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Entries in #helenoyeyemi (2)


A Question of Loyalty: What is your teapot?

Inspired by the recent Helen Oyeyemi interview that I enjoyed so much, I posed a question to the women writers who have contributed, or plan to contribute, to The Loyalty of Water:

What is your teapot? That is, what is the object that you must have with you when you write?

In no particular order, here are the answers that I received:

  • A Pilot Precise V7 Rolling Ball pen in blue ink, fine point. I like to think of it as my light saber, sonic screwdriver, and wand with a dragon heart-string at the core all rolled into one. 
  • My talismans are practical: my laptop for work, and my cellphone because I’m neurotic and God forbid I’m without it. (I hate talking on the phone, though – go figure.) Headphones are also very useful!
  • Boy, I wish I had one object. Most often, it's just keyboard and mouse, sometimes Mimi, our cat (not helpful) and sometimes a cup of coffee, which sometimes gets cold.
  • There is no single object that I must have with me in order to write. But I find music tremendously helpful to transition my brain from the daily grind of "must get done" to the world of my novel. So I put together a playlist for each new piece I'm working on. Since my novels have tended toward historical fiction, I use music of the era to set the mood. If necessary, I will keep listening to the same song over and over again while I write a particular scene -- picturing the music floating in an open window near my characters, the song getting stuck in their heads.
  • I have a lumberjack scented candle that I keep on my desk since lumberjack fable runs through my manuscript and also gives me a little taste of Colorado while I'm in the bay.  I also have two quotes on index cards taped above my desk for this project:  Faulkner's: "The past is never dead.  It's not even past" and Henry Miller's:  "The happiest people, it is said, are those which have no history."
  • I always have a photo of my Nana and a cork-board with pictures, maps and quotes that pertain to the book.
  • When I am on a residency near home - a place to which I can drive - I pack a little gnome figurine, a Mexican blanket, a selection of poetry books, and my journals.  The poetry books change as do the journals, but the little gnome figurine I've had since I was in college.  I don't remember where or when I found him.  He doesn't have a name, but I've placed him in window sills or near doorways for years.  He's always faced the outside as a ward against evil spirits.  Once and only once did he face the inside of a room; I found him that way in my office after my house had been robbed years ago.  It was as if he had been watching the intruder... (continued)
  • ...As for the Mexican blanket, I've had that since I was about 13.   My mother bought it for me near temple ruins on a family trip we took.  I don't sleep well in new places generally, so the first few nights in a place, I will often wrap myself in the blanket.  It smells like home and allows me to ease into new surroundings.  It opens up my dreams to creative focus, rather than focusing my creativity on the sounds of the night. 
  • I have a Flat Eric stuffed animal that sits on top of my computer screen. He's like a lucky charm. This is Flat Eric...




I have so many reactions to this wonderful interview Buzzfeed has up with Helen Oyeyemi. They are, in no particular order:


  1. How quickly can I obtain her book and find time to read it?
  2. What kinds of tea does she like and which teapots go with them?
  3. Is she doing a CA leg of her booktour?
  4. Can I use my sneaky lure-the-editor-with-tea moves to make friends with Helen Oyeyemi?
  5. Is this like a fairytale (it MUST be like a fairytale!) where if I use the wrong kind of tea for the pot she'll vanish forever, never to be seen by my mortal eyes again?