When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. “Wouldn’t it be wild to go down there?” says Nakota. Nicholas says, “We’re not.” But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.
Which character would you like to be in this book?
My head says Vanese, the wisest and most far-sighted. But I would probably be right beside Randy, the most passionately curious. Curiosity and wisdom, how to choose?
Do you always take a book/ereader wherever you go?
It depends where I’m going. I always carry a paper notebook, though, and a pen, though I’ve got my phone and tablet. Not just a habit, but paper sometimes provides for me a different way to think, less linear.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the good character or the bad one?
I’d leave that decision solely up to the writer.
Do you prefer to read/write standalones or series?
I always read for voice, so if I’m reading a book, I’d follow that voice for as long as it cares to tell its story, whether that’s a series or a standalone.
When I’m writing, that decision is inherent in whatever the project may be—Under the Poppy was a trilogy because that’s how much narrative space and time that story required (though I didn’t know that when I started writing it!). My YA novels are very compact. And The Cipher is a standalone, though people have definitely asked for a sequel . . .
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Depends what kind of reading it is—if it’s research, I’m at my desk. If it’s nonfiction, maybe the kitchen table, or out in the long back yard. Fiction would likely see me upstairs, with my cat (who does not read).
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Right now, as I write this, the Covid-19 plague is still very much in force, so my orbit is small. If these were ordinary days, I’d be planning a visit to stay with family and friends in New York, having coffee meetings at one (or two, or three) of my favorite spots in Detroit, scouting for a site for a new performance event, or participating in a walkathon for my favorite animal shelter.
Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
I’m a dedicated library user—interlibrary loans are my staple, and delight—but a bookstore browse is always fun.
What are you most proud of?
As a writer, I can say that the readers of mine I’ve met and interacted with are thoughtful, funny, widely read, and very intelligent folks. If those people are enjoying my books, then I’m very proud.
And as the writer of The Cipher, I’m proud that this book—my first novel—is being reprinted, with new readers ready to experience the experience of Nicholas, Nakota, and what’s waiting for them in that dusty little room.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. And read. And repeat. Reading widely makes you a better writer, writing daily—or on whatever consistent schedule works for you—makes you a better writer, too. And writing makes you a more thoughtful reader.
Thank you, Kathe Koja and Meerkat Press
About the author
Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally.
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