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Friday, 22 February 2008
Getting to Know Randi Clarken
Topic: Author Interview
Randi Clarken the person:

1.  What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Caring, affectionate and funny

2.   How do you think others would describe you?

A good listener.  Also...



Outgoing and friendly (read: talkative)

And... some folks think I'm a pretty good cook and baker.  Also, my writing group (who totally rock, btw!) think I'm a pretty good rhyming poet, too. 

Let's see - what else?  Oh yeah...

Procrastinator and full of disorganized chaos. (Actually, those characteristics are mostly thought by my husband.  Sadly, it's true.  Fortunately, people outside of my house seem surprised when I say that!)

Dependable and cheerful.

And last...

My kids think I'm cool, but I am quite sure they will outgrow it. And probably fairly soon, too.   (Heavy sigh.)

3.      Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

My family first and foremost, followed by my friends.  I'm a very, very, very lucky lady! 

About the other stuff:  I love to cook and bake, read, sing in the shower and celebrate any holiday that is fun.  I love to do portrait photographs of children, see Broadway musicals and collect pins from places I've visited.   I'm an inveterate doodler.  I'm also a chocoholic of the first degree.  I love teddy bears.  I would be passionate about music if I had any musical talent.  I'm a Sudoku maniac.  I love to wrap presents with beautiful, elegant bows.  Talking...Ummmm...although the list goes on, I'll shut up for now...

4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

Yep!  Corky the Crazed Cairn Terrier.  She is sweet, funny, incredibly smart and she thinks she is the boss in our house.  (And I'm slightly ashamed to admit she's right.)

5.  What is your most precious memory?

That would have to be one of three things (or all three, if I can squeeze in three most precious memories): 1.) the day my husband and I got married.  It was beautiful.  The funny thing about that day, however, is that just before I was to walk down the aisle, my mother told me how beautiful I looked, which made me cry - so I told my sister to tell me a dirty joke, and that was enough to get me to regain my composure (sort of) and walk down that aisle. 

2.)  How my husband proposed: He flew me to Washington D.C. on the Friday night before Christmas.  Nothing happened that night.  The next day, we went to the Smithsonian where we spent most of the day at the Air and Space Museum (something which he really wanted to do.)  Finally, he asked me where I wanted to do - and I practically shouted, "The GEMS!  I want to see the Hope DIAMOND!  [Hint!  Hint!}  After we did this, we went back to our hotel to change for dinner.  Since it was unseasonably warm that December, and we still had some time before our reservations, we headed over to the mall in front of the White House.  All around the mall were 50+ Christmas trees (one for each state and the rest for US territories.) There was a band shell, too with carolers - and at one end of the mall was the National Christmas Tree. In front of the National Christmas Tree, he popped the question!

2.)  those wonderful moments on the first day of Spring when my twins babies were born.  My son and daughter were tiny little preemies, but they were gorgeous.  It was magical!

6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?

Kind of a long story...

When I was 17, I visited a friend who had moved to Tennessee with her family.  One day while I was visiting there, a bunch of us took a boat to a small island in the middle of a nearby lake.  On the island, there was a small cliff (maybe 30 feet up or so? - I don't know.  It seemed HIGH!)   There was a tree branch at the top of the cliff which over hung the water and the branch had a Tarzan rope tied to it, which had several old bandanas tied to it for the ‘swinger' to get a better grip. 

I was (and still am!) very afraid of heights, but I finally decided to climb up the rocks to the top of the cliff, like everyone else was doing. 

Once I got up there, there was that proverbial GULP!  You know the GULP! I mean: that not-so-distant relative to the AAAAARRRRRGGGH!

I saw there was no way I could climb back down all those steep nasty rocks, so I realized I could either stay there for the rest of my life (not an appealing proposition, to be honest) - or - I would have to use the Tarzan swing to get back down.

So...I grabbed the rope and swung out over the water - and let go. 


After I came up from the water, I thought, Hey, this isn't so bad.  In fact, it's kind of fun!  I think I'll do it again. 

Bad idea.  Really bad idea.

As it happened, that day I was wearing a two piece bathing suit.  The top of it hooked and tied in the front.  Now, I'm not quite sure how it happened, but when I attempted the Tarzan swing for the second time, one of the old bandanas, which was quite faded and frayed, got caught in the front hook of my bathing suit top.  Unfortunately, at the exact moment the bandana decided to entangle  itself with my bathing suit top, I chose to let go of the rope, and the result was that the bandana and my bathing suit top were yanked up to my neck, leaving me suspended there, ‘with my goodies hanging out," as my friend's older brother told everyone.  And I do mean everyone.

I did manage eventually to get myself free, but not before a boatload of kids came by and saw the whole thing.  And cheered.

Yep - my face was really red!  Without a doubt, that was my most embarrassing moment.

And I cannot believe I just shared that.

7.  If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Probably a portrait photographer and graphic artist. 

8.  In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

You're kidding, right?  Hahahahahahaha! about an epitaph instead?

Here lies RJ Clarken

She penned a fun poetry collection.

Let's hope the senior editor in the sky

won't send her a letter of rejection.

Randi Clarken the writer:

9.  Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

When I got my first ‘real' rejection letter. 

Okay...truthfully, I think I always thought of myself as a writer, but it wasn't until much later in my life that I really made a commitment to it, joining a critique group, attending conferences and lectures and classes and trying to write at least something every day.  This was probably around the time my kidlets were born.

