Jennifer Ward is a fellow writer and friend who can be found on Twitter under the alias RantingnRaven (@RantingnRaven). Below we discuss books, animals, the supernatural, and play a little word association.
VampireNomad: My first question is about books, obviously. I have to know what your all-time favourite book is. Though I could never answer that question so I'll give you a top three.
Jennifer Ward: I love First Nations Literature. I love Thomas King and Tomson Highway. So my favourite book is ‘Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapaskasing’. I also love Canadiana so my second favourite book is ‘The Cure for Death by Lightening’ by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. And my third is ‘Daughters are Forever’ by Lee Maracle. If I could add a fourth it would be ‘Green Grass Running Water’ by Thomas King.
VampireNomad: Oh, I haven't read any of those. Which would you recommend that somebody unfamiliar try first?
Jennifer Ward: I would say that if you want to know about aboriginal issues in Canada and the effect of religion on culture and society then definitely read Tomson Highway. Anderson-Dargatz is a good easy read with great character development. And King is always a favourite. He infuses lots of humour into the stories and I love his use of humour to show differences in people. So I guess I can't suggest just one.
VampireNomad: Keeping to the literary theme, what is your favourite story that features a raven?
Jennifer Ward: ‘Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapaskasing’ uses human shapeshifting into a raven; it’s an amazing image to use because of the dichotomy between humans and animals and also the significances of shapeshifting in First Nations culture. Also ‘Monkey Beach’ by Eden Robinson uses Raven as an omen of things (not necessarily bad) to come.
VampireNomad: Fascinating. I love the shapeshifting element. If you could choose a spirit animal (or petronus for those ‘Harry Potter’ fans amongst our readers), would it be a raven?
Jennifer Ward: Raven is my spirit guide. First Nations people believe that we have a spirit guide and it is usually an animal that you see a lot. I had a dream / vision around fifteen years ago about a raven and I've been attached to the raven ever since.
VampireNomad: So, unlike me and the tiger (which I chose because I feel strongly about their plight in the world), yours was given to you in a dream.
Jennifer Ward: I love the tiger and everything they stand for. I think whatever you are drawn to is the animal whose characteristics you are most likely to have.
VampireNomad: I like that thought - the animal drawn to has the characteristics we embody. I would like to embody fierce majesty. And you would embody dark mystery and premonition.
Jennifer Ward: You are so right! That's totally true.
VampireNomad: You and I have spoken about your psychic abilities before. And that's something I am very intrigued by as a devotee of mystery and the supernatural. Do you mind discussing your abilities?
Jennifer Ward: Not at all. When I was a child I would have the same recurring dream. It was about Wounded Knee. As I grew up I was able to put the dream into perspective. My dreams are where most of my psychic abilities manifest themselves. I often have dreams that I have linked to past lives and experiences. I also get that little voice or sixth sense that most people have but mine is slightly different as I hear the voice externally.
VampireNomad: As though it's an actual whisper?
Jennifer Ward: Yes, a whisper. I just haven't learned to take some of the stuff I hear seriously.
VampireNomad: Do you believe it's a guiding voice? Should you take it all seriously?
Jennifer Ward: I'm starting to. I probably should and especially now that it's coming true. I often get a message or download that an accident is going to happen and then it happens and I'm like ‘WTF?’. I just get worried with some of the dreams I have as they are incredibly graphic and tragic.
VampireNomad: I think perhaps you take just what you need from the whispers and dreams and that doesn't necessarily mean every part of them.
Jennifer Ward: Good point. I am learning to deal with it better the older I get. I used to see my grandpa at the foot of my bed every night for about 6 years after he died.
VampireNomad: That gives me shivers. I do believe in the supernatural and experiences that can't be handily explained by our five senses. With the supernatural in your life, and your personal familiarity with it, I have to ask a personal favourite question next... which supernatural being or monster is your favorite in literature?
Jennifer Ward: This is such a tough question for me because I was never into monster literature. But I was always taken by ghosts of any kind and I love Bram Stoker's ‘Dracula’ because he's so rank yet sophisticated. I also liked Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein’.
VampireNomad: You know how much I love vampires....
Jennifer Ward: I do indeed!
VampireNomad: We both appreciate ‘Dracula’. How can you not? It's a true classic.
Jennifer Ward: It truly is. I just love that the differences between Dracula and the ‘human’ characters are so exaggerated. What I love about First Nations ‘monsters’ is that they are usually fallen people or people that have turned bad due to some circumstance. There's an Inuit spirit named Sedna and all her fingers that were cut off by her dad have become some of the sea animals in the arctic.
VampireNomad: That sounds very similar to some of the Greek and Roman myths.
Jennifer Ward: I believe there is a connection, yes.
VampireNomad: We should have a comparison conversation one day.
Jennifer Ward: Totally! I'm up for that.
VampireNomad: How would you feel about indulging my love of word association to round out this interview?
Jennifer Ward: Ok sure... now I'm on edge. This might be the hardest question.
VampireNomad: No, no, it's meant to be fun. I won't psychoanalyze you at the end, I promise. I'll just say a word and you say the first thing it makes you think of.
Jennifer Ward: life
Jennifer Ward: love
VampireNomad: Ray Bradbury
Jennifer Ward: futuristic
Jennifer Ward: Native
Jennifer Ward: pleasure
VampireNomad: Those are awesome! Thank you for playing.
Jennifer Ward: You're welcome.
VampireNomad: Is there one last thing you absolutely need people to know about you?
Jennifer Ward: Well I'm a foodie too, that's about it.
VampireNomad: Haha! FOOD IS SO IMPORTANT. That's the take-away lesson, really.
Jennifer Ward: So important!!
VampireNomad: Thank you so much for letting me grill you! (Like a fish.)
Jennifer Ward: Thank you so much!
Corinne Simpson, aka the VampireNomad, wants you to know that Jennifer Ward, aka RantingnRaven, is a gifted writer, has exceptional style, and is an abuser of ellipses.