mutate subject matter if I feel like I’m being over deliberate or too controlling. I want my work to be mutually a part of myself, and an encounter with a self I’m unfamiliar with.  

8.  Who are some of your favorite artists? (From any genre: painting, sculpting, writing, music, whatever.) 

I’m a music devotee. Music is my religion. The range is too great to mention without forgetting someone. I buy music magazines and I’m regularly on the look out for something I haven’t heard before.     **Challenge accepted!** 😉

9.  What are some of your other interests / passions? (Hobbies, volunteer work, causes you support, etc.)

I like to try to make an avant-garde art film once a year, nothing major, just for fun. I support animal refuges and conservation when I can.  I don’t hunt for food every year but I enjoy it when I have time for it.  I  seek out the luxuriant in culinary experiences and like to cook. My wife and I live close to the Clark Fork River, we see a lot of bird activity which leads to taking a lot of photos of wildlife and landscape. 

10.  If you could travel ANYWHERE for your art, where would you go and why? 

Scotland/United Kingdom. I think I would enjoy being a guest there. They have tours that bring you to the stones and different ley lines. I would be open to observing what kind of magical effects those type of locations would have on my  work.

MPstoneturtle

Migrating Glyph (revised)

Like to see more of Mitchell’s work?  Click here to visit his fb page  OR  visit his personal site at mitchellpluto.com .

Grace Fairchild, an artist with an eye for eyes.

Introduced to this young artist through a mutual friend (Allison Wier, you can see her interview further down the page.), I recently had the pleasure of interviewing artist Grace Fairchild. A new resident of Post Falls, she has grown up in and around the Spokane / Couer D’Alene area, has two cats, Smokey Bear and Melly Belly. “The name Melly Belly comes from her laying on her back when we stretch her belly and she lifts one leg up, it’s hilarious.” She also has a sweetly supportive boyfriend (as evidenced in the interview below). While speaking to her on the phone, she described herself as shy, especially when it comes to talking to people, but I found her to be a vivacious, well spoken, good humored young lady. Read on to learn more about this rising star.

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Q: When did you first discover your talent / love of art?

A:    I got a set of graphite pencils and was always doodling cartoons and what not. One day on Instagram I came across art featuring pages and they were sharing such beautiful things. After sifting through so many posts I realized that one lady was drawing with colored pencils. It interested me. So one day my boyfriend got me some as a surprise. I tried one of the contests that a page was hosting. I had to draw a human eye ball but that didn’t go so well, so I took a photo of my cats eye and discovered that I wanted to try more of that furry goodness. On my second attempt at my cat I was hooked. I needed more pencils and decided that this is what I am really good at and stopped drawing cartoons.

Q: How long have you been actively creating art?

A:    I have been creating miscellaneous art here and there all my life, but really only drawing since about May of 2014.

Q: Do you have a favorite medium to work within?

A:    Colored pencils by far, they are so much fun and you can do so much with them, though they take a long time to create things.          

Q: What do you call your style of drawing?   

A:    I would call it realism.

**We both (at different times) attempted to Google descriptions of her style and though hyper-realism comes close, we both found that term to be super subjective.

Q: What is your process? Do you listen to music, keep a snack nearby, burn incense, what?

A:    No snacks. I am a messy eater. If I have something nearby it will end up all over me and my project! I don’t really listen to music when I’m drawing. I am a Netflix / Hulu tv watcher. I keep my tablet nearby and use the programs to keep track of time while creating a new portrait. I’ve been re-watching X – Files, Stargate, and Veronica Mars. I enjoy  crime shows too, but they freak me out a bit. A friend keeps telling me to watch Dr. Who, but I’m not sure if I will.

**I, being a 10 year Whovian, encouraged that whole heartedly.

Q: How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

A:    If I can work on a project without interruption 7 – 10 days. Otherwise I do about two projects a month.

Q: Do you have a favorite subject to draw, paint, etc.?

A:    Animals are definitely my favorite to draw, there is always something interesting in them. My favorite part though is the eyes. I love drawing eyes! Especially when you get a really good picture with a neat reflection it.

Q: Is there a part you don’t like drawing?

A:    I hate ears! They usually have weird hairs in or on them and, as I draw from pictures, it is really hard to get a good look at the detail.

Q: Where / how do you find inspiration?  

A:    I am a part of a few online groups which have so many people always posting and sharing beautiful things, I think that is where a lot of it comes from. Seeing what other create, sharing new products, reference photos and their own techniques drives me to want to improve. Having social media where so many amazing artists post their work helps. I think if I didn’t have that ability to find them and see their artwork I wouldn’t have discovered what does inspire me.

Q: If you could travel ANYWHERE for your art, where would you go and why?

A:    Anywhere, I haven’t really been to too many places. I think doing a meet up with some of the people I admire would be amazing, so many of them are in the UK, Australia and Texas. We (my boyfriend and I) like to take drives and get photographs of all sorts of stuff so that I can try and draw from my own reference photos too. So anywhere to do that also.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists?

A:    This is so difficult! Danielle Fisher Portraits, Jessica Lennox, Lisa Lachri, Wendy Layne Windrich, Rachael Wild, and Kelly Lahar just to name a few. All but Wendy I discovered on instagram, and I recently purchased a print from Kelly.

Q: What are some other interests of yours? Hobbies, volunteer work, causes you support, etc.

A:    Well my art was a hobby so when I am not working I will go home and draw.

Q: So you have a job other than super artist? (Yes I checked out your fb page and loved it!;)

A:    Haha yeah, I work full time for a seasonal Bark Blowing company, which is an awesome job filled with amazing people. So in the off season, like this winter, I was able to spit out some art quicker than normal.

Q: Do you have a website for your art?

A:    I do, it’s not finished and I am thinking about purchasing one instead of doing a free one but here is the link: http://graciesartcorner.weebly.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graciesartcorner/ Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/handmade/Gracies-Art-Corner and if you search graciesartcorner on Instagram you will find me there as well.

**Some of Grace’s work can currently be seen at The Artisan Gallery @ 53 Wisconsin St. Priest River, ID.