Reading with... K. Arsenault Rivera

photo: Charlie Fernandez

K. Arsenault Rivera has spent way too much money on Magic the Gathering cards. When not shuffling cards or rolling d20s, she lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her partner. Her debut novel, The Tiger's Daughter, was just published by Tor Books.

On your nightstand now:

I'm reading Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit the way people eat dark chocolate right now. It's at once an intricate piece of worldbuilding and a deeply human work. Wouldn't want to rush it. I'm also reading Paul Krueger's Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, which is the perfect subway-to-a-night-of-debauchery book.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce inspired me to write mountains of fan fiction. It might also have started my obsession with oddly colored eyes.

Your top five authors:

N.K. Jemisin, Junji Ito, Greg Rucka, Guy Gavriel Kay and Gabriel García Márquez.

Book you've faked reading:

I got about halfway through Lolita before I had to put it down, but I'm always talking about it like I've finished it. Beautiful language isn't enough to get me over the subject matter. Sorry, Nabokov!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Hear me out! Yes, everyone is unlikable. I hated it the first time I read it for that very reason. The thing is, they're meant to be. the novel is a love story in the sense that love ruins the lives of two entire families. If you hated Wuthering Heights the first time you read it, try it one more time. I promise it's worth it!

 Book you've bought for the cover:

If we're counting graphic novels, then Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's Batwoman: Elegy. The moment I saw it I just had to have it. Novel(la)-wise, I think I could stare at Kai Ashante Wilson's The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps forever.

Book you hid from your parents:

To this day my mother has no idea that I've ever read a book by Laurell K. Hamilton. Sorry, mom, but Guilty Pleasures was right there in the name and I was a 15-year-old vampire fangirl!

Book that changed your life:

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. When I first stumbled on it, I only knew it was like Dracula, but with ladies. Little did I know about all the queer happenings. It's a good thing I didn't know, too, because when I first picked it up, I was around 12 and pretty heavily in denial. Carmilla--much like its namesake--mystified me. I had no idea why I kept re-reading it, stopping before Countess Karnstein meets her end--only that I wanted the days she spent with Laura to last forever.

Favorite line from a book:

"Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours." --Carmilla

Five books you'll never part with:

If Not, Winter by Anne Carson; Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë; The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole; my beaten up copy of Eye of the World by Robert Jordan; my best friend's copy of House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, since it's her copy and who am I to give it away, even if I have hoarded it for four years?

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

House of Leaves. The way the novel unfurls itself before you, that sense of discomfort and curiosity--it's hypnotic. I'd love to experience that again.

Latest obsession:

It's not book related, but the video game NieR: Automata has swallowed up my life whole. Don't let the aesthetics fool you--this game is downright philosophical. When androids and machines are locked in an eternal war, both striving to be as human as possible--what does humanity mean? I've been mulling it over for weeks now, and I'll talk your ear off about it if you'll let me.

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