Ami Greko: I’ve noticed at readings that you seem to have some pretty epic tattoos—are there any that you’d be willing to share the story behind?

Tamora Pierce: Oh, not epic. I have cat tracks (my cats walk all over me), a badger paw print, and crow tracks (I love crows, and I cared for a baby before I handed him over to rehabilitators one year). I had the 1970s feminist symbol that seems to be coming back in style, the Venus symbol with a clenched fist in the circle. I have the Egyptian feather of truth, which is weighed against your heart to determine if your soul is too heavy with bad deeds to go on to the afterworld. I have a spiral, both for Winding Circle and for the journey: from birth to death, from darkness to light, and from ignorance to knowledge.

And I have Mr. Fear, who’s a big screamy face in profile with a yellow eyeball and a spiky thing around his ear to the top of his head and under his chin back and up over his head. He’s for all the loudmouths in the media who want you to be afraid of everything, so when I get tired of their yammering I just mash his face against the table and say, “Shut up.” Or he’s all of my fears, and I do the same thing. Or if somebody drives past me when I’m driving, honking at me and flipping me off, I just show that person Mr. Fear. Usually they just go away after that.

Goodreads | Tamora Pierce (Author of Alanna) September, 2013

AHHH, the writer of the Alanna series answered my question about tattoos!

Like many poems, it’s an exercise in conjuring up a spirit. — Seamus Heaney on writing poetry

RIP, Seamus Heaney.

I worked with him when I was at FSG, in one of those young-to-working experiences that I still sort of can’t believe I got away with. The company wanted to start at poetry blog, which I somehow got to name, launch, and record all of our poets reading their favorite FSG poems for. 

I emailed Seamus Heaney, not expecting him to ever get back to me. One day the phone rang, and a strange man said, “hello. This is Seamus. Seamus Heaney. I’d like to read some Ted Hughes, that old magician, if you’d allow it.”

It is a testament to how close I was to still being a teenager that I was able to pretend I was totally cool and not at all surprised to be talking to one of my favorite poets.

We recorded Heaney introducing and reading Hughes’ “The Thought Fox,” which is where the quote above comes from, and his own poem “Postscript.” You can still find them here.