Not that long afterwards, I actually got paid by a literary journal for a short fictional piece I wrote.  It wasn't a lot of money, but it was REAL.

And later on, getting some awards for my poetry didn't hurt my ego either!

10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

I'm working on the pre-press end of things for Mugging for the Camera, a collection of humorous, off-beat, quirky poetry.  It'll be out later this year.  Also, I'm working on a MG/YA fantasy series, a MG novella, several picture books, and a collection of rhyming anthropomorphics (something ‘they' apparently say one shouldn't do!)  I also may start another blog. 

And...I've also written a couple of children's pieces with my kids.  It was a lot of fun - ‘cause they're so creative!  I'd love to do more of that, too.

And...for the second year in a row, I am the editor of Goldfinch, the literary magazine for Women Who Write, which is a not-for-profit statewide collective of women writers in New Jersey.  I get to read first-hand some amazing work by some extraordinarily talented writers.

11.  What are your future goals for your writing?

To be rich and famous.  Isn't that what everyone wants?

Uh huh.   Yeah, right.

Really, I would just love to make my living from writing fiction for kids and also from writing poetry.  And I'd love for people who read my work to say that I put a smile on their faces or made them laugh.

12.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

Truthfully, there is no typical day.  Some days I can accomplish a lot and some days, I'm just trying to squeeze it in wherever I can.  No method whatsoever to the madness.  But I don't beat myself up about it either.  Just go with the flow - and carry a big mop.

13.  Why do you write?

It's something I feel compelled to do.  It always has been, and I guess it always will be.  It fills something within me.  Kind of like chocolate cake, y'know?

14.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?

For poetry, I love Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Wendy Cope and Paul Muldoon, for starters.  I love their cleverness and humor and the showmanship with their command of the English language.  Brilliant! 

For fiction, I adore JK Rowling because she proved that anything is possible - and she got kids to read.

The books that influenced me when I was a child were Harriet the Spy (of course!) plus The Funny Guy, The Ghost of Dibble Hollow and Katie John because they all were very character-driven and I'm still, to this day, drawn to character-driven books.  It's probably why I love Martha Grimes so much.  Her stories may be the murder mystery kind, but you just have to fall in love with her characters!

15.  How do you define your writing?

Oh goodness!  This is a running joke with my writing group, family - and just about anyone else who knows me.  I write like I talk.  My fiction is way too wordy, so I really need my writing critique group to beat me into submission (literally!) I started writing poetry - and particularly the kind which employs poetic form - , because the constraints forced me to be succinct and to the point, while still being able to say what I needed to say.  My poetry is usually funny or clever, although there is another side to me that's more serious, but it doesn't get to escape too often.

16.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

She made me smile.

Randi Clarken the details:

17.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

I used to write a blog, but I haven't done much on it in a while.  Once I finish the pre-press work on Mugging for the Camera, I will probably start a blog or website again.

18.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?

The grocery store. 

Just kidding.

Actually, that's something which is currently in the works. 

19.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

Well, since none of my books are published [yet] you can find some of my stuff at Sol Magazine, AsininePoetry and Trellis Magazine.  These are all literary e-zines. 

20.  For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

What can readers expect?  Umm...the unexpected?  Seriously...

Poetry?  Mostly quirky, offbeat, clever and humorous


My kids' books? That they were a good story, and the reader got something out of it.

In conclusion:

21.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

With all the negative news events happening in the world today, sometimes you just need to laugh.  From the little giggles and chuckles to full blown guffaws and snorts!  And everything in between.

It doesn't necessarily mean you think about the issues any less or that you don't have strong opinions on any number of subjects.  (I know that I do.) 

It's all important.

But you know, if folks agree with you, you're singin' to the choir, so to speak.  And if they don't agree with you, you're generally not about to convince them any more than they can convince you.  That's life.

So what do you do?


...for one thing, on the whole, it's not such a bad thing - but I think life is too short to stay angry or even sad for any real length of time, and while you can take your life's work seriously, you shouldn't always take yourself too seriously.  Sometimes, you can, but not always.

I think if everyone had a good dose of the tee-hees each day, it would go a long way in making things better.

Now I know that might sound naïve and Pollyanna-ish, but the truth is, for myself, I believe I've led something of a charmed life.  (Knock wood that the trend continues!)  I know that part of it is a bit of good luck - but I also know the rest is the way I look at things.  It's probably why most of my poetry is not angsty or emo.  I go for the laughs.

And in the end, it's how I want to go, too.

Leave ‘em laughing - and wanting more.

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008 1:05 AM EST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Tuesday, 4 March 2008 - 2:47 PM EST

Name: "Bill Kirk"
Home Page:

I enjoyed reading Randi's interview and am sending this to you in hopes you can help me.  I have been trying to reach Randi via e-mail for several weeks.  I am the group moderator for a rhyming critique group which Randi joined in January.  However, any e-mail messages I have sent her have either bouced as undelivered or there has not been a response. 

If you have a way to pass a message to Randi, please let her know I am trying to reach her.  If there is a better e-mail address for her than the one we have, please let me know.


Bill K.
Bill Kirk
Moderator, Rhyming Critters 2--Children's Rhyme Critique Group
Member, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
Member of the Guardian Angel Publishing Family
Rhymes For Our Times
Sacramento, CA

Contact via e-mail at:

Moderator, Rhyming Critters 2 

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