Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nosy Interview: Carissa Halston

Carissa in a rotated Galaxies, Stars, and Dust, © Ignacio de la Cueva Torregrosa (Capturandoeluniverso, A.A.E.)

Carissa and I met at a going-away gathering for Elisa (miss you, girl!), and since that time I've had the pleasure of watching Carissa completely command a big, rowdy audience as she read from her novella The Mere Weight of Words. In addition to writing books, Carissa runs a small press and a reading series, and still somehow finds time to tweet

What do you smell like?
I like to think that I smell like the things I wear/do every day. Each day, I wear two white gold bands (one on each hand). My right hand has the advantage of tiny sapphires and diamonds. I walk and I read and I write every day, so add sweat to the mix (two parts cerebral, one part physical). As a writer, I'm fond of em dashes and as an editor, I'm fond of compression (delete, delete, delete), so I also smell of punctuation and absence. According to my best friend, I smell "warm," which I find comforting because it's sentimental and pleasantly surprising because I'd never describe myself that way.

What do you like to smell? 
I like to smell books, though it's very rare that I find a great book smell. Often, they smell like spaces (obvious ones: libraries, used book stores, dusty shelves, boxes). Though occasionally, they smell like books, which is a pulpy, inky, old (or sometimes new) smell. It's the faint scent of glue and cloth. Some books have very non-book odors. Health textbooks have a distinctly skunky scent. The very first book I remember smelling was my health book in second grade. It smelled foul, but I couldn't keep my face out of it. Its stench was compelling in its strangeness.

I love smelling freshly cut lime. I also love to smell nutmeg. And hyacinths. And hot pavement after a dramatic pour. Summer days by the ocean (for the salt water), autumnal days in the city (for the leaves). The smell of winter right before it snows. The smell of spring right before the thaw. Cloves, which make me think first of ham and second of cigarettes and the boy I used to know who smoked them. Sandalwood, which my best friend wears. Cedar, which my father's shoe-
trees were made of. For nostalgic purposes, rubber cement--it reminds me of fifth grade and a friend I haven't seen in years who was my very first smart friend (i.e., he was the first person I ever met who I knew I could be smart with). Juniper. Anise. Earl grey